Sandwich Bread

After I posted about my grilled cheese sandwiches, a couple of friends asked me about my bread recipe because homemade bread doesn't always make great sandwich bread.  The recipe I used was the plain old "Basic White Bread Recipe" that you can find in most bread cookbooks.  They're usually pretty much the same - I found one similar to mine here.

And in fact, my bread was a little crumbly for sandwiches - even though it was great bread.  Which got me wondering - how do you make great sandwich bread?  A good sandwich bread should be soft, not crumbly or dense, and strong and flexible enough to support it's filling.  This week, I made the recipe three more times, after reviewing some good bread resources (see below).  Here are the three most important things I found for making your homemade bread a little less rustic, and more sandwich worthy:

1.  Give it time. Let the dough rest for a couple minutes before kneading.  This gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid and prepares the gluten for kneading.  And then, be sure to give the dough plenty of time to double in size during the first rise.  Don't just go based on time.

2.  Knead until the dough is flexible enough that it springs back when you poke it.  Sometimes I stop when it looks smooth, but this can make it crumbly.  When in doubt, knead a little more.  You are more likely to under knead, than overknead. 

3.  Use bread flour or hard wheat.  I usually use half white and half wheat for a plain loaf like this, but I found swapping the white out for bread flour made a much nicer sandwich slice.

All three of these tips acheive the same goal - enabling the gluten to really develop makes a soft flexible bread.  My third batch made the best sandwich bread I've ever made, even getting the toddler-peanut-butter-sandwich seal of approval.  I've been enjoying the reading and baking so much, I think I'm seeing a lot more bread in the near future.  I think Julia's French Bread is next...


Beard on Bread, and Julia Child's chapter on yeast bread's are great resources.  And they are both illustrated beautifully.  Seriously, can I illustrate a bread book, please? 


erin said...

Good tips! I confess I"m one of those "but the recipe said 10 minutes" kind of people. I should just go with what the dough is doing. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I use the various sandwich bread recipes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and they have all worked beautifully.