Its pretty simple: I love baking bread and I love eating bread. I bring bread to almost every food swap and am always experimenting with a new kind. Lately, I have been making so much bread, English muffins, biscuits, etc, that I have not purchased any bread products from the grocery store in quite some time. We are fortunate enough to have no dietary restrictions or allergies, so I am free to try whatever I feel like. At the request of my family, I needed to create “regular” bread: bread suitable for toasting or sandwiches that would stay moist and fresh tasting for several days and basically serve as a substitute for the sliced bread I used to purchase.
Note that my sandwich bread recipe is NOT intended to replicate that bread but is simply a suitable substitute for the things we used that bread for on an almost daily basis. In developing this recipe, I took inspiration from my favorite challah – specifically it’s moistness and light crumb, and an old family recipe for oatmeal-molasses bread, which has great flavor but goes stale pretty quickly.
Perfect Homemade Sandwich Bread
makes 2 loaves
Ingredients in 3 Parts
1 cup lukewarm (not warmer than 100 degrees) water
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey OR molasses
1 Tablespoon salt
1/4 cup butter or light flavored oil (breads with butter taste better but stale a bit faster)
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 cups flour, whole wheat, white or a blend (I use half and half)
Proof the yeast: dissolve yeast and sugar in one cup lukewarm water. After a few minutes it should be frothy, like this:
PART 2 (concurrent to PART 1)
In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, wheat flour, honey or molasses, salt and butter.
Add boiling water and stir well. Let stand while the sponge from part one gets spongy; the oatmeal mixture should cool to room temperature.
Add the yeast mixture (PART 1) to the oatmeal mixture (PART 2). Lightly beat the eggs and stir into the mix. Add three cups of the remaining flour and the baking powder and stir well. *This can also be done in a stand mixer with dough hook attachment.*
Knead in the remaining flour (more or less as necessary to acheive a elastic dough that can be kneaded in a light dusting of flour without sticking to the counter).
Knead for a few minutes more. Honestly, for me kneading all depends on how much time I have and what type of mood I am in. Fortunately, the bread recipes generally turn out OK regardless of whether I’ve kneaded 2 minutes or 4, I would just recommend not going too far which would result in a tough dough and flat, dense loaf. I am generally way to busy and distracted and err on the side of underkneading – I think all the magic happens in the rise anyway.
Cover with a damp towel and rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Or, cover loosely with plastic wrap and rise overnight in the fridge. If rising in the fridge, allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 1/2 hour before shaping loaves.
Prepare 2 loaf pans by lightly oiling. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Gently press dough down in the bowl and cut in half. Remove 1/2 of the dough, press flat and simply roll into a log roughly the length of your loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining 1/2 of the dough. Cover loaves with a damp, lightweight towel and let rise on top of your pre-heating over for about 1/2 hour, or until risen to the top of the loaf pan and slightly rounded over.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until lightly browned and hollow-sounding when tapped. Remove from oven & loaf pans. Cool on a wire rack. It’s best to cool completely before slicing as slicing when hot releases moisture from the rest of the loaf and compromises the texture of whatever isn’t eaten hot… but I can relate if you can’t resist!
For maximum shelf-life, store the bread in an airtight bag or container. If your family doesn’t eat bread FAST like mine, you may freeze the extra loaf as soon as it has cooled. To use, simply defrost *out of the bag/container* at room temperature until thawed, then enjoy and store airtight. Fresh bread doesn’t last more than three to four days in my house, so I can’t make any promises about it’s quality beyond that!