American Sandwich Bread from Bread Illustrated

I’ve spoken before of my love for Bread Illustrated, one of my favorite bread books. Others bake sourdough- I don’t, I worry about mold and other bacteria in the “mother”. So I stick to dried yeasts. This is a good intermediate bread to start with. It is also delicious- the honey makes it very slightly sweet. I’ve always used a stand mixer for this- I guess you could do it by hand and use the same gluten development tests I talk about. You need a 81/2 by 41/2 inch loaf pan and high gluten bread flour for this recipe. An instant read thermometer is ideal.

Weigh out/measure the wet and dry ingredients. The wet ingredients measure well by volume, the flour not so much- weighing it is best.

Dry ingredients: In the bowl of a stand mixer- weigh out 13.75 oz of bread flour (2 and half cups) with 2 tsp instant yeast and 1.5 tsp kosher salt

Wet ingredients: Mix 6oz whole milk (3/4 cup) and 2.66 oz water (1/3 cup) and 2 tsp of melted unsalted butter and 2 tbsp of honey. Get this to room temperature and dissolve the honey well

Mix: Add wet ingredients to dry and mix with a dough hook. Start slow and go to medium speed. It takes about 8 minutes. Do the window test- see if you can spread a golf ball sized dough piece enough to allow light to shine through it- if the dough tears- you need more gluten development and knead for 2 more minutes. The dough should be smooth and clear the sides of the bowl- if it sticks to the bottom of the mixer- that is ok.

Proof 1: Take dough out of mixer and knead gently into a round smooth ball. Proof in a oiled covered container. A square container with volume markings helps you measure the “doubling in size”. This takes about 2 hours at 85F and will take longer if your home is cooler (I have a proofing setting in my oven)

Proof 2: Grease your loaf pan. Remove dough on lightly floured surface and flatten gently into an 8 inch by 6 inch rectangle. Roll tighly to form an 8 inch cylinder. Pinch the seams and drop into your loaf pan for the second proof. Cover with oiled plastic film till the bread rises a inch above the lip of the loaf pan and if you indent the dough with a knuckle, it barely bounces back

Bake: Spritz with water or brush top of loaf with water and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, rotating the loaf once midway. The bread is done when the top is golden brown and the temperature of the loaf reads between 205-210F. Let loaf cool in pan for 15 minutes and then on a wire rack for 2-3 hours before slicing.

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