An all-pupose white sandwich bread. Recipe largely taken from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day.
- ~5 3/4 cups bread flour
- 1 tbsp yeast (active dry yeast is used here)
- ~2 1/2 cups liquid (see flavorings)
- 1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp milk (part of the liquid)
- 2 tsp salt
- 5 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 large egg (part of the liquid)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp vegetable oil (part of the liquid)
Warm the milk in the microwave. Exact temperature isn't important, as long as it's below about 130 °F (or you'll kill the yeast prematurely). Add the yeast to the warm milk and stir. It might not all dissolve, and that's fine. Set this aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the oil and egg, but don't bother to stir them in until you've got the rest of the liquid in.
Check on the milk-yeast mixture. It should look a little frothy on top. Assuming it does, dump that into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
Stir with a wooden spoon to combine everything. Once the dough gets too difficult to stir, you'll need to use your hands. I like dipping my hands in the bag of flour before going in. Knead the dough by folding it over, pressing downward, turning everything 1/4 turn, and repeating. Once the dough starts getting sticky, re-flour your hands. Knead like this for a few minutes, or until you can knead for a bit without flouring your hands.
Cover the bowl + dough with plastic and stick it in the fridge. You'll want a reasonably good seal so the dough doesn't dry out, but you'll also want to let the air escape as the dough rises. It will rise on its residual heat and then the yeast will go dormant once the dough gets down to refrigerator temperatures. Leave it in the fridge at least overnight, and up to a few days.
When you're ready to bake, get out two loaf pans and grease them thoroughly. Get the dough out of the fridge. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a cutting board. It will probably have stuck to the sides of the bowl. That's fine; use your fingers to scrape it off and add it to the rest of the dough. Knead the dough a few times to incorporate the scraps and form it into a ball.
Cut the ball in half with a sharp knife. You'll want to primarily drag the knife across and not so much push down. It will take several slices.
For each half of the ball, stretch it into a rectangle that's as long as the loaf pan and about the width of your palm. You might need to let it rest for a minute while you're stretching it. After shaping it into a rectangle, roll the dough along the short axis so you end up with a log as long as the loaf pan. Put each log in a loaf pan seam side down. Cover with a wet towel and let rise for about 3 hours, or until the dough is just poking up above the tops of the loaf pans.
When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 °F. Make a slice along the top of each piece of dough. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate 180°, and bake another 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least an hour before slicing. Let cool to room temperature before putting in a plastic bag for storage. If the bread is too hot when it goes into plastic, the water vapor it releases will collect on the inside of the bag and speed up mold growth.