After buying sliced turkey yesterday, we discovered that our post-Gustav, post-Ike loaf of Pepperidge Farm “italian” sliced bread had gone moldy in record time, no doubt helped along by 8 hours of no airconditioning (thanks, Ike). So I cranked out a loaf and some rolls of the easiest white bread around…a formula from Peter Reinhart’s “Bread Baker’s Apprentice” (page 266). My loaf is based on his White Bread, variation I. It is a quick-rising (especially in the heat of late summer), direct-dough bread that makes outstanding hamburger or hotdog buns, or a long-keeping loaf bread suitable for sandwich slicing.
I reduce the sugar a little and substitute 3/4 cup whole wheat flour for part of the bread flour in the original formula:
- 4 cups unbleached bread flour
- 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup powdered milk
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 1/4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups water
Dump everything into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix w/dough hook on low until combined, then increase speed to medium and knead for 5-7 minutes–dough should clear sides of bowl but stick slightly to the bottom. Add flour or water as necessary to achieve this consistency. Check dough after 5 minutes–a bit of it stretched between your fingers should not tear–it should strech into a “windowpane”. Put kneaded dough into a greased container & rest until it is doubled (barely an hour in my hot kitchen). Divide into two for loaves, or into 12 equal pieces for rolls. Rest 20 minutes before shaping into a loaf; place in greased loaf pan & proof until almost double. Heat oven to 350 for loaves, 400 for rolls. Slash loaf before popping into the oven; cook loaves for 30 minutes and rolls for 15.
That’s it….barely 20 minutes of active time yields two loaves of tasty white bread. My grandma MaLou used to make her rolls in a muffin tin, which gave each petit pain a rounded top and extra-crispy crust from contact with the metal; she also used shortening rather than butter in her white bread. See, who needs Evangeline Maid or Bunny Bread? Don’t know ’bout your house, but me, I’m ready for the next storm ’cause I’ve got white bread and cold cuts. C’mon, Mother Nature, what’s in store this week?