The perfect soft white sandwich bread

Hello? Is anybody there? Does anybody still care that I’m baking?

Do I?

A valid question since it’s been, oh, one month less two days since my last baking endeavour out of this book. I specify “out of this book” because I did do some extra baking that wasn’t in this book around Christmas. But those didn’t warrant a blog post and wouldn’t have fit into the theme anyway.

And then the last two weeks I’ve been out of the game due to catching the cold bug that everyone and their dog seems to be getting. (That wasn’t an exaggeration. There’s also a dog influenza going around.)

So that brings us to the third week of January and I’m finally feeling as though this is an option again.

And so it must be, otherwise I’ll have given up on yet another creative adventure. (I really do that much too often.) So I apologize for the unplanned hiatus or, if you quite enjoyed not reading these, you’re welcome for the unplanned hiatus!

Although if you don’t like reading these, why are you reading these? Please stop and go do something you actually enjoy.

Now, back to baking, if I remember how to bake, (which honestly I was a little afraid of), but I assume it’s like riding a bike (even though I can’t ride a bike).

Enter: sandwich bread

Not sure how the sandwich bread entered. Perhaps on little sandwich feet. Clad in little roll shoes. I’ve lost my train of thought.

Oh right, baking.

So I’ve been wanting to do a bread for a while, but since I usually do these after work, the rising time required hasn’t exactly made bread an option. I bought poppy seeds ages ago to tackle the poppyseed white bloomer recipe (whatever that is) but since that has an initial rising time of at least four hours, that wasn’t going to happen on a weekday.

So then I figured I’d go with a simpler recipe (or so it would seem) and go for the perfect soft white sandwich bread. The only problem is it calls for milk and I never have milk in the house.

I say this knowing full well I live a five-minute drive from a grocery store, but every time I thought about making this recipe I always thought I could just whip it up, but alas no milk, so then I’d tell myself, “Next time,” and inevitably forget.

So this time I made a point to pick up regular ol’ milk from a cow (even though I don’t really drink regular ol’ milk from a cow) and hope that I picked up enough to use in this recipe (though not too much that I’d have to pour it down the sink in a week).

I realize I’m using a lot more parentheses this time around (not that anyone other than myself would care).

Right. Back to baking. Sorry for the tangents.

A couple things right off the bat, Mary and Paul. Firstly, you want me to have melted-but-not-hot butter, which is a very odd thing because as the butter cools in my chilly home, there’s a good chance of congealing.

Also you call for one teaspoon of golden syrup, something I do not have and didn’t think to pick up on the way home. So I’m using half a teaspoon of corn syrup and if that’s terrible and will ruin everything, I apologize.

I don’t apologize to anyone in particular, though, because I’ll be keeping this bread to myself.

Side note: At first I was going to do the mixing all by hand, but then getting the consistency right just seemed like a better thing to do with the dough hook on the KitchenAid, so I caved.

Thirdly (did I get to a thirdly?), 500 grams of flour is a lot of flour. So much so that I’ve almost emptied my cute Korken jar, so thank you for that.

I’d just like to preface what could end up as a disaster by saying that I had a very mentally draining work day and there’s a good chance that will affect some of my decisions.

One of which was putting my finger in a small pot of milk on the stove to see if it was lukewarm. It’s all fine, I didn’t burn my finger, but I did do it a little too quickly and with a little too little thought. And then I licked said finger and minutes later dunked it in again, making it clear that this bread recipe would be mine and mine alone.

No sense in sharing my contaminated germs with those around me. Let’s hope this bread is good!

Now, to add the lukewarm milk (whatever that means) in to the well in the flour and mix until it makes ” a soft dough” (whatever that means).

Can you see the issues I’m dealing with with this KitchenAid? It all goes to the side. I know Mary and Paul want me to do the soft-dough mix on a low setting, but I had to speed it up a couple of times to get the flour incorporated.

It worked a little bit.

Now to test if it’s too dry or too wet.

Yeah I think this may be too wet.

It’s hard to know when to add flour and when to stop adding flour. At what point does “too wet” become “too dry”? How fine is that line?

Does this look like soft dough? I don’t have the answers anymore.

Not that I ever did have the answers. I ask a lot of questions in a blog that isn’t really interactive.

Now, time to knead! Got the knead for speed. Got the need to knead? There’s a pun in there somewhere. Find it and comment below!*

*My attempt at interaction

Now, I’m going to go ahead and zone out because it’s time to knead and this I’m doing by hand. As mentioned, today was kind of rough, so kneading is the perfect antidote.

10 minutes later

I’ve kneaded by hand before and it’s usually a matter of trying not to acknowledge how physically exhausted it makes me while also counting down the minutes. These ten minutes, though, passed so quickly. Too quickly. It made me wonder if my timer was broken because I felt like I could go on. Clearly had some stuff to work out. I highly recommend falling into a bread-kneading trance if you’re ever feeling stressed. It works wonders!

How does this look? Silky smooth enough? That’s what Mar-Bear and Paulo wanted. “Silky smooth and very pliable.” I think that fits the bill.

Now to wait an hour.

Note to everyone including myself: this is what it looks like pre-rise:

One hour later

It doubled!

Now to punch it down, which is super satisfying. (Seriously, when feeling stressed, bake some bread!)

And then Mary and Paul want me to knead it “a couple of times” and press it out into a rectangle shape. Approximately 26 cm by 30 cm, which I thought would be easy, but this dang elastic dough pops back as soon as I stretch it out.

I think I got it close enough.

And then Mary and Paul want me to roll it “from the short end” and pinch and roll and pinch and roll. Here’s the thing though: I don’t know what “the short end” means. It’s like when you’re making a paper airplane and they tell you to fold it from the long edge or the short edge. I don’t know what that means. To accommodate the slightly longer Ikea loaf pan that I prepped, though, I decided to do it from the edge that’s longer than the other edge that’s shorter. Is that the short end? I think maybe not, unless it is. Unless an end is different from an edge. Whatever.

I pinched and rolled and then tucked the ends under and popped it in the pan.

Voila!

Now Mary and Paul want me to put the entire loaf tin in a plastic bag, puff it up and let the dough rise again for an hour. The only clean plastic bags I have, though, are garbage bags (unused ones of course). And that just seems odd to me. Also it’ll be hard to see if the dough doubled since my garbage bags are white.

But such is life!

So I wrapped it all up, puffed it up by blowing hot air into it and started to tie it only to read the instructions and realize I forgot to push it down to create a flat top.

That’s why this photo has a plastic bag beneath the tin:

Again, though, the elasticity combined with the heavily buttered tin means it didn’t exactly stick to the sides like it was presumably supposed to.

Such is life.

(Except none of this is really life. I’m not sure why I’ve said that twice now.)

And now we wait for another hour again, this time with what looks like a bag of garbage on my counter:

One hour later

Time to unwrap this bread!

Not bad, not bad. Now to wait another 15 minutes and then another 20 minutes after I lower the temperature.

So many steps, Mary and Paul. So many steps.

Thirteen minutes later

I just peeked at the bread in the oven, gasped and yelled, “BREAD!”

Some more minutes later

Well, well, well, I think this looks pretty good. I think it’s golden brown enough to warrant being done.

And I hope it’s done. Don’t want soggy bread. Don’t want dry bread. Mary and Paul say it needs to sound hollow when tapped, which I think it does.

Now to wait for it to cool. After I rub the top with butter to keep it soft, of course.

Totally wasn’t going to forget that step.

(Full disclosure: I almost forgot that step.)

It’s very difficult to wait for this bread to cool.

It cooled! And it’s delicious. So very soft. I mean really, truly no nutritional value and I don’t fully understand the Brits’ obsession with white toast, but dang this is good.

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