I love bread. Probably not as much as Oprah, but I love it. Years ago I wanted to learn how to bake my own bread and at first I found the recipes too time intensive and too complex. I wanted a bread that I could make and eat the same day and with as little prep as possible. Plus I didn’t want to use any weird ingredients, and I wanted it to be good for me.
I scoured the internet, my baking books, read a lot, and practiced so much. I had a lot of trial and error and many flops. But, out of all that, I created this recipe and I’ve used ever since. Over the years I’ve made hundreds of loaves using this recipe, and it’s never failed me. I’ve found that I can substitute ingredients like swapping some oat for wheat or wheat for bread flour and still have delicious results.
This is a cold start cooking method, which means that you don’t preheat your oven. I know. That goes against everything you’ve read about bread making. But, it works. How it works is all about the food science. Yeast dies at around 130F. Your oven starts out around the same temperature as your house. So, until the oven reaches 130F and that heat reaches the yeast, the dough will rise while it warms up. Once the yeast dies off the dough is risen to a beautiful domed sandwich loaf shape. Pretty cool right! After you’ve followed my recipe exactly the first few times you’ll get the feel for the dough consistency and the process. Then you can start to sub ingredients and you’ll find that you can have fresh bread as often as you want!
I’ve included two recipes on the recipe card that look about the same. When I bake I weigh my ingredients, because it’s precise and you get the same results every time. Measuring cups don’t measure precisely, because there’s so many variables that affect the actual amount in your measure. The humidity in the air adds or removes moisture from your flour, which affects the volume, how old your flour is and how long it’s been compacted in the bag/jar changes the measurement too. Also, how you scoop the flour changes the amount. The measurements can be wildly different and what you may think is a one cup measure could be nearly two cups depending on those variables. So many times people will bake a recipe and the consistency is off and then blame the recipe. But really the problem more than likely lies in how the ingredients were measured based on those variables. That’s why long time bakers and bakeries use a scale for measurements.
My friend James Schend, the editor for Taste of Home, has a great little video that shows the best way to measure your flour without a scale. Definitely give it a watch! The article is a quick read, but very informative and helpful.
One Hour Sandwich Bread
- 2 Bread pan I use the 10" Calphalon pans
- 2.75/400 cups/grams wheat flour (or any other wheat based flour)
- 0.3/40 cup/grams wheat gluten
- 1.5/27 tablespoons/grams instant dry yeast (about 2 of the packets)
- 2.5/590 cups/grams warm water (between 90-105°F)
- 1/15 tablespoon/grams kosher salt (table salt is finely ground and too much)
- 0.3/64 cup/grams canola or avocado oil (any neutral flavor oil works)
- 0.25/60 cup/grams sugar (I prefer brown sugar but granulated works)
- 1.5/22 tablespoons/grams lemon juice (It doesn't give the bread flavor, just reduces molding)
- 4/480 cups/grams bread flour (All purpose won't give you the same results)
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a heavy spoon, mix all ingredients from stage one in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl. Mix until fully combined. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Add in all ingredients from stage two and mix until fully combined. When I use a stand mixer I will mix with the paddle attachment for about 3 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Add in the bread flour from stage three. If using a stand mixer switch to a dough hook and use the dough setting to mix for 3-5 minutes. The dough should stick a little to the bottom of the bowl but pull away from the sides. If using a heavy spoon, mix until the flour is incorporated then remove from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. Try to not incorporate too much extra flour.
- Spray your bread pans with a little oil. Set aside.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Flatten your dough out into a square that is the same width as your bread pan. Starting on the edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight loaf. Place the shaped bread, seamside down, into the bread pan and repeat with the other loaf.
- Cover the bread pans with plastic wrap or a towel and allow to rest and rise for 20 minutes. This helps to avoid having the bread rip open while baking and it gives it a more rounded top. I like to spray the top of the dough with a little oil before covering, that is optional.
- Place the bread pans on the middle rack of your oven and then turn the heat to 350°F. This is a cold start baking method that allows your dough to continue to rise as the dough bakes. Bake for 40-50 minutes. If you have a sharp thermometer you can check the internal temperature and it is done with it's over 195°F. Otherwise, when the top looks golden brown, it's done.
- Remove the bread from the pans and let cool on a wire rack. It is best if you wait until they are room temperature before cutting.
- Store on the counter in a bag or airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.
More tips for substitution and finishing the loaves.
If you’re going to add in oatmeal, flax meal, wheat bran, etc you should do that in the first step and substitute what you’re adding for equal weight. Ex: 300 g wheat flour, 100 g oatmeal. I’ve been brushing a maple syrup and oil mix onto my loaves lately and that adds just a bit of sweet to the crust. The oil helps keep the tops soft and gives it a nice brown color as it bakes.
**You can get wheat gluten online, in health food stores, or in the Bobs Red Mill bags. The added gluten gives your bread a higher protein content and it helps the loaves rise more evenly.
*Shaping loaves takes practice. Basically you pat out the dough into a rectangle and then start rolling it in order to get a tight top. If you want to make a cinnamon swirl pour a cinnamon sugar blend onto your dough rectangle and roll it up. I allow my cinnamon swirl bread to rise a little longer in the pan before baking so that it doesn’t have such a substantial oven spring.
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