Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A Sturdy White Sandwich Loaf

I use a Pullman loaf pan for this bread, without the top. You can use two standard loaf pans, or even a large Pyrex casserole dish for a round or oval loaf.

I do quite a bit of sourdough, wholegrain bread baking as I find it interesting, and challenging. My family likes that sort of bread, but sometimes a white, yeast risen loaf is called for. This is one of my most reliable methods for this sort of bread, and I will share it. Note that I called it a method, rather than a recipe.

How much flour this loaf will take depends on so many factors that I won't give an exact weight of flour. I don't find ratios of water/flour helpful, though many people do bake that way successfully. You need to figure out what works best for your kitchen, and ignore everyone else. I won't claim this is the best way to bake this sort of loaf, only that it works for me.

Roughly, it takes 4 hours start to finish for this loaf. In warm weather it may rise faster, but you really need to block out the time for it. The hands-on time is fairly limited.

Warm 1 cup milk (any % you like) with 4 tablespoons butter or margarine (I have used both). Heat 1 cup water to lukewarm. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated (not instant) yeast on top. Add 1 tablespoon sugar, and stir until dissolved. Add the warm milk and slightly melted butter. Add 2 cups Strong flour, and mix well. Add 1 tablespoon coarse salt, or slightly less table salt. You can adjust this down if you like, but as it makes 1 very large, or two regular sized loaves, it isn't quite as much as it sounds like at first. Slowly add more flour until you can handle the dough into a shaggy ball. Place it back in the bowl, cover it, and let it rest 20 minutes. Return to the dough, and add only as much flour as you require to knead it without sticking. This will vary. When you are satisfied that you have given your dough a good kneading, place it in a lightly buttered bowl, cover it and let it rest 30 minutes. Take the dough out, give it two folds like an envelope, then return it to the bowl to rise for another hour. It should be risen nearly to the top of the bowl. If it does not appear doubled, let it go a bit longer.

Take the dough out, deflate it, and divide it if making two loaves. Let rest 30 minutes before shaping and placing into well buttered tins. Cover lightly, and let rise until nearly doubled-30-40 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If you wish to have the tops dusted with flour, glazed, or washed with seeds, do so before placing in the oven.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F., and rotate pan. Bake another 20-30 minutes or until done. Cool on a rack. For a soft crust, run a stick of butter over the top immediately after removing from the oven.

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