Thursday, March 3, 2011

White Loaf Bread


Let’s be honest: white bread gets a bad rap. Utter the word ‘white bread’ and our thoughts drift towards processed, flimsy slices of sad little loaves sitting in their plastic bag on the grocery store shelf. Commercial bread absent of whole grains and – most importantly – taste.

But try resisting the urge to plunge your knife into a homemade loaf of white bread, just plucked from the warm oven. You suddenly have the control over just how thick you want the slices for your gooey grilled cheese sandwich or morning slice of toast, smothered with sweet cream butter and fruit preserves. There is a certain pleasure obtained by enjoying a thick, homemade slice of white bread; an enjoyment unable to be replicated by the loaves that have for so long blinded us to how white bread really should taste.


White Loaf Bread
adapted from Baking with Julia
makes 1 loaf

This easy recipe redefines how we should think of white bread. This makes a hearty grilled cheese sandwich and is especially delicious in morning, toasted and smeared with butter and fruit preserves.

3½ cups bread flour, divided
12 ounces warm water, 105°F to 115°F
1½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon SAF Instant Yeast
1½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Preparation Instructions
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 1¾ cups bread flour, water, sugar, and instant yeast. Turn the mixer on and off a few times, just until ingredients incorporate, and then, mixing on low speed, add remaining 1¾ cups bread flour. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat, stopping to scrape down the bowl and hook as needed, until the dough comes together. (If the dough does not come together, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time.) Add the salt and continue to beat and knead at medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. When the dough is thoroughly mixed, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until incorporated. If the dough comes apart with the addition of the butter, continue to beat and the dough will come back together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, knead a few times, and then shape it into a ball. Place it in a large buttered bowl. Turn the dough around to cover its entire surface with better, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

Butter a loaf pan and set aside.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using the palms of your hands and fingertips, pat the dough into a large rectangle about 9 inches wide and 12 inches long, with a short side facing you. Starting at the top, fold the dough about two-thirds of the way down the rectangle and then fold it again. Seal the seam by pinching it. Turn the roll so that the seam is in the center of the roll, facing up, and turn the ends of the roll in just enough so that it will fit snugly in the buttered loaf pan. Pinch the seams to seal, turn the loaf over so that the seams are on the bottom, and plump the loaf with your palms to get an even shape. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan, seam side down.

Cover the loaf with oiled plastic wrap, and allow them to rise in a warm place until doubled in size again, growing over the top of the pan, about 45 minutes. While the loaf rises, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.

When the loaf is fully risen (poke your finger into the dough; the impression should remain), bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until they are honey-brown and an instant-read thermometer plunged into the center of the bread (turn the loaf out and insert the thermometer through the bottom of the bread) measures 200°F. Remove the loaf from the pan as soon removed from the oven and cool the loaf on a wire rack. Allow to cool before cutting.

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