I tend to go on and on about the benefits of no-knead bread dough, so much that it has possibly been a year or more since I baked a loaf of bread the old-fashioned way. Yesterday, after a disastrous batch of no-knead multigrain bread (sometimes my experiments with the base recipe don’t turn out so well), I dug into my binder and pulled out a well-tested recipe for white sandwich bread. I had school lunches to make the next morning and baking bread sounded nicer than bundling up to face the 10 degree Arctic blast to make my way to the store.
This is a great recipe for a first attempt at bread baking, especially if you have a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook. You don’t even have to knead by hand if you don’t want to! Being me, I had to experiment a little, and instead of water, I used whey left over and frozen from a batch of homemade ricotta. Either way, this bread has a fine crumb and a mild, barely sweet flavor perfect for sandwiches or toast.
I like to slice the bread as soon as it is cool, while the crust is a little bit crispy and firm. Then I store the loaf in an airtight plastic bag or container, where the crust will soften a little bit. I keep one loaf out to use right away, and freeze the second.
White Sandwich Bread
Makes 2 loaves
2 cups warm water or whey
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 T. active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour
3 cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute white whole wheat flour)
In a large bowl, proof yeast in warm water mixed with sugar; when you start to see a little bubbling or foaming, stir in salt and oil. Mix in flour (with a wooden spoon by hand, or in the stand mixer), a cup at a time, until dough is smooth. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup more flour if dough is really sticky. Knead by hand or in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 8 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl, turn the dough to coat it, cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise in a warm spot of your kitchen (I like inside the microwave) until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and knead for 2 minutes. Divide the dough in half, stretch each into a log, and place in two greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise for another hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove the loaves from their pans and cool completely on a rack before slicing.
Melissa Jerves writes about food, family and 21st century home economics on her blog, Home Baked.