Homemade sandwich bread beats the flavor of bread off the grocery store shelf hands down but home bakers can get discouraged if it turns out crumbly and dry. I dare you to give this one a try! It was created in my kitchen for my family and the texture is perfect for sandwich bread–we call it “Best Bread”.
I come back to this recipe over and over as it makes a soft slice that is perfect for sandwiches and toasting. For some, transitioning your family to whole wheat bread comes with complaints and fuss. This recipe is perfectly delicious and with a mix of nutritious whole wheat flour and store-bought unbleached bread flour is love at the first bite. This recipe has been tried and tested many times using a BOSCH Kitchen mixer. Smaller kitchen mixers may not be able to handle the amount of dough in the recipe. You should have good success making a half-recipe in smaller kitchen mixers using a dough hook or paddle.
- Large Kitchen Mixer
- Grain Mill (Optional)
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Kitchen Scale (Optional)
- Loaf Pans
Step-By-Step Instructions for Best Bread: Soft Sandwich Bread
For freshly-milled whole wheat flour, mill 4 1/2 cups of hard white wheat (Prairie Gold is recommended) in a high-speed kitchen grain mill. Use a very fine-setting for milling the grain into flour. Set aside.
Optional: Purchase whole wheat flour if you do not have access to a grain mill to grind fresh wheat flour.
Place ingredients in a large kitchen mixer equipped with a dough hook in this sequence:
2/3 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup real butter, very soft or melted
3/4 cup expeller pressed sunflower oil (may substitute mild tasting oil–safflower, rapeseed, etc)
2/3 cup dry milk powder (optional-see note below)
4 Tablespoons dough enhancer (optional-see note below)
4 teaspoons sea salt
5 cups very warm water (110-120 degrees)
5 cups whole wheat flour (from step 1)
4 heaping tablespoons dry instant yeast
Mix on a medium speed just until combined. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes until bubbles form on the surface indicating yeast is activated.
[Note: Dry milk powder is optional but is one of the ingredients that adds softness to the texture of this bread and richness to the flavor. This recipe can be made without it and still be very nice or very warm milk can be substituted for the 5 cups of very warm water. Dough enhancer is also optional but recommended for adding softness and naturally preserving the loaves freshness.]
Add to the bowl the following:
6-7 cups unbleached flour (King Arthur Brand is recommended)
Add in the unbleached flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough begins to clean from the sides of the mixer bowl. Watch closely to get just enough flour for a soft workable dough. Too much flour will result in a heavy tough dough. You may not need to use all 7 cups of flour…you may need a bit more.
Allow the mixer to knead the dough for 5 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be soft but stretchy and elastic. Turn off the mixer after about 5 minutes and cover the mixer bowl. Allow the dough to rest in the mixer bowl for up to 25 minutes and no longer than 45 minutes. It will puff up during this rest time. Deflate dough at the end of the resting time by turning on the mixer briefly.
Put 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil onto a clean counter top. Rub around into a small area and use oiled hands to turn the dough out from the mixer bowl onto the clean surface. At this point, you do not want to add more flour into your dough so using oil allows you to work the dough to form the loaves and keeps it from sticking to the counter. Gently gather into a ball. You should have a large soft silky smooth ball of dough. There is no need to overwork it and knead it longer by hand. The mixer did the job for you!
Divide dough into 5 equal portions. You can use your hands or a bench cutter. Gather each portion into a loaf shape, using both hands.
Fold under the wrinkles, leaving you a soft smooth loaf with all the “wrinkles” on the bottom.
I use Vegelene Pan Spray to prepare my pans. Any vegetable shortening wiped around inside the pans or other brands of pan spray will do the job to prevent sticking. This recipe makes 5 loaves using 8″ size loaf pans. Note: The narrow waffled loaf pans by Norpro give a tall nicely-shaped loaf. Place formed loaves into well-greased loaf pans. Pat down the tops of the loaves and set aside in a warm place to rise.
If the room is drafty or chilly, I simply place the pans in my oven to rise. Please note that the oven needs to be OFF while the loaves rise. Allow the loaves to rise, undisturbed for up to 45 minutes.
If you would like to really impress or give your homemade loaves as gifts…it is simple to make them “fancy”! Carefully, brush the loaves (using a soft clean paintbrush or pastry brush) with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk). Make designs on the top with sunflower seeds and/or sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds or flax seeds.
If you like you can use all of them in a combination! Children love to be helpers in the kitchen and make designs on the loaves.
The loaves are ready to bake when they are nicely rounded up over the top of the loaf pan.
If you forget your loaves and allow them to rise over an hour, they will most likely deflate once the heat of the oven begins to bake them. Ugh! A kitchen timer is a home baker’s best friend.
Bake the risen loaves in a 350-degree oven (it is not necessary to preheat the oven) for 35 minutes on the lower middle shelf. It is best to arrange the loaves evenly spaced on the oven shelf to allow for even browning. If necessary rearrange loaves the last 10 minutes of baking time for an even bake. Loaves should be a deep golden brown at the end of the baking time.
Allow loaves to stand undisturbed in pans, after removing from the oven for 5-10 minutes. Carefully remove from the pans and let them cool on wire racks covered with a light clean cloth. Remember to cool completely before slicing.
Yield is 5 (8 inch) loaves.
*Using a kitchen scale to weigh the dough will assure you get evenly-sized loaves.
*Slice the sandwich bread when completely cooled. Bread bakes internally almost an hour after it has been removed from the oven. Slicing while hot can leave a gooey middle as the baking process isn’t complete.
*Do not refrigerate bread. It dries out the loaves. Wrap and freeze extra loaves for up to 1 month.
*Homemade loaves are preservative free. It will stay fresh on the counter for about 3 days in a cool dry place.
*Do not wrap or close up your loaf in a bag until COMPLETELY cooled. If wrapped when warm, it will cause the loaf to sweat and get moisture in the bag, which in turn can make the loaf mold quickly.
*Slicing with an electric serrated knife gives clean, crumb-free slices.
*Pinch off dough into balls and bake in a 9×13 baking pan for buns instead of loaves.
*Add 3/4 cup or roasted sunflower seeds and 1/2 cup of grated carrot to the dough when kneading for a nutty texture and a bright pop of colored flecks in every slice.