Sandwich Bread

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AMAZING, very simple bread. Perhaps it’s because I let it rise FOREVER, and it thanked me by being delicious. Good crust, soft texture, YUM. This is from How to Cook Everything, which is a great learning book — in the bread chapter, the author talks about the basics of white and wheat flour; of bread-making equipment; of bread storage; of making, rising, shaping, and baking the dough; etc. Example: I learned that if you want to store bread on the counter, you should wrap it in wax paper, because plastic makes the crust soggy. TONS of good tips in every chapter — the kind of book that allows you to become expert on the foods you enjoy and the best ways to prepare them.

Read ’em and weep for joy — only SIX ingredients! Time: at least three hours (maybe more), but largely unattended hours letting the bread rise and rest.

3.5 cups flour (can be all white, all wheat, or half and half)
2t salt
1.5t instant yeast
1T sugar or honey
2T butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups milk, room temperature

1) Place half of the flour in a mixing bowl (for mixer). (If using a food processor, you can use ALL the flour.) Add salt and yeast, mix for a few seconds.

2) Add the sweetener, butter, and most of the milk as the mixer still works. Begin adding the rest of flour, a little at a time (about 1/4 of a cup), until the dough comes off the sides of the mixer. The dough should still be a tiny bit sticky — it may stick to your hands, so perhaps spray them with cooking spray. Be careful to not add too much flour — if you do, you can remedy it by adding a bit more milk.

3) Grease a large bowl with butter, oil, or cooking spray. Take the dough out of the mixer with your greased hands, put it in the bowl, and shape into a rough ball. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for AT LEAST two hours, until nearly doubled in size. When I made it, I let it rise for four hours. (You can also make this at nighttime and let it rise overnight.) Note: you do not need to have it rise in a warm place. Just sitting on the countertop is fine. If you do want to help the rising a bit, you can but the bowl in the oven with another bowl of warm water underneath it. DO NOT turn on the oven.

4) Deflate the ball and shape it into a ball once more. Let it rest, covered, for 15 minutes on a lightly-floured surface. (Your countertop works fine here, as well.) Once finished, flatten the ball into a rectangle, using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the countertop. Fold the long sides of the rectangle into the middle, and roll over the dough so that the folded sides are on the bottom (does this make sense?) — basically, shape the dough into a loaf, however the heck you want to. Place it into a greased 9X5 loaf pan and let rise, covered, one more hour, or until the dough is even with the top of the loaf pan.
5) Preheat oven to 350, brush the top of the loaf lightly with water, and bake for 45 minutes. When the loaf is finished, you should be able to tap the bottom of it and it will sound hollow (it slips easily out of the pan). Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy your amazing, homemade bread!

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5 Responses

  1. I like the pictures! They’re so cute.

  2. Oooh, the bread looks delicious! I love the first pic, the way the sunlight is drifting into your kitchen. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. How to Cook Everything… Do you recommend this book vs, say, Joy of Cooking?

  4. I’ve never read “Joy of Cooking” — do you have a copy?

  5. No, but I was thinking about requesting one of the two for Christmas.

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