Basic White Bread
October 27, 2008 § Leave a comment
I’ve been a baking fool lately. Blame it on the tomato basil baguette and sourdough. With my so-so result with the sourdough bread the last go around, I thought I’d abandon all mixer and do the next batch of loaves all by hand. Yup, all by hand. I thought handling the dough from beginning to end will give me a better feel for the white bread since this was my first attempt at white “sandwich” bread.
Since I’ve had good luck with Betsy Oppenneer’s recipes, I decided to try her basic white bread recipe. Results? Wonderful! I hadn’t had white sandwich bread since I craved a rousong sandwich on Wonder Bread over a year ago. I wish I had some rousong now! Anyway, on to the recipe.
2 (1/4 oz each) packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups of warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Using a large bowl, soften the yeast in the warm water. Add oil, sugar, salt, and 3 cups of the flour. I mixed about 1/2 cup at a time to help with the manual mixing. Beat vigorously with a dough whisk or a heavy-handled wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Make sure the wooden spoon is a sturdy one for risk of breakage.
If you have a dough whisk, this part will be much easier with one. I don’t have one but I do have a cheapo Whisk Magic that I got for free and it’s doing a pretty good job as a stand-in. You’ve seen those Whisk Magic flat whisk infomercials that touts its 5-in-1 use, or something like that.
Add remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the goop forms a mass and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl or you can no longer mix with the whisk or spoon. I was able to incorporate about 5 cups of the flour before my arms became really tired. If it’s really sticky, make sure you flour your work surface and your hands really well.
Turn dough out on the floured work surface. Knead, adding a little bit of flour as needed to prevent sticking, for 8 to 10 minutes. Try to use as little as necessary. Use a dough scraper to scrape the dough if it sticks. If you don’t have one, a spatula can help. The dough is ready when it’s smooth, elastic, and you see blisters (small bubbles beneath the surface) on the surface.
Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat the entire ball. Cover with a tightly woven kitchen towel or cover with plastic. Put it somewhere warm with no drafts and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out on a lightly oiled work surface. I use my cookie sheet. I find that the surface is easier to oil than a wooden board. Divide the dough in half. How to describe folding a sandwich loaf can be hard so I’ll try my best. I searched YouTube for some videos and there are all sorts of variations to do this. So pick one that works well for you. Here’s what I did.
With one of the cut sections of dough, use your fingers to gently press the dough into a rectangle, about 10 x 14 inches. With the short side facing you, fold the right side to about 1/3 over. Then fold the left side about 1/3 over, overlapping the folded right side. Fold the top over in half to the bottom. Take the bottom and roll up into a tight cylinder, carefully to keep the surface tight but not broken. Gently shape into a roll. Pinch the seam to seal and the ends to seal them. I tuck the ends over onto the seam to give a better finish. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Place both loaves pinched-side down (seam side down), into well-seasoned loaf pans. I used canola oil in 9×5 loaf pans.
Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled. It took about 55 minutes for mine.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Just before putting the loaf pans into the oven, I made a slash with my serrated knife on top of each loaf. I thought it would be pretty this way.
Remove immediately from pans and onto cooling racks. This will prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the loaves cool before cutting. Or if you rather just rip into the warm, delicious loaf, go ahead.
Here’s what the slice of bread looked like after I let them cool for about an hour. Notice all the air holes, airy, soft, tender, and very tasty. The crust was light and for once, I actually ate the but of a sandwich loaf. Yummy.
Mmmm, it tasted wondeful toasted with peanut butter on it. I bet it’s great with PB & J. You can sort of see the folding pattern in the sliced piece. Next time I’ll try to dust off the flour as much as possible when I’m doing the final folding.
Have a wonderful week. Now go and eat well.