recipe: homemade sandwich bread.

the nesting has begun with a vengeance. to the point that my husband keeps acting all surprised when he comes home to the dishes done, the laundry clean and the entire first floor vacuumed. does that mean that i wasn’t cleaning enough before now? don’t answer that.

i’m obviously chalking it up to the baby making me insane, because that’s my excuse for everything these days. forgot to send that email? pregnancy brain. dumped whole coffee beans into the ground coffee canister? pregnancy brain. fall asleep watching youtube videos in bed before Mister Man gets home from hockey? that’s just real life.

there is some good coming out of all this, besides the obvious clean house factor. i’ve been tapping into my inner laura ingalls even more than usual lately, which means making crazy decisions like not buying sliced bread at the grocery store anymore. simplifying life has become a pattern for me these last few weeks. i’ve been incredibly inspired by jenna over at eat, live, run and her preparations for her fast-approaching baby boy. but while her main projects have been freezer meals and preserves, i’m being pulled to replace some staples with scratch-made items. i’m starting with bread, and i think i might even have the husband on board for this change.

my mom sent me this recipe, so i don’t know where it came from, but it is most definitely not my own. i cant lie, it has been a bit of trial and error with the first batch. but please try it. it sounds so scary to bake your own bread, but i don’t think there is anything more satisfying than taking that loaf out of the oven, perfectly browned, and knowing you made it with four ingredients and your own two hands.

i think that bread can be temperamental, and so it’s a lot of learning and guessing and just trusting your gut when you learn how to bake it. i like to think of it as my meditation for becoming a mom. some people have mantras, i have yeast and flour and a loaf pan.

homemade sandwich bread (boule dough), makes 3-4 loaves

  • 3 C. lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher or coarse salt
  • 6 1/2 C. all purpose white flour (or bread flour)

warm the water, it should feel just a little warmer than body temperature (100 degrees). add the yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl, or if you have one, a resealable, lidded food container or bucket. don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

mix in the flour, adding all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry ingredient measuring cups. mix with a wooden spoon, or your mixer fitted with the dough hook, until uniform in texture. the dough will be wet, slightly “shaggy”, and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container you’re using.

allow the dough to rise. cover with a lid that fits well to the container you’re using. don’t use a lid that is totally airtight. for example, i used my kitchen aid mixing bowl to mix the dough, and covered it with saran wrap, which was plenty. allow the mixture to rise in a warm place until it begins to collapse, or flatten on top, about 2 hours. then refrigerate the dough for up to 2 weeks. you can use a portion of the dough any time after this rising period, so you can bake it right away, but It is easier to work with, though, after it has been refrigerated for a while.

to bake:

dust the top surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a cantaloupe sized piece. dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides rotating the ball a quarter at a time as you go. lightly grease a 9x4x3 inch nonstick loaf pan (if it’s not non-stick make sure you grease it well so you will be able to get the bread out of the pan).

elongate the ball into an oval and drop it into the prepared pan. you want to fill the pan slightly more than half full. the first loaf i made only filled the pan about halfway, and so the loaf wasn’t quite tall enough for sandwich bread.

allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough). lightly dust with flour and slash the top of the loaf with the tip of a serrated knife. this allows the top of the loaf to puff up.

20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with an empty broiler tray (or jelly roll pan) on the bottom shelf. the reason you do this is to heat up the oven and the tray to a nice hot temperature before putting the loaf in the oven. when ready to bake, place the loaf pan on a rack near the center of the oven. pour 1 C. of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. bake for about 35 minutes, or until brown and firm.

remove the loaf from the pan immediately and allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing or eating. enjoy with sandwiches or toast at breakfast, my favorite way so far is avocado toast…it’s the perfect combo!

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