The COVID-19 pandemic uprooted life as we knew it in 2020, all of us were confined to the walls of our homes. Essential commodities and groceries were at risk of being unavailable in stores. During this time, many people across the world dabbled into bread-making. The empty shelves in supermarkets where bread once sat drove people to make bread at home. While banana bread and sourdough bread might have been the top contenders, the humble white sandwich bread was not too far behind either. Many, including myself, took to making sandwich bread at home.
I loved making my own bread so much that it wasn’t until November or December 2020 that my family purchased bread from the stores.
The first sandwich bread loaf I made was a recipe I saw on Joshua Weissman’s YouTube channel. It’s a brilliant recipe, but soon enough, I wanted to develop a sandwich bread recipe of my own.
This post contains my recipe for the simplest homemade loaf of sandwich bread. It’s soft, supple, and incredibly delicious. It’s an easy, straightforward recipe that’s perfect even for beginners. This sandwich bread doesn’t have a very complex flavor, and it acts as an ideal canvas for whatever you want to make with it.
What goes into this sandwich bread loaf?
The most crucial component in any bread is the leavening agent, that’s what makes bread airy and light. Leavening or rising agents are usually the following five; yeast, baking soda, baking powder, eggs, and steam. When it comes to bread, yeast is the most commonly used leavener.
Packaged yeast is again of two common types, instant, and active-dry. The active-dry yeast is the one we will be using for the sandwich bread loaf. Active-dry yeast requires activation before it’s added to the flour, whereas the instant yeast doesn’t. Yeast is activated when it comes in contact with liquid and sugars; this makes the yeast release carbon dioxide bubbles, which allow it to rise the dough.
To activate the yeast in this recipe, we will be using milk and granulated sugar. When the yeast is activated, the mixture will look bubbly and foamy on top.
Usually, bread dough calls for water to hydrate the dough. But I use milk for my recipe because it allows the dough to be super soft and supple. We will also be using a little bit of butter to make the dough soft and spongy apart from the milk.
Lastly, we will obviously need flour and some salt. I’ll be using all-purpose flour because it gives the bread an excellent elasticity and texture. You can use a blend of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour, but it will take a little longer to rise.
How to make this sandwich bread loaf?
The very first step is forming and kneading the dough. Kneading strengthens the dough’s gluten structure, allowing it to hold its shape and create an elastic dough.
This particular dough isn’t sticky, so you can get in there with your hands and feel the dough every step of the way. I find kneading with my hands extremely therapeutic. Moreover, when you feel the dough with your hands, you can tell when it’s ready much better than you can with a machine.
The kneaded dough is left to rise for roughly an hour or until it’s doubled in size. The dough’s ideal environment to rise should be warm. But I realize that it’s winter in most parts of the world, and leaving the dough on the kitchen counter might not be the best environment for it to rise. Luckily, there’s a hack for it. To create a warm environment for your dough, turn on the oven light and place the dough in your oven with the door cracked open a little. This creates a beautiful warm surrounding for the dough, and it rises without any hassle.
Now comes the crucial part of shaping the dough. For this recipe, I use a shaping method similar to the one used for the fluffy Japanese bread — Shokupan. I like to divide my dough into four portions, flatten them out into rectangles and roll them into small, tight logs, which are then snugly placed into the loaf tin.
This is arguably easier than rolling the entire dough into a big log, which can fall apart if you’re not very experienced with bread. Plus, it allows you to tear apart and portion the bread when it’s time to eat!
What equipment do I need to make this sandwich bread loaf?
The equipment needed for this recipe is very little. You will need two mixing bowls and a larger bowl in which the dough will rise. You’ll also need a wire whisk and a rubber spatula.
You will also need a 9x5 inch loaf tin to bake the bread.
I suggest kneading the dough with your hands as it’s not very sticky and can easily be managed. You can knead the dough with a hand mixer with a hook attachment if you still wish to.
Recipe For The Simplest Sandwich Bread Loaf
Yields: 560 grams loaf
Time: 2 ½ hours
220 grams (1 cup) lukewarm milk
8 grams (2 teaspoons) active-dry yeast
8 grams (2 teaspoons) granulated sugar
300 grams (2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
2 grams (½ teaspoon) salt
12 grams (¾ tablespoon) softened butter
Add the sugar and yeast to the milk and mix it in. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it’s foamy on top.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the flour and salt together.
Slowly pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture while mixing with a rubber spatula.
Once you have a cohesive mass of dough, knead with your hands for a bit.
When you have a rough lump of dough, incorporate the butter into it.
Continue kneading with your hands for 3 minutes until you have a soft and smooth dough.
Shape the dough into a ball, transfer it to a large oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a lid if you’re rising the dough in a container.
Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.
Generously grease a 9x5 inch loaf tin with butter.
Punch down the risen dough lightly and divide it into four equal pieces, weighing 136 grams each.
Form the pieces into balls and gently flatten them out into 2½ x 5-inch rectangular sheets with your fingers.
Tightly roll each sheet into a log from the shorter side of the rectangle.
Place the four logs snugly in the greased loaf tin.
Cover the tin with plastic wrap.
Proof the dough for 20 minutes in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Bake the bread for 20-25 minutes at 200°C until it’s golden brown on top.
Let the bread sit in the loaf tin for 10 minutes, and then remove it onto a cooling rack.
Allow the bread to cool completely for an hour or two before slicing it.
The bread dough in this recipe is super versatile, and it also works if you wish to make fluffy buns, cinnamon rolls, or even babka!