American Sandwich Bread

My parents gave me their KitchenAid mixer a year ago. They aren’t really appliance people and I actually can’t remember them ever using it. You might expect that I started using it the minute I brought it home. But you would be wrong. It’s older than I am, and appliances that are old enough to purchase alcohol make me nervous. I was worried I would break it, or that I would turn it on and discover it didn’t actually work, or that…actually, just those two things. So it sat on the bottom shelf of my appliance cupboard for almost a year. Last month, I was making marshmallows, and you absolutely need a stand mixer for the marshmallows I was making, so I finally pulled it out. You’d think I would have taken it easy for the first run since I was so worried about breaking it and all. Not so much. The recipe I was using had several reviews stating that it had caused massive KitchenAid destruction. But it worked, and the marshmallows didn’t cause its twenty-one year old motor to die, so now I use it a lot. This weekend I did something I’ve been wanting to do since I got it, and made bread.

Loaf with several slices

I read recently that the original just-add-water cake mixes had to be reformulated to require extra additions (eggs, oil, etc). They were too easy and made housewives feel useless. After making dough in the mixer I understand how they felt. I put in all the ingredients, turned in on and ten minutes later I had gorgeous dough. Seriously, this dough was everything bread dough should be. I felt like I was cheating. Washing the dishes afterwards was more work than making the bread itself.

Buttered slice of bread

If John and I eating half the loaf in an afternoon is any indication, this is good bread. It’s easy bread, but it’s really tasty. This is the kind of bread that makes you look forward to making a sandwich for lunch, and it’s great toasted as well. It’s also the kind of bread that gets you excited to spend more time baking bread. After all, I barely lifted a finger and I ended up with this. Surely if I put in exponentially more work I would end up with something exponentially better, right?

Rising doughBread dough in a loaf pan
Loaf of bread on a wire rackSlice of toast with butter

If anyone has recommendations for the best bread recipe book ever, I’d love to see them. While my mom is an amazing bread baker, she doesn’t really work from the sort of recipes I need (hers say things like “add enough flour to get the right consistency”), so I’d like to find a fantastic cook book to steer me in the right direction.

Loaf with a piece of toast

American Sandwich Bread

The New Best Recipe (published by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated)

Time: About 2 hours (lots of inactive time)

Yield: One 9-inch loaf

Ingredients

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)

Preparation

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.

About these ads

17 Comments »

  1. prissyperfection said

    Being on the hunt for the perfect loaf of bread, I may have to resort to making it myself just as you have. It sounds yummy.
    On the other hand, while I enjoy the cooking part, I’m not really crazy about the cleaning up part!
    Thanks for the recipe. In one of my more ambitious moments, I might very well try it!

  2. Karina said

    Thanks for checking out my blog! I hope you try the bread, it was so little work and tasted so good. I’m not a big fan of the cleanup either, but it wasn’t even that bad. It’s definitely a great recipe for your first time making bread.

  3. Michelle said

    Your bread looks absolutely perfect! A book you might want to check out (it’s on my wish list) is The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. He has a number of different books out but I do believe that this one is kind of the basic starting point.

  4. Karina said

    Michelle- Thank you! And also thanks for the recommendation. I looked it up on Amazon and it looks wonderful. My library has one of his other books, so I will have to check it out.

  5. ourkitchensink said

    Karina: That’s some gorgeous bread. I completely agree that making bread in the mixer (or, “worse,” bread machine) takes the fun out of it. It took me a while to make full use of my mixer too. But it now lives permanently on the counter and I use it at least a couple times every week. Sadly, mine’s not old enough to buy alcohol (hilarious!) and probably not as vintage/cool as yours.

    As for a cookbook, I’ve also heard great things about Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.”

  6. Karina said

    Thank you! I wish we had room on our counter for the mixer to have a permanent home there, but in our current apartment that just isn’t going to happen. But at least it’s finally getting used now. And thank you for the book recommendation, it sounds like The Bread Baker’s Apprentice may need to make its way home with me!

  7. AS said

    Try “The Bread Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum. She’s my hero! I also have some great sandwich bread recipes on my blog as well, Life’s Too Short For Mediocre Chocolate. Your loaf looks beautiful!

  8. Elizabeth said

    What a great recipe! I am going to try to make it this weekend. I’ve also decided to try my hand at breadmaking.

    Quick note on the KitchenAid mixer -don’t ever be affraid to use it! My Mother gave me her old kitchenaid after she got a new one – it’s from 1957!! It’s a work horse and I would NEVER trust a new one to give me as much power as my goody from the 50′s has given me. It also recently underwent a rewiring, got a new cord, and a new sanding and paint job to restore its beautiful, and original white color. You can see a picture of it on my blog – the Brooklyn Clothesline.

    I hope you have many more adventures with your new-found best friend in the kitchen!

    PS- can you post the marshmallow recipe, I’d be interested in checking it out :)
    Elizabeth

  9. [...] made a delicious loaf of homemade bread. I used this recipe, but last week I used this one and I liked it better. Next came some bagels. And last was my trusty oatmeal banana [...]

  10. Anonymous said

    I’ve made this bread pretty consistently for the past 2 weeks. I’ve started doubling the recipe to make two loaves at a time. From what I’ve read that requires only 1 extra teaspoon of yeast. My family, which includes 4 young children, love this bread. The only thing I’ve tweaked in the recipe is adding the liquid to the dry mixture. Instead, I add the flour to the wet and it seems I don’t need to keep add as much flour. I just add flour until the dough begins to form and then turn up speed. My only question is what is considered medium speed? I alternate between 4 and 6 on my KitchenAid

  11. tracy said

    Have tried many bread recipes and this is the best! I have experienced all the pitfalls that can come with making good bread dough and I had none of these with this recipe. The dough came together well and was easy to work with. This will be my go-to bread recipe going forward.

  12. Jerri Lien said

    Delicious! This bread is a hit at my house :)

  13. [...] Baking Illustrated. Their techniques while a bit fussy are mostly spot on. In fact it’s their American Sandwich Bread recipe that I make most weeks. Well I had downloaded the Cooking Illustrated App for my iPhone and [...]

  14. CHERYL CARLTON said

    I’m getting the Kitchen Aid Pro 600 for an early Christmas gift and plan on making this bread first. I’m sooo excited, I’ve wanted a nice stand mixer for about twenty years, but wouldn’t buy it for myself. What a blessing!! I totally “get” how you felt when you got your mixer, the skies the limit, right? Thanks for the recipe!!

  15. Margie Ferraro said

    Bernard Clayton is the bread authority. His bread books are everything you ever want in the way of baking bread. We have recently moved and I don’t have all the books unpacked yet I think the main book is called The Big Compleat Book of breads. The smaller book is also excellent. The Compleat Book of Small Breads. ISBN 0-684-83692-5.
    The first bread I made from that book was bialys at my husband’s request. He said they were perfect. He comes from Brooklyn I had never seen them being from Texas.

  16. Sonya said

    This very likely produced the most beautiful (and tasty) loaf of (yeast) bread that I’ve ever made. I followed every step of the recipe and can’t wait to make it again. This is what all sandwich bread should taste like!

  17. will said

    I grew up in a household of people who love to cook from great grandparents to parents all with different recipes and ways of writing them. As far as your hand me down recipe goes by grandmother was the same way. A pinch of this and just enough of that. I asked her once to break it down for me. She told me and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. ” food is alive in the person that cooks it. You can’t use a recipe with exact measurement because of this fact. Trial and error is the mark of a true lover of cooking.”
    Don’t give up on family recipes take what you have and build from it. Personally i found that a pinch is about a 1/4 tsp and for bread at least just enough is for how large or dence you want the bread to be. Usually for a fluffy bread 3 1/2 cups flour takes 3 1/2 tsp yeast.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: