Welp, I have done the impossible. I have achieved sandwich bread perfection.
Through trial and error, through rises and falls, through … four weeks of maternity leave, I have finally made the perfect sandwich bread. It’s a partial white/wheat/oat concoction that can withstand the abuse of the new or nursing mother:
This bread can can hold itself together under the pressure of an ungodly amount of sandwich meat with the support of only one hand. No crumblies. Even after the third or fourth day, this bread keeps its shape and tastiness–assuming it makes it that long. We heart our carbs out here in the hinterlands. They burn hot in the gut on lonely rural nights.
I’d like to thank all who helped me along the narrow and rocky path of sandwich bread success, including master bread-maker Michael Padula, for the tip about increasing the oil from 2 tbs. to a full quarter-cup.
That, along with the reduced rising time, finally created the winning loaf.
Here is the method, for those who think that only suckers buy their own bread when 25-lbs. bags of bread flour cost something like $13 and hearty homemade bread can be its own meal:
4 c bread flour
1 to 1-1/2 c wheat flour
1/2 c oats
2 tbs. yeast
2-4 tbs. sugar (we go full-on 4 tbs. for that Amish buffet roll flavor)
1 1/2 tbs salt
2 c hot water (warm if you are proofing, hot if you are mixing yeast in with dry ingredients)
1/4 c oil
- mix dry ingredients, including yeast (be sure to ‘proof’ yeast separately if you’re not using instant)
- mix in hot water and oil for 5 minutes and check consistency. you want it to be wet, but you don’t want it impossible to knead because it is sticking to your hands. Better to err on the side of too wet, in my experience.
-that’s what she said
- knead 8 to 10 minutes (this subs in for an upper arm workout, in case you’re cutting out luxuries like gym membership fees) I like to spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and beat the crap out of the dough right there on the counter. Molly ‘helps.’
- separate dough into two loaves and let rise until doubled in size — no more than 30 minutes. 20 minutes is the zen for me.
- punch down dough and rework. i’ve found success by not kneading very much at all before second rise. some people just put the dough in the oven and go with it after the first rise, but a second rise works best for me.
- let it rise for not very long at all. put it in the oven almost immediately. I just let the oven heat up to 350 while the bread is in there rising. I let it bake for 25 minutes.
- consume 2 loaves of bread in one night. one-handed. it’s ok. you’ve earned it.
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