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Monday, April 1, 2013

Honey white sandwich bread

In case no one had noticed, I make a lot of homemade bread here.  I have nothing against store-bought bread.  I just happen to like the taste of homemade better.  I make my own hamburger buns (in fact, I haven't bought hamburger buns in at least nine months) and several kinds of rolls including garlic knots and honey yeast rolls.  I make some delicious pizza dough with rosemary.  You should smell the house when the pizza is cooking; the whole place smells like rosemary.  I make a peasant bread that doesn't require any kneading and is absolutely fabulous and deceptively easy.

But my favorite bread that I make is sandwich bread.  It's white bread (I haven't made the leap to using wheat flour yet) and is sweetened with honey rather than sugar.  It's sturdy yet still soft and makes great sandwiches.  It even holds up well enough for grilled cheese (which the peasant bread does not).  I use it for all kinds of sandwiches, but we also like to cut a big chunk off the ends to eat with our beef stew.

I have used the stand mixer to make this, but since mine is not a heavy duty Kitchenaid mixer I actually prefer to knead by hand.  I make most of my bread this way, but you could easily do this in the stand mixer. My stand mixer does have a dough hook, but does not have a paddle attachment.  Even when I do make bread in the mixer, I mix the dough by hand with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until the recipe says to switch to the dough hook.  (Directions in orange are for using a stand mixer to knead the dough.)

I don't like to mess with bread recipes.  Every bread recipe I've ever tried was pretty much perfect the way it was when I found it.  This particular recipe is from Annie's Eats.  It is her American Sandwich Bread.  Once I tried this recipe I quit looking for sandwich bread recipes.  I have quite a few pinned but haven't bothered with them yet because I like this one so well.  If you'd rather check out her post, her directions may be easier to understand than mine.  Her pictures are certainly better, but either way you're going to get a really great bread if you make this.

Honey White Sandwich Bread

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk, warmed to 105-115 degrees
1/3 cup water, warmed to 105-115 degrees
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp honey
2 1/4 tsp (1 package) instant yeast

In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) combine 3 1/2 cups of flour and the salt.  Whisk to combine.  (Whisking lightens the flour a bit, and salt kills yeast so the better you mix the salt into the flour the better your yeast will work.)  In a glass 2-cup or 4-cup measuring cup combine the milk, water, butter, and honey.  Mix with a fork to be sure the honey gets combined.  Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid ingredients and set aside about 5 minutes.  Mix again with the fork to combine the yeast, and pour the liquid over the flour.  Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula (or with the dough hook on low) until the dough comes together.  Once the dough comes together turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead with well-floured hands for about 10 minutes, (or switch the mixer to high and knead for 10 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice if necessary)  until it becomes smooth and elastic.  Once the dough is smooth form it into a ball, coat very lightly with oil, and place in a large, lightly oiled mixing bowl.  If you kneaded by hand you can use the same bowl you used to mix it, just make sure you scraped it out well when you began kneading the dough.  Cover with a towel damp kitchen towel.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees for one minute.  After preheating for one minute turn the oven off.  The oven will be somewhere between 130-180 degrees, no more than 200 degrees.  Place the bowl inside the oven and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.  Spread into a rectangle about 9 inches wide and an inch thick.  Roll into a 9 inch long log, pressing the dough together so it sticks as you roll.  Pinch the seam together with your fingers.  Place seam-side down in a 9x5 loaf pan, sprayed lightly with vegetable oil spray. Cover with the kitchen towel and set aside on the counter to rise until almost doubled again, 20-30 minutes.

Place one oven rack at the lowest position.  Place a deep pan with about 2 cups of water on the low rack.  Place the other oven rack in the middle position.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.  Once cooled, slice and enjoy.

To keep longer you can freeze this bread.  Lay the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Add a piece of wax paper and add a second layer of bread.  Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for 1 hour.  Once the bread is frozen hard remove it from the freezer.  Stack it back into loaf shape and slip it into a gallon size freezer bag.  Freeze for no more than a month.  To thaw either set on the counter at room temperature for about 15 minutes or thaw in the microwave in 15 second intervals until soft.

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