Plain White Sandwich Loaf
Bread. Everyone loves it. A grocery store staple. But what if you could whip up a loaf from scratch? That’s right. You. Flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oil, and water. Mix it up, let it rise, bake it, slice it, then slather it with butter. MMMmmm! OOooo and some honey. Local honey.
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Bread baking is so simple but it takes some trial and error to get your technique down. You have to get a feel for the dough and find out what works and what doesn’t. I went through 4 ugly, worthless, flat, dense, hard loaves before I got to the one you see in the pretty photo above.
Some of the problems you’ll run into
Making the water too hot, killing the yeast. Yeast need water to be the temperature of babies’ bath water, which is between 105°F and 110°F. Yeast are killed when the water reaches temperatures higher than 120°F. If the water is too hot for a baby, it’s too hot for the yeast. Kill the yeast and your bread won’t rise.
Adding too much flour. I did this. I would feel the dough and think it was too sticky. The mistake new bread bakers make is that sticky is bad and must be remedied by more flour. Sticky is fine and will mostly fix itself with the first rise. But really adding too much flour results in a bread that is dense, heavy, and not done in the center.
Letting the dough rise too long for the second rise. It’s so exciting to see your bread dough rise for the first time. It was like a science experiment the first time I experienced it. Part of me wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off. Then I came around the corner and WOW! And that is what you want. What you don’t want is for the bread to over-rise, especially when you need to get the bread on the table for a meal at a certain time. If it over-rises too much, it will eventually burst and flatten. You could punch it back down and let it rise again, but that takes time. If you’re on a schedule, it could delay your bread by 30 minutes.
Not kneading the dough long enough. The easiest and fastest way to knead bread dough is with a stand mixer like a KitchenAid Mixer. It will knead your dough in 4 minutes with the dough hook. But if you don’t have one of those, you can do it the old fashioned way, with your own two hands, but you have to knead it for ten minutes. Like ten actual minutes. You can skip arm day at the gym. Without a mixer, you’re less likely to make bread on a regular basis, but it can be done!
1 T dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil or butter
4-5 cups flour
+one egg and some water for egg wash later
Step by Step
Start with the yeast.
Add the warm water and sugar.
Let rest for 5 minutes.
There should be a foamy thing going on.
Add the salt and the oil.
Add one cup of flour at a time while stirring.
Pay attention to the consistency; not too much flour.
Hold off on the last cup of flour for a sec.
Is it super sticky?
If so, sprinkle a little of the flour on it.
Use your hands to form the dough into a ball.
If you’re using a mixer, switch to the dough hook.
If you’re using your hands, knead for 10 minutes.
Be very mindful of the amount of flour you add at this point.
Too much flour= dense, heavy, doughy, not-done-in-the-middle loaf.
Form into a ball and set into a greased bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap or a moistened tea towel.
Let rise 1 hour or until doubled.
Come back in an hour and marvel at how much your dough baby has grown.
Punch it down and knead just a little bit.
Oooo feel how the dough is not sticky and feels soft and plush.
Form into a log and place in the bread loaf pan.
Let rise again 30 minutes.
Bake 350 for 25 minutes
Remove from oven.
Brush with egg wash.
Bake 5 more minutes.
Remove from oven and take loaf out of pan.
Allow to cool 10 minutes.
Resist the urge to cut a slice and slather it with butter.
Now you may slice.
Let cool completely before placing it in a covered container or bag.
Great for grilled sandwiches and grilled toast.
Use a good bread knife to slice.
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