Is there nothing more satisfying than a warm loaf of freshly baked homemade bread? Not in my book and apparently, not according to so many of you who entered the KitchenAid Mixer giveaway last week and told us that the first thing you would do with said mixer is make homemade bread. Well folks, congrats to Steph who said:
Steph is the winner of the KitchenAid mixer and even though her plans are to make chocolate chip cookies (her coworkers are really excited about her win, by the way), I’m pretty sure she’s going to want to make this bread also. Heck, you’re going to want to make this bread because it is quite possibly the most fantastically amazing homemade white bread ever created.
Overly effusive? Yes. Lying? No. Seriously, it’s difficult for me to accurately describe the perfectly soft crumb without snacking on a piece of it with some softened butter and tangy rhubarb strawberry jam as I sit and write this post (actually, it’s not so difficult for me to do this). It’s difficult for me to tell you how four adults nearly devoured an entire loaf in one day. And it’s difficult for me to tell you that I will be making my third loaf this weekend in as many weeks. I beg you, please go and make this bread so you can start telling me how awesome it is. This bread is the epitome of what homemade sandwich bread should be. It’s bread that can make you squeal with delight over eating a turkey sandwich. We love it dearly. You will too.
American Sandwich Bread
source: adapted from Baking Illustrated, by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
- 2 tsp table salt
- 1 cup milk, warm (about 110 degrees F)
- 1/3 cup water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 package or 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Once oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain heat 10 minutes, then turn off oven heat. I use the proof setting on my oven which maintains the heat at 85 degrees F so if your kitchen is warm enough, there is no need to use the oven for proofing – just keep the bowl in a draft-free area of the kitchen.
- Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast in 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn mixer to low and slowly add liquid. When dough comes together, remove the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook – the dough will be very sticky at this point. Increase speed to medium (setting number 4 on a KitchenAid mixer) and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 10 minutes. If, after 5 minutes the dough still sticks to the side of the bowl, add another 1/4 cup of flour to the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.
- Place dough in very lightly oiled bowl, rubbing dough around bowl to lightly coat. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap; place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Form dough into loaf by gently pressing the dough into a rectangle, 1-inch thick and no wider than 9 inches long, with the long side closest to you. Next, starting with the long side, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pinching the seam with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn dough seam side up and pinch it closed. Place dough in greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and press gently so dough touches all four sides of pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap; set aside in warm spot (not in the oven) until dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust the racks to the center and bottom positions. Place an empty baking pan on the bottom rack. Bring 2 cups water to boil.
- Remove plastic wrap from loaf pan. Place pan in oven and immediately pour heated water into empty baking pan; close oven door. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted at angle from short end just above pan rim into center of loaf reads 195 degrees F, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.