Monday, July 4, 2011

And the Loaf is Declared Delicious

In my last post, I spent a good deal of time singing the praises of a new hamburger bun recipe that I had tried out from King Arthur Flour.  In the very same post, I pledged to try to make this into a sliceable sandwich loaf and report back on the experiment.  I'm happy to say that it was a great success!

The bread came out tender and soft, just as you'd expect from a great sandwich bread.  It slices nicely into sandwich-width pieces, and it keeps exceptionally well for a home-made bread without dough conditioners and shelf-life extenders.

Unfortunately, I didn't write down how long it took me to bake the loaf, which is more or less the only recipe alteration I had.  Until I bake it again and write down that small yet significant detail, I'll leave you with instructions for checking it with an instant-read thermometer--which works, by the way, because you're looking for just about the point where the water hasn't yet become steam and wafted away from your loaf to leave it dry.  Since we know water boils (and turns to steam) at 212, keeping it around 190 is a good target point (it'll have some carry-over cooking that'll coast it up closer to 200).

My New Favorite Sandwich Bread
  1. Spray a standard loaf pan with nonstick spray or coat lightly with vegetable oil or butter
  2. Mix the dough as directed in the original hamburger bun recipe and continue following the directions through the first rise.
  3. Instead of shaping the dough into buns, pat the dough out into a rectangle roughly the length of the pan.  Roll the dough jelly-roll style and pinch the seam closed.  Turn seam-side down and tuck the ends over, pinching to the bottom as well.
  4. Place the loaf into the pan seam-side down and use your fingers to tuck and push it so that it looks even all the way around.
  5. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until the center of the dough is 3/4 to 1 inch over the top of the pan, about 45-60 minutes depending on the room temperature.
  6. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap and bake the loaf about 20-25 minutes.  After about 25 minutes, start checking the internal temperature by placing a probe thermometer into the side of the loaf (do this sparingly so you release as little steam from inside the loaf as possible and don't end-up with a swiss cheese appearance).
  7. Once the bread hits 190-195 degrees internal temperature, remove it from the oven and brush with the reserved butter (this makes the crust soft instead of "crusty").
  8. Allow to cool 5 minutes and remove from the pan.  Optionally, brush more butter over the sides of the loaf that touched the pan.
Helpful Tips
  • If you find that the bread is browning too fast, lower the oven temp to 350.
  • While the bread keeps fairly well in a large zip-top bag, you'll have best results if eaten within 2-3 days.  Since this is impractical for most people, I like to slice the whole loaf and wrap half of it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it.  To use, just allow it to thaw on the counter or toast-up the frozen slices.
  • We also store our bread in the fridge during the summer, a usual no-no, but I find it helps it keep longer.  Eating it at room temp helps as the butter tends to make it firmer when chilled.
  • This bread makes AMAZING toast with just plain 'ole butter or some homemade jam.
  • I find that the recipe calls for too much water.  Use the smaller amount listed and add some if it really doesn't seem to be coming together.
  • If it gets too sticky to work with or sticks to the bottom of the mixer bowl (you probably used all the water), add more flour--you can add up to a cup without ruining the batch.
  • I realized quite recently that Whole Foods carries SAF Yeast in a one-pound package for about $5.95.  If you do the math, it's way cheaper to buy yeast this way as opposed to the little yellow packets, even if you end-up tossing half the package because it goes bad.  I store mine in a 32oz jar in the refrigerator or freezer so it'll last as long as possible.  2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast equals one packet.

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