So guys, I’m seriously into bread making. I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve bought bread from the store within the last two years, and those were all “specialty” breads. So, naturally, I have my favorite bread recipe. So why make bread yourself when you can buy it? It’s fun! It’s tasty! It’s versatile! If you just don’t get it, then I really wouldn’t worry yourself about it.
So here it is. My go-to recipe for the softest, most delicious sandwich bread you’ll ever eat. Ok, that’s a little extreme. It’s good, but it’s not “slap your momma” good. But it could be. You’ll never know until you try it yourself!
Basic Sandwich Bread
(Makes 2 loaves)
- 2½ cups warm water
- 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 6 – 6½ cups flour (either AP or bread flour work for this recipe)
- 2 tsp salt
- ¼ cup butter, softened
Pour ½ cup of the water into a big bowl (stand mixer is easier, but it’s more fun to make a mess with your hands). Stir in the yeast and sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
Add the rest of the water and about half of the flour. Stir (or you can use the dough hook of your stand mixer) until well blended, then slowly add the rest of the flour, the salt, and the butter (I like to cut it up into chunks and add them one piece at a time). It gets a little sloppy during this phase, and that’s ok! Sloppy is good. Let the mixer go for about 8 minutes on a low speed (I use the first or second speed on mine), or knead by hand for 10-15 minutes. You can add a little more flour if you feel like it needs some, but it’ll start to hold its shape better as it keeps going. You’re going for smooth and tacky, but not “sticky.” if it is, add a touch more flour.
You’ll know it’s done when you form it into a ball. It should hold its shape nicely, and when you poke it there should be a good spring to the dough. Make a ball and pop it back in the bowl to rise. There’s no need to oil the bowl for this recipe like most recipes seem to suggest. Cover with a towel and let it sit in a warm spot for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. I’ve found that the oven is a perfect place for proving dough. Just turn on the oven light, and it gets nice and cozy in there.
Punch down the dough and knead it again until smooth. Divide in two and shape into a roll the length of your loaf pan. Place dough in greased loaf pan and let it rise in a clean plastic bag until it’s 1 inch above the rim of your pan.
I usually use half the dough to make a loaf, and stick the other half in the freezer after the first rise (more about what to do with the extra dough in a future post!)
When it’s ready to go, bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the pan and let it cool completely on a cooling rack. Yum!
So there you go. Easy peasy. Now stop making excuses and give it a go!