25 May, 2022
Oh, sandwich bread – how I love thee! I have a couple bread/bun recipes that I use all the time, but I’m always interested, when I have time, in trying new ones.
This is a pretty basic recipe, but there were a couple techniques for determining how the dough is doing that I thought I would share.
The other day, I was poking around, deciding what I wanted for breakfast when I realized, there was 1 piece of bread left. One! One piece does not make a sandwich, it isn’t worth toasting and I have no avocado, so it wasn’t worth making avocado toast with. Oh no!
All this happened while I was still in my pajamas! I made bread. At 9am. On a Sunday. Because I wanted eggs on cheesy bread and by all that is holy, I was having it.
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast (or one of those pouches)
- 1 TB sugar or honey or maple syrup or agave (this is going to feed the yeasty beasties, so feed them well)
- Mixture from proofing
- 4 -1/3 cups flour
- 1/3 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsp salt – I used pink salt – don’t use table salt, it’s finer and will make your bread very salty. If it’s all you have, use about 1/2 a teaspoon
- 2 TB hone, or sugar, or maple syrup or agave
- 1/2 TB vinegar
- 2 TB unsalted butter or vegetable oil
To proof the yeast (this is a good idea to do every time yeast is used): Put the 1 cup of warm water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl if mixing by hand. Mix a little and leave it for 10-15 minutes. If the mixture is foamed up, your yeast is active. If it is not foamed up, toss it and try different yeast.
***Make sure you aren’t trying to proof in a cold place, yeast likes warm, not cold, not hot.
Once the yeast is activated, add the rest of the ingredients and mix. If doing this by hand, use a dough whisk or a wooden spoon to get things put together a bit. When things get difficult, it’s time to do the mixing by hand. Mix until the dough comes together in a rough dough. Take it out and knead it until it’s smooth and elastic, only slightly tacky.
If using a stand mixer (got my vote), put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and flick the switch – start with the lowest speed. Once it’s a rough dough, up the speed a notch or two and let it mix for 10 minutes or so.
This is where the tips come in, which I thought were brilliant.
- If, while mixing, the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl (or the counter and everything else it touches) add flour, a very scant amount at a time.
- Mix for a few minutes, turn off the mixer and lift the dough hook. If the dough doesn’t stick to the bottom of the bowl, it needs a little more moisture. Add about half a teaspoon at a time until it is tacky and will stick to the bottom of the bowl. I ended up having to add about 3 teaspoons – Calgary is super dry, so it’s understandable. In a more humid climate, the likelihood is needing more flour than water.
When the dough is the right consistency, take the dough out and hand knead it just a few times, to get the dough into one ball and nice and smooth.
Spray down a bowl and plop the dough in to rise. I always just use the mixing bowl – I spray the bottom, drop in the dough ball, spray the top, cover with a towel, turn my oven on to 100F and pop the bowl in. When the oven hits temperature, I turn it off and that’s enough heat to give the dough a boost and keep it warm and draft free to rise. A neutral oil rather than a spray can be used, as well.
Once the dough has doubled in size, or is ready (press gently on it – if it springs back, it’s ready), chop in half and form into loaves. Spray or oil two bread pans and put your loaves in. Spray or oil the tops, cover with a towel and put in the oven to rise. This will take about three quarters of an hour to an hour (45 – 60 minutes). Once ready, if proving in the oven, take out of the oven, and preheat to 375F.
When the oven is ready, pop the loaves in (leave space between for air flow) and bake for about 45 minutes. It’s done when golden brown not just on top and it sounds hollow when tapped.
Take out, let cool for a couple minutes, then pop out of the bread pans and let cool completely….assuming anyone can wait that long.
Mine came out absolutely perfect. They popped out of the pans beautifully. That never happens…normally, I lose a corner, if not half the bottom.
After all was said and done, though, I still had a loaf of rye bread in the freezer!