The BBA breads are pretty awesome, but they are time consuming. Most of them require starting the evening before baking, and a number of steps along the way. But when Ferrett and I were snowed in last week, and out of bread to just make a sandwich, I decided to try the Easy Sandwich Bread recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. It promised bread in two hours, and by gum if it didn’t deliver. It also suggested that the loaf was really best if eaten that day, and I have to say that we managed to accomplish that task rather nicely. It’s not a bread that is going to wow you with its flavor profile, because the quick rise doesn’t give a chance for much flavor development. But it makes great toast and is terrific for sandwiches.
So, for everyone who is intimidated by bread, I am going to give you the step-by-step of making this quick and simple bread. The recipe does require a stand mixer with a paddle attachment; I don’t know if it would hold up to an old-fashioned, beater style mixer. I checked into the copyright rules, and I am allowed to reprint the list of ingredients, but must write the instructions myself. So here we go:
Easy Sandwich Bread
- 2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour
- 6 tablespoons (2 ounces) whole-wheat flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water (120 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (the original calls for melted, unsalted butter)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water and pinch salt
Whisk the flours and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add the 1 1/4 cup warm water, olive oil, and honey. Using the paddle – not dough hook – attachment on your mixer, beat this on low for a minute.The dough should be pretty wet, so if it’s balling up nicely, add another couple ounces of water. Then continue beating on medium for two full minutes. It should look like this when you are done:
Remove the paddle attachment from the mixer so that you don’t have to try and get dough off of it. Leaving the paddle in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and set it someplace warm to rise for 20-25 minutes, or until doubled:
Turn your oven on at 375F, and make sure your rack is in the middle. Reattach the paddle to the mixer and the bowl to the stand (probably the trickiest part of the whole operation). Dissolve the salt into two tablespoons of warm water, then add to the bowl. Mix for 40 seconds to partially incorporate the salt water (adding fluid at this point in any bread is going to look gloppy and soupy), then on medium for another minute. This is going to look more like a batter than a bread dough, which is why it can’t be hand kneaded:
(Yes, it’s a little out-of-focus. You know how hard it is to manipulate the bowl AND the camera?!)
Use a greased rubber spatula to scrape the last of the dough from the bowl and to smooth the dough evenly in the pan.
Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray and allow to rise for 15 minutes or to half an inch below the lip of the pan. Then uncover and allow to rise another 5-10 minutes, or until the center is level with the lip of the pan.