Friday, February 25, 2011

American Sandwich Bread

The last sandwich bread loaf I made was great, but it left me still searching for a recipe that results in a soft, tender bread that my kids would gladly eat for their pb&j.  It was much better for french toast.  I should have known my America's Test Kitchen wouldn't let me down.  This was spot on!  It had more flavor than store bought bread, but had the same soft texture as the whole wheat bread I usually buy.  This will definitely be a recipe I turn to week after week.

The America's Test Kitchen - Family Baking Book
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for brushing
3 tablespoons honey
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ toasted in a dry skillet about 5 minutes
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt

Measure the milk and water into a large measuring cup.  Warm in microwave until 110 degrees.  Whisk in the butter and honey.  Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook.  With the mixer on low speed, add the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, abut 2 minutes.

Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  If after 4 minutes more flour is needed, add 2 tablespoons bread flour at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball.  Spray mixer bowl lightly, put dough ball in, and cover with greased plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press into a 9-inch square.  Roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam closed.  Place the loaf, seam side down, in the prepared pan.  Mist the loaf with vegetable oil spray, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size and the dough barely springs back when poked with a knuckle, 45 to 75 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Brush lightly with melted butter, then spray lightly with water.  Bake until golden and the center registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 40 to 50 minutes.  Rotate the loaf halfway through baking.  Cool the loaf in the pan for 15 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours before serving.

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