Wonder Bread. Sunbeam. Pepperidge Farm. Nature’s Own. Sara Lee. Arnold. These breads have graced the American lunchbox as long as we can remember. We definitely have a love-hate relationship with plain white American sandwich bread. It is both culturally significant and shunned for its “plastic, corporate, and stale” character (Burnham, 2015). Ouch! And yet, it can be used to make both humble and “fancy” dishes right at home.
Grilled cheese. Toast with jam. Peanut butter and jelly. French toast. Turkey cranberry sandwiches. Croutons. Texas toast. The possibilities are endless. If you do not have the luxury of time for baking sourdough, try baking plain white sandwich bread instead. It is more forgiving and still toast-able and delectably soft.
This white sandwich bread recipe is an update to my original “Soft White Bread” for beginners. It is just as easy to make and everything has been improved from the taste to the texture. Soft enough to keep the crust, super fluffy and airy, and buttery and slightly sweet. It can be evenly sliced with a sharp serrated knife ― which I highly recommend, especially if you plan on cutting it soon after it leaves the oven.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Easy to make
- 7 Ingredients
- Uses instant yeast; no need to test it for activity
- Super soft texture
- Buttery crumb
- Can be frozen
- Sliceable for sandwiches.
- Can be made in advanced for weekly lunches
Why is American white bread so iconic? It all began in the 1920s when white bread became a symbol of modern life and industrialization (Burnham, 2015). The white flour used to make bread had always been associated with prestige, cleanliness, health, and even moral purity (Pollan, 2013). Industrialization not only brought this symbolic flour to the general public, but it also made white bread easier and cheaper to produce (Pollan, 2013). This mass produced flour was shelf stable and could supply entire nations whereas whole wheat flour could go rancid within weeks of milling (Pollan).
Companies such as Tip Top and Wonder Bread “brought factory automation to bread-making”, which also included the invention and marketing of sliced bread (Burnham, 2015). Sliced bread became chic, modern, and exclusive.
Despite white bread’s increased status, some problems began to manifest. Mass production of white flour and white breads changed the dynamic of how and what type of wheat was grown and processed to meet industrial needs. This decreased the availability of wheat varieties, removed nearly all nutritional content, and forced the closures of local stone mills that provided for small towns (Pollan, 2013). Chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes increased within populations due to nutritional deficiencies; in fact, a backlash over white bread began within the same decade it became popular, with another insurgence occurring in the 1960s (Burnham, 2015). A partial solution was made to put the missing nutrients back into white flour, but it also resulted in processing the bread further so that the capital infrastructure did not have to change (Pollan, 2013).
Even with the rising popularity of whole wheat grains and breads, white bread is still quite popular. This is because white bread is easier to bake with predictable results and a wonderful flavor. Whether baked at home or bought in a supermarket, white bread is more economical with some dishes even tasting better with white bread versus wheat bread (Burnham, 2015).
MORE RECIPES LIKE THIS
Make Your Own Sourdough Starter
At Home Soft White Bread Real Homemade Butter
TAG US! Let us know if you try it! Comment and rate! We love seeing your dishes, so tag your photo with #homestylealchemy on Instagram!
7×4 loaf pan – This is the standard sized pan used for making a loaf of bread.
bread lame or serrated knife – Used for scoring a line down the center of the bread. This helps the yeast expand and prevents cracking in the bread.
optional: scale – A scale is not necessary, however, it makes your measurements more accurate, promising consistent results. A scale minimizes cleanup and makes cooking and baking easier.
White Sandwich Bread
- 4 cups (500g) bread flour
- 1 ¼ cup (250ml) water
- 1 tbsp (15ml) honey
- 1 tbsp (15g) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp (10g) sea salt
- 1 tsp (5g) instant yeast
- 1 tbsp butter for brushing
If mixing by hand
Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Use a spatula to mix the dough until it comes together into a mound. You can continue using the spatula, or switch to your hands to continue kneading the dough. Use extra olive oil or cooking spray to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.
If mixing with a stand mixer
Alternatively, place all of the ingredients into a stand mixer with a hook attachment or into a bread machine set on the “dough” setting. When using a stand mixer, knead the dough until it becomes stretchy and peels easily from the sides of the bowl.
If using a bread machine
You can leave the dough to mix on its own and wait until it is ready.
Let the dough rise
If using a bread machine, you can skip this step. Otherwise, generously grease a separate and clean large mixing bowl with the olive oil. Grease your hands with the olive oil and shape the dough into a ball. Place the dough ball into the greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rise for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature until it has tripled in size. For the best flavor, set it rise in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours, checking half way through to punch down the dough in case it overflows.
Shape the dough
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175C).
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and shape it into a log with the seams facing downward.
Generously grease a 7×4 baking pan with cooking spray. Place the dough into the pan with the seam side facing downward. Spray the top of the bread with additional cooking spray and loosely cover the bread with plastic wrap.
Allow the bread to rise for 1 to 2 hours or until it has tripled in size.
Lightly coat the top of the proofed bread with flour. With a bread lame or a sharp knife, score a line vertically from the top to the bottom of the bread. The line should be 3/4 inches deep.
Bake the bread
Bake the bread in the oven for 30 minutes.
The bread is finished when the top feels hollow when tapped and the crust is light brown. Dust off the additional flour and brush the melted butter over the crust. Allow the bread to cool for at least 10 minutes.
Carefully release the bread from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a cooling rack.
The bread can be easily sliced with a serrated bread knife. Serve with your favorite lunch meats, jams, or butters!
- If you find that your dough is dry, you can add more water a teaspoon at a time.
- This bread is shelf stable for 2 to 3 days.
REFERENCES (APA STYLE)
Burnham, T., (2015). The History of American White Bread is Anything But Bland. The Salt: What’s On Your Plate. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/03/454316172/why-the-history-of-american-white-bread-is-anything-but-bland Pollan, M., (2013). Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. Penguin Books.
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