Wednesday, November 18, 2009

American Sandwich Bread

I've been trying my hand at bread making for the past year and a half.  Most of the recipes come out okay; that is, as long as they are toasted they are edible.  There has yet to be a bread that I will eat out of hand, as a sandwich, in other words untoasted.

That is, until yesterday.  This is the.most.amazing.bread you will ever make.  So yummy I scarfed down a piece or two while I was cutting it for future use.  My husband even texted me on his way to work: "this is the best bread."  In my book, that designates a winner.  Simple ingredients, quick assembly, and out of this world taste equal a bread I'm happy to make weekly or even, daily:)  For great pics of the finished product, head here!

American Sandwich Bread

(The New Best Recipe, pg. 725)

Time: About 2 hours (lots of inactive time)

Yield: One 9-inch loaf


3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm whole milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (also called rapid rise)


Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Once the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain the heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix the milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid.

When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from the hook, if necessary, about ten minutes. (After five minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to 1/4 cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

Gently press the dough into an 8-inch square that measures 1 inch thick. Starting with the side farthest away from you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil 2 cups of water and pour into a baking pan, and place it on the bottom rack. If possible, put the loaf on a rack above the baking pan of water (my oven is much too small to have a loaf of bread on anything but the bottom rack) otherwise put the two pans side by side. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim into the center of the loaf reads 195 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.