First, read my brief inspirational post about why you shouldn’t be afraid of baking your own bread. A couple of the breads I bake regularly take up 24 hours of elapsed time, but I wanted to start things off easier. Begin baking this bread in the morning and you’ll have a fresh loaf for lunch. I had always wanted to try a simple white sandwich loaf but didn’t have an excuse to bake one, until now. This really is a tremendous bread – probably the best white bread I’ve ever had.
This recipe is largely adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe – with one key change.
- 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (this is the key change. The KAF recipe calls for “regular” milk, but using buttermilk adds more flavor to the loaf from the traditional buttermilk tang.)
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 11/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast or 1 package active dry yeast, mixed and foamed with 1 tablespoon water
Step 1. Combine and mix all ingredients together, then knead with electric mixer for 7 minutes, or by hand for a couple minutes more. The dough will be ready when it is smooth and stretchy, and doesn’t tear easily.
Step 2. Shape dough into ball; let sit in covered, lightly greased bowl for 1 hour.
Step 3. Dump dough out onto lightly greased surface (I use a cookie sheet). Stretch out, then fold in thirds and shape into log. Place into loaf pan. (Note: The KAF recipe calls for a 81/2×41/2-inch loaf pan, which I don’t have. For a long time I’ve been using 10×5-inch loaf pans, which are really a little to big for most baking projects. If you’re going to buy new pans, opt for 9×5-inch. This is a wide-enough size for sandwiches, yet a bit shorter so breads are taller.) Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap.
Step 4. Let dough rise 90 minutes, or until dough has crested above the pan’s edge (with a small 81/2×41/2 pan, the dough will be at least 1 inch over). During last 30 minutes of rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 5. Bake bread for 35 minutes, until crust is golden brown. The bread’s interior temperature should be 190 degrees F. Remove from loaf pan and cool for at least 45 minutes.