I can't believe I've never posted this recipe before! I make this particular bread recipe almost weekly, and its softness is almost that of a storebought loaf with WAAAY better flavor, texture, and health. It can be made in an afternoon, and every time I've made it (which is too many to count), it's come out great.
This recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour (KAF) website, a wonderful resource for bakers. There are so many quality recipes, and thankfully, most of them do not require the use of KAF or its special products.
As with any bread recipe, take a deep breath, relax, and follow the instructions, and you should be rewarded with a very inviting, tantalizing smell along with a perfect loaf of bread. As with all baking recipes, weighing the ingredients produces the most accurate results, but I think I measure on this loaf. I also substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour for all purpose so that it's a little healthier. It's still our favorite bread!
Our Favorite Sandwich Bread
from King Arthur Flour
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick, 1 ounce) butter or margarine
2 teaspoons instant yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
*For added whole-grain goodness, substitute great-tasting King Arthur whole wheat flour (traditional or white whole wheat) for up to half of the all-purpose flour in this recipe.
Mixing: Heat the milk to a simmer, and pour over the butter in a large mixing bowl. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm, then add yeast (if using active dry; if using instant yeast you can add it with the flour) and sugar. Once the yeast softens and begins to bubble, add the remaining ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine set to the dough or manual cycle). Add a bit of additional milk or flour if needed— the dough should be soft, but not sticky.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in the lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 60 minutes, until it’s domed about 1 inch above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.
Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s light golden brown.Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or by measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf). Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
Yield: 1 loaf.
- I use instant yeast that I buy in bulk, so I do not heat the milk and I don't proof the yeast. I seriously just pour everything into the bowl of my stand mixer and mix with the paddle until the dough comes together. I then switch to the dough hook and let it do the kneading for me.