To paraphrase Tom Colicchio from the introduction of the ‘wichcraft cookbook: the right bread is just as important as the rest of the ingredients in a great sandwich. There are certain pleasures in life, such as the exquisite simplicity of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on soft sliced bread, which cannot be improved upon by using sophisticated ingredients. I get it! As much as I am not a fan of white sliced bread, even I have to admit there are certain things, egg salad or tuna salad for example, that just seem wrong on heartier, more flavorful loaves. Likewise, could you imagine a Corned Beef Reuben without a hearty rye bread to support all that salty meat, melted cheese, dressing, and tart Sauerkraut? No.
I was raised on “brown bread,” homemade jam, and real peanut butter from the local Co-op, which separated unless it was stored in the refrigerator. My husband had white bread, Jiff Peanut Butter, and Welch’s Concord Grape Jelly. A younger version of me would have been insanely jealous of this, but these days, I follow my parent’s example and try to keep my food as preservative free, and homemade, as possible. This recipe produces an enriched, golden, loaf of soft sandwich bread. It is the perfect foil for lovers of white supermarket sliced bread – particularly children - that you’re hoping to convert to handmade bread with a minimum of neophobia, or complaints.
While it’s true, nothing can replace the uncomplicated memories of your childhood; this bread just might make a better PB& J than Wonder.
Enriched White Bread
Yield: .5 kg [1 lb] loaves
2 – 21.5cm x 11.5cm [8.5” x 4.5”] loaf pans, orbital stand mixer with a paddle attachment and a dough hook, 1 large 6L [6.5qt] heatproof bowl, silicone basting brush, bench scraper, flexible bowl scraper, plastic wrap, small silicone spatula, 2 - 46cm x 30cm [18”x12“] half sheet pan, 500ml [2 cup] capacity measuring cup with a pouring spout, minimum 60ml [¼ cup] capacity microwave safe bowl or stove top butter warmer
610g unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting ~4 ¾ cups
9g fine grade sea salt ~1 ½ tsp
40g powdered non-fat milk ~¼ cup
47g granulated sugar ~3 ¼ tbsp
7g instant yeast ~2 tsp
53g eggs slightly beaten [at room temperature] ~1 large egg
50g unsalted butter, melted and cooled ~3 ¼ tbsp
394g water [at room temperature] 400ml ~1 ½ cups + 1 tbsp
-unsalted butter for pans [at room temperature] ~2 – 3 tbsp
-canola oil for fermentation bowl and plastic wrap ~2 – 3 tbsp
-water to assist “oven spring” ~250ml or 1cup
Mise en Place:
Weigh flour, sugar, powdered milk, salt, sugar, and yeast into the work bowl of the stand mixer making sure to place the salt on one side of the bowl, and the yeast on the other.
Lightly beat the egg and water together and set aside.
Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly.
Fit the paddle attachment onto the rotation post of the mixer.
Oil the large heatproof bowl with the basting brush or your fingers, and set aside until needed.
Liberally butter the bottom and sides of the loaf pans and place together on the sheet pan. Set aside until needed.
Place one of the sheet pans on the lower rack of the oven, and adjust one rack to the center position above it.
On low speed, mix all the dry ingredients using the paddle attachment. With the mixer running slowly add the water and egg, followed by the melted butter. Continue to mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the dough begins to form a ball.
Stop the mixer and using the silicone spatula scrape the down from the paddle and remove. The dough will be quite sticky at this stage.
Lock the dough hook into place and begin kneading the dough on medium speed. Knead for approximately 6 – 8 minutes. When finished the dough should have a tacky but not sticky texture. Add small amounts of flour or water, if needed, to achieve this texture.
Using the bowl scraper, remove the dough from the work bowl and transfer to the oiled heatproof bowl. Turn the dough in the oil and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to ferment for 60 - 90 minutes, or until tripled in volume.
When done, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. This will be sufficient to deflate the dough and it should appear slack and hold the indentation when poked with a finger. Resist the urge to violently punch the dough down as some recipes require, it isn’t necessary here.
Being careful to keep as much of the volume in the dough as possible, divide the dough and gently shape into two balls. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow these to rest on the counter for 20 minutes.
To shape the dough for the pans, press flat with your hands, and gently alternate pressing and pulling it into approximately a 20cm x 30cm [8”x12”] rectangle. Break any obviously large air bubbles you find, but you don’t need roll it flat either. The dough will be elastic, and resist shaping, be patient and cover the dough and allow it to rest if it becomes too stubborn. Starting closest to your body, roll and pinch into a cylinder, and pinch the edges closed. Tuck the ends underneath the cylinder to form a loaf.
Transfer to prepared pans and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature for 60 – 90 minutes until loaves have more than doubled in size, and are beginning to crest the edges of the pans.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC [350ºF] during the last 30 minutes of the bench proof stage.
Remove plastic wrap and slash loaves with a lame or sharp knife to allow for oven spring.
Immediately before placing the loaves in the oven, pour 250ml [1cup] water onto the preheated sheet pan. This will create steam and assist with oven spring – the bread rising in the oven – in the first stage of baking.
Bake loaves for 35 – 40 minutes. They should appear golden brown and sound hollow when gently thumped with your fingers. The internal temperature should read 88ºC [190ºF]
Remove from pans immediately and allow to cool for one hour before slicing. For best results cool completely.
Wrapped loaves will store on the counter for up to two or three days, or double wrap in plastic wrap and tinfoil and freeze for up to one month.
When I’m trying to get ahead, I usually figure on one loaf of bread/per adult/per week. If I had teenaged boys I might double that. This recipe can also be shaped into 18 - 57g [2ounce] rolls*, or 12 – 85g [3ounce] hamburger buns*, and reheated directly from the freezer whenever they are needed.
*After bench proofing, bake rolls and buns at 200ºC [400ºF] for approximately 15 minutes.