In my last post, I mentioned how I 'whipped up' some bread to go with my soup. This is the bread in question. Except that the loaf I made yesterday was not quite as eye-catchingly lovely as this one. Yesterday's loaf fell flat, like a quick-bread. It tasted good, but I was bummed over the appearance.
The problem, it seemed, was over-rising my dough. When I researched flat bread on the internets, this was the problem cited. I know immediately I was guilty. I didn't even feign innocence, like, "...Damn...er...stupid recipe...yeah, that's it. It's the recipe's fault." No, I was impatient. The dough rose WAY too quickly both times. I knew I was in for trouble when peeling the plastic wrap off the loaf (upon the second rising) made it sink into the pan. Over-rising can be caused by a) too long a rising time, b) too hot a rising area, or c) both. In my case, it was was both. B, followed by A. Drat.
Because this bread is an absolute snap to make otherwise, I tried my hand at a second loaf today. While it didn't rise quite as high as I hoped, it turned out much better than attempt number one. And now I have 1 1/2 loaves of COMPLETELY delicious, artisan-quality sandwich bread for the week. Sometimes it's bad to err.
Classic Sandwich Bread (from King Arthur Flour)
-3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
-1/2 cup milk**
-1/2-2/3 cup hot water (enough to make a smooth, soft dough)**
-4 tablespoons melted butter, margarine, or vegetable oil
-2 tablespoons sugar
-1 1/4 teaspoons salt
-1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water OR 2 teaspoons instant yeast (**NOTE: On the first loaf, I didn't read the bit about dissolving the yeast in warm water, so I just mixed it in dry. It worked fine. The second loaf found me actually READING the directions, so I did as directed. It did not work fine. Somehow, it made the dough gloppy and sticky. I had to add extra sprinklings of flour to make it kneadable.**)
*You may substitute King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour for up to half of the all-purpose flour in this recipe.
**Mix the cold-from-the-fridge milk with 1/2 cup of the hot-from-the-tap water to make a lukewarm combination
1. In a large bowl, combine all of the 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 6-8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer, or food processor, in a bread machine set to the dough or manual cycle. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise until puffy (though not necessarily doubled **this is KEY!**) about 1-2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8" log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan. Cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the bread to rise for about 60 minutes, until it's domed about 1" above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.
3. Bake the bread in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until it's a 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 degrees at the center of the loaf). Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
Yield: 1 loaf