Hey folks, I’m back to the old grindstone and ready to share a recipe for one of those old standbys. I’m talking about that bread that I’m (happily) back to baking every week or so. It’s just a simple loaf of yeasty sandwich bread, but every sandwich and slice of toast is that much more satisfying when you’ve put in the time and kneading into making your own loaf. Plus it’s loads cheaper than shelling out the dough (har har) for those preservative-laden store-bought loaves. (Not that ease doesn’t sometimes win out over homemade- don’t get me wrong!)
For me, at least, there’s a ton of satisfaction that comes from kneading, watching how much it has risen, smelling it baking from the oven, and, most importantly, slicing and chowing down when the whole process is done. It’s a simple process (just takes place over a long period of time), yet oh so wonderful by the time you’re eating.
And I remember when I thought it was nearly impossible to make your own bread… Don’t ask me why, for some reason I was under the impression that bread was the most difficult item to create in the home kitchen. I was just so used to eating bread from the store. To me, bread came from the store, end of story!
Then, when the “no-knead” revolution took over the interweb I decided to try my hand. It turned out well, but I wondered what was so bad about kneading… I mean, isn’t that the fun part when you get to beat the crap out of your bread? I pictured old-school grandmas punching loaves of bread, really working up a sweat, and just generally being awesome.
So I went on the internet and searched up some basic sandwich loaf recipes. I’ve experimented over time with a bunch of randoms, and have finally settled on one that works just perfectly for me. It was originally found via King Arthur Flour, although I’ve made some changes that have become the norm for me. And, for the record, I love kneading the bread. It just might be my favorite part. Get out some aggression, get your hands all up in some bread… it’s the best part.
My plan for success equals 1) starting this loaf just after work, 2) then going for a run while the bread rises, 3) then letting it rise again in the pan as I make dinner, and then 3) finally baking it while I’m marinating on the couch. If you time it just perfectly, this does not feel like a pain to make.
My only suggestion (for you and for myself) is busting out two loaf pans and doubling the recipe so that you can freeze one loaf. I really need to buy that extra pan because, as enjoyable as the process of breadmaking is, it’d be nice to go a little bit longer between loaf-baking.
So, without further ado, here is the recipe (trust me, you want to make some… if only to enjoy the smell of fresh bread. I swear, they should make a perfume of that smell, I’d go through bottles of the stuff):
|Simple Sandwich Loaf|
- 2 tsp instant yeast in 1 tbsp warm water
- 3 cups minus 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 tbsp wheat germ
- 1 to 1 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 4 tbsp butter (or veg oil, but I almost always use butter)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 1/4 tsp salt (I always just use a big pinch)
- Stir yeast into its little bit of warm water and let sit for five or so minutes until it all smells nicely yeasty.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, although I suggest reserving the last 2/3 cup of water to see if you really need it. You want everything to come together to make a soft, smooth dough.
- Knead for around 8 minutes (don’t skip or shorten this! This is what breaks up the glutens and makes the bread chewy and bread-y).
- Put dough in a large bowl, cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours in a warm place. I have a gas oven which always stays at a perfectly warm temperature. Above a warm appliance (think fridge) would work too. The dough should become very puffy and retain a nice finger-poke.
- Remove bread from bowl, flatten, and then roll into a log. Place in a greased loaf pan and let it rise for about another hour. You want it to rise nicely into a hardy loaf shape.
- Preheat oven to 350F and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. You’ll know its done when the smell fills the house and you hear a hollow sound when you tap on the top.
- Let cool before bagging or putting in the fridge. I suggest trying a slice when it’s warm!
Prep time is mostly waiting for the dough to rise, so it really isn’t thaaat much work.
Wooo! So there you go, a great sandwich bread recipe. I promise, this one is a keeper. It’s like the reliable, sweet, and versatile boyfriend of breads. Okay, yeah that was kind of a stretch of a metaphor, but maybe you’ll understand my true affection for this bread if I make questionable metaphors about it? Oh, and I don’t know if you noticed, but I add wheat germ and flax seed to give it a little healthy hardiness. This is especially helpful if you only have white flour on hand. Again, this is why the bread is so flexible. It’s the perfect basic recipe that can be dressed up any way you want. Add nuts, herbs, cheese, fruit, or any other crazy add-ins you can think of. It’s like froyo- okay wait, I’ll stop myself, these metaphors are a little too much.
So stop listening to my nonsense and bake some bread