I realized I forgot to buy a loaf of sandwich bread at the store the other day, so I just decided to make my own. I’m glad I did. It came out much firmer and tastier than standard white bread.
I’m only blogging it because the recipe is so good and so simple. I don’t want to forget it. I got it from About.com. The dough takes about two hours to rise and about forty-five minutes to cook. You need to let it cool for at least fifteen minutes, so this is a three hour recipe.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 cup of warm water
- 6-7 cups of unbleached bread flour
Heat 1 cup of milk and 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat when the butter is melted. Set aside to cool.
Pour 1/2 cup of warm water into a small bowl. Slowly pour yeast into bowl while stirring. The constant stirring while adding the yeast will prevent the dry yeast from clumping. Set the bowl of yeast water aside for about 5 minutes while you work on the next 2 steps.
In a large bowl, add sugar, salt, and 1 cup of warm water. Mix.
Check the small saucepan of milk and butter. If the contents are warm to the touch, pour the liquid into the large bowl and mix.
Pour the yeast water into the large bowl. It is important that the batter is warm, not boiling hot. Hot liquid, such as the milk you heated up, will kill the dry yeast and prevent the bread from rising.
Begin mixing in the unbleached bread flour, one cup at a time. By the fifth cup of flour, the dough will begin to get stiff and it will be difficult to mix it with the wooden spoon. Turn dough out onto a floured board and begin to knead the dough. Continue adding more flour and kneading the flour into the dough until the dough is smooth, not sticky.
Next, grease a large bowl with butter. Put the bread dough into the bowl and then turn the dough over so that the top of the dough is now buttered. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise at room temperature until double in size or about 1 hour.
Punch down dough. Turn it out onto a floured board and knead out all the bubbles for about 5 minutes. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a loaf by rolling the dough into a rectangle. Roll the dough up like a jellyroll. Pinch seam closed. Pinch and tuck edges under the loaf.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter two loaf pans. Spread a light layer of yellow cornmeal on the loaf pans, if desired. Set loaves in pans, cover with kitchen towel, and allow to rise until double in size or for about a half hour.
Bake bread for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove bread from oven and turn out loaves onto a rack or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to cool before cutting.
I mixed everything in the stand mixer and kneaded it with the dough hook on the second setting for a few minutes. It’s taken me years to learn what dough looks like when it’s wet, dry, smooth, etc. This dough gets worked until it’s smooth. Then I transferred it to a buttered bowl to rise. I like the crust you get on French bread better than standard white bread, so I brushed an egg white over the dough just before baking. I also like the crunch from corn meal on the underside of bread (and pizza crust), so I sprinkled some inside the bread pans. This is what the inside should look like when it’s done right.