I love baking bread! For a long time, I have spent my baking hours obsessing over perfect artisan loaves. I have made dozens of peasant loaves, sourdoughs, and olive boules, and by this count, almost a hundred baguettes. Nico loves baguette! It never crossed my mind, for some reason, to develop a sandwich loaf. Perhaps it was because “square breads” remind me of wonder bread, which reminds me of everything I hate about bread.
Since my return from London, I have been feverishly preparing to throw a high tea, which requires lovely, delicate finger sandwiches. I did not have a recipe for a loaf of bread that can be cut into these crustless masterpieces. I decided to learn how to make a great sandwich bread!
Modifying some of my sweet breads and challah recipes, I found what I think is a perfect loaf of white sandwich bread. It has a bit of sweetness to make either a sweet or savory sandwich and a soft, but golden brown crust achieved by a thin coat of butter before baking.
The loaf is hard to mess up and lasts at least 3 days wrapped on the counter. I have not had the chance to test it for longer since it keeps disappearing!
Perfect Sandwich Bread
1 1/2 cup warm milk
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 – 3 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, separated, softened
2 eggs, beaten
5 1/2 cup bread flour
- Whisk and dissolve yeast in the milk.
- Add to bowl of stand mixer with kneading attachment.
- Add the sugar, salt, and beaten eggs.
- Add 1 cup flour. Mix on low until incorporated.
- Add 3 tbsp butter and 2 more cups flour. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
- Add remaining flour and mix on low speed until gathered into a ball.
- Mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth and and pliable.
- Cover in oil and place in a covered bowl. Place in cold oven with pilot light on and allow to rise to twice its size. Depending on the temperature, it may take between 1 and 2 hours.
- Flour a counter and knead the loaf for 3 minutes.
- Add a bit more oil if needed when returning to bowl. Rise for 45 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, coat the inside or two 5X9 inch baking tins using about 1 tbsp butter per pan.
- Flatten the dough and divide in half.
- Fold into a rectangle with folded sides down and place in the tins.
- Cover and let rise until just taller than the rim, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees with convection fan on.
- Melt remaining butter and brush onto tops of loaves.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Lower heat to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes.
Total cooking time: 4 hours, about 20 minutes active