Usually there is a memory of homemade bread floating around in your head; something that got you wanting to make your own bread in the first place. Sometimes you just have to go back to that original soft white loaf of bread, warm and fresh from the oven, that is so enticing you simply cannot wait for it to cool completely before slicing it open. Slather the first piece in plain butter and add some homemade jam to the second one. Maybe butter and honey on the third... Oops, did I say third? It's just killing me that I can't eat this delicious bread right now. One more month or two of low carb. Anyway, I needed sandwich bread for the school week and decided to go back to basics. This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, is touted to be the perfect sandwich bread. After baking it up I think I tend to agree. This is a soft, fluffy bread that is not so tender it can't stand up to a spread of soft butter even if it is still slightly warm. (Though you are supposed to wait until it cools for ultra thin sliceability.) It is probably the exact type of bread that those secret little hometown diners would use for grilled cheese and Texas or garlic toast. This is the homemade wonderbread. Well, maybe not. You can't wad this loaf into a ball of dough that will fit in one hand. But it would certainly make the quintessential PB&J.
"Below is the recipe for the bread that Walter made faithfully once a week for years. Walter was the father of Frank E. Sands, King Arthur Flour's current chairman of the board. Because of his arthritic hands, he used a bread bucket with a crank, which kneaded hundred [sic] of loaves of this fragrant bread with all its happy associations. "
From King Arthur Flour
2 cups (16 oz) warm water
2 tbsp (7/8 oz) sugar or honey (1½ oz) I used granulated coconut sugar
1 scant tbsp or packet active dry yeast I used 1 tsp Instant Yeast for a half batch
½ cup (2 oz) dry milk powder or granules (1¼ ounces), optional
2 tbsp (1 oz) butter, softened
6 cups (25½ oz) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons salt
Pour the warm water into a mixing bowl. Add and let dissolve the sugar or honey and then the yeast. When the yeast is bubbling, add the dry milk, butter and 3 cups of flour and the salt. Mix together and then stir in a further 2 1/2 cups of flour. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup on the surface you intend to use for kneading.
Knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to behave as if it belonged together. Let it rest while you clean and grease the bowl. Continue kneading a further 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough feels smooth and springy.
Let the dough rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours). Knock it down, knead out any stray bubbles, cut it in half and form two loaves. Place them in two lightly greased 4 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch bread pans. Let rise until almost doubled (45 minutes to 1 hour).
Preheat the oven for 15 minutes to 350°F. Bake the loaves 35 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove bread from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: 2 loaves.
(I like to brush my hot out of the oven loaves with butter for a soft, buttery crust. Mmmmmm.)
This post will be submitted to Yeastspotting.
And yes, it does indeed make a fabulous grilled cheese!