Back to Basics: White Sandwich Bread

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Something possibly strange about me is that when I learned to make bread, I first learned how to make beautifully light loaves of 100% whole wheat bread. (Thanks to Bruce and Carla Crane, the owners of our store.) A basic white sandwich bread was my downfall. It seems that it’s usually the other way around. But either way, sometimes I just want white bread. And since I’ve had several requests from our customers for some instruction on a good white loaf, I decided that there’s no time like the present to do that.

Oh, but remember that white bread was my downfall? Every time I made white bread, it would end up dense and kind of flat. It was great for French toast, but not much else. Not sure I should be the one to tell people how to make good white bread. So about 3 months ago, I went on a search for a great recipe for white sandwich bread and tried to figure out why mine always ended up so dense.

I tested, failed, tested some more, succeeded, tested some more, failed, and tested some more. I did finally succeed and I’m now able to duplicate the same perfect loaf every time.

Here’s what I learned:

  • White bread needs to be kneaded for 8-10 minutes. When I make whole wheat bread, I knead it for about half that time. So, when I made white bread, I figured I’d knead it for the same amount of time. White flour needs more time for the gluten to develop fully.
  • White bread needs more flour in the dough than whole wheat bread. The dough needs to be stiffer. If it’s too sticky, it will spill over the sides of the bread pan a little when it’s baking. That doesn’t make for a very pretty loaf.
  • Definitely always add dough enhancer. This is huge. Dough enhancer helps to create a more even crumb texture and it helps add a little more elasticity and softness to the bread.
Buttery White Sandwich Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 T SAF Instant yeast
  2. 3 1/4 cups warm water
  3. 1/4 cup honey
  4. 1 1/2 T dough enhancer
  5. 1 T salt
  6. 3 T butter, softened
  7. 9-10 cups all-purpose flour
  8. butter for brushing on the tops of the loaves
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, water, honey, dough enhancer, salt, and butter.
  2. Add 5 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed until smooth.
  3. Gradually add the remaining flour, adding just enough to make a smooth but slightly sticky dough.
  4. Knead on low speed for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6. When the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 3 equal portions. Shape each portion into loaves and place into greased bread pans. (I used 8-inch Norpro pans.)
  7. Cover and let rise until the tops of the loaves reach 1 to 1 1/2 inches above the tops of the pans.
  8. While the loaves are rising, preheat your oven to 425 F.
  9. When the loaves are risen, place them in your preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack, and brush tops with melted butter.
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