Start to Finish: Approximately 4 1/2 hours
Servings: 4 to 6
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Take your sandwich game up a notch or two by piling your favorite fixings on homemade bread. Once you have the basics down, vary the recipe by experimenting with different types of flour or adding extra ingredients such as herbs, nuts or dry fruit. By combining all-purpose flour with bread flour -- a higher protein variety that gives breads extra rise -- you can bake a loaf of bread that holds its structure while remaining tender. This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour's classic sandwich bread recipe.
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 1 packet
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
Combine 1/2 cup of hot tap water with the milk to make a lukewarm solution in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and the honey to the mixture and allow it to sit for approximately five minutes, or until the yeast dissolves.
Add the remaining dry ingredients to the yeast mixture, stirring lightly to combine the mixture before pouring the melted butter into the bowl.
Stir the ingredients until a shaggy dough forms. Add additional water, in very small amounts, to remove dry spots as needed. The dough should be moist throughout, with a consistency similar to wet modeling clay.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the oven on for 10 minutes before shutting it off. It can cool slightly as you knead the dough, but the end result is a reliable, evenly warm spot to let the dough rise. Alternatively, allow the dough to rise at room temperature, although it may take a bit longer depending on the warmth of the room.
Lightly oil a work surface and your hands before turning the dough out of the bowl. Knead it by hand for approximately 8 minutes, or until the dough is stretchy and smooth. Alternatively, knead the dough in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached.
Put the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl and set it in the warm oven. Allow it to rise for 2 to 3 hours, or until it's puffy and nearly doubled in size.
Remove the risen dough from the oven, and oil your work surface and hands again. Turn the risen bread dough onto the work surface and shape the dough into a log approximately 8 inches long.
Shape the loaf by flattening the dough into a rectangle, folding the bottom third of the dough up and the top third down to overlap with the other two layers. Fold it in half again and pinch it closed.
Line an 8 1/2 inch-by-4 1/2-in loaf pan with parchment paper to prevent the bread from sticking. Put the shaped dough in the pan and cover it loosely with lightly oiled foil.
Place the loaf aside in a warm spot for approximately 1 hour while the bread performs its second rise. When it's ready, it should be approximately 1 inch higher than the edges of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake the sandwich bread for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and the interior registers 190 F when checked with an instant-read thermometer.
Bread Baking Tips
- Let the loaf cool to room temperature before you slice it, and keep it in the pan as it cools to avoid ending up with a collapsed loaf of sandwich bread.
- To give your sandwich bread a buttery crust, run a stick of butter over the top of the loaf right after you take it out of the oven, or brush it with melted butter.
- After it cools, slice the loaf and store it in plastic wrap at room temperature for several days. Alternatively, store the sliced bread in freezer bags in the freezer.
- For a softer, lighter loaf, use only all-purpose flour. For a taller, sturdier sandwich loaf, use all bread flour.
- Make a hearty sandwich bread by using equal amounts of all-purpose and whole wheat flour.
- For a Mediterranean take on classic sandwich bread, use olive oil in place of butter to make the dough, and stir a tablespoon or two of dry herbs into the dough.