Jordan was on a bread kick for a while, making all kinds of delicious breads from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. Sadly, his bread baking has declined since he is super busy being an awesome student. I decided to pick up the torch when my friend Andrea recommended a fail-proof sandwich bread recipe that she’s been making for the past few weeks. I like fail-proof, especially when there is hours of rising time on the line.
Farmhouse White, a classic sandwich bread by Farmgirl Fare
4 cups all-purpose flour (I used Whole Foods 365 brand)
1 1/2 T instant yeast (I used Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast)
2 T granulated or brown sugar
2 T melted butter
4 cups milk, warmed to 85 degrees
About 6 cups bread flour (I used King Arthur Bread Flour – King Arthur makes quality flours and I recommend them)
1 1/2 T salt
Mix together the all-purpose flour, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the warm milk and melted butter. Mix well. Continue to stir vigorously slowing adding the bread flour one cup at a time, until you have added 3 – 4 cups and have a sticky, shaggy dough. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
Walk your whiny dog who can’t understand why you are putzing around in the kitchen when at this hour you should be walking her to the park.
Add the salt and 1 more cup of the bread flour. Stir as best you can. Add a bit more flour if the dough seems too sticky to knead. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead with floured hands for 8 – 10 minutes. Your arms will get very tired, but you will find an awesome slapping-dough-into-counter-rhythm that will allow you to confidently turn down the assistance of your much stronger boyfriend.
Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and dust the top with flour. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 60 – 75 minutes in a warm place. I used the oven with pans of boiling water inside technique developed when I made cinnamon rolls and it worked very well.
Grease 3 loaf pans (I used two glass pans and one metal pan without issue). Turn the dough onto a floured counter. Divide into 3 equal balls and pat into loaf-like shapes. Put the dough in the loaf pans and dust with flour. Cover with a tea towel and let them rise for another 40 – 60 minutes. They are ready to go into the oven when you poke a floured finger into the dough and it springs back just a little.
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Bake the loaves for 35 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove the loaves from their pans immediately and allow to cool on a rack for 40 minutes. Store at room temperature in a bag or in the freezer wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
This bread is good. It has a great crumb and a mild taste. It makes great peanut butter sandwiches and awesome grilled cheese sandwiches. It contains just a few normal ingredients, not a ton of weird gums and preservatives like store-bought sandwich breads. Now that I have the classic recipe down, I am excited to try a few variations … maybe adding some whole grain flours or sourdough bread starter.