I was looking through various bread books yesterday. I wasn't sure what I wanted to make, but we were out of bread, or almost out, so I needed to bake something.
I actually found two recipes, in two different books, that I decided to make. The first one I found will be posted another time (because it's not done yet – it's a two-day process), so today I give you the second one.
But THIS bread, according to my husband (the soft white bread afficianado in residence), is THE SOFTEST BREAD ever to grace a sandwich.
So if you're in search of the ultimate in edible yeasted softness, you might want to give this recipe a try.
Indiana Basic White Bread comes from a paperback volume by Mary Gubser entitiled America's Bread Book. To be honest, this is probably the first recipe I've used from it. I'm not even sure where I got it – maybe from my mom, or Bill's mom, or maybe I picked it up somewhere when I was in my first major bread-baking obsessive period about 12 years ago. Who knows. But there it was, at one end of the shelf. And so I opened it.
The chapters are divided by region of the United States, and then subdivided by state. Because I live in RI, that was the first section I looked at, and, not surprisingly, there were several recipes for jonnycakes and one for New England Brown Bread.
Not what I was looking for.
I flipped through the pages, just looking for something plain and simple, and in the "Ohio Valley" section, I found this recipe for Indiana Basic White Bread on pages 238-239.
And yes, it's very basic.
(My notes are in bold italics below.)
4 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 cups warm milk or potato water (I used the milk)
2 1/2 tsp salt
3 T sugar
1/4 cup melted butter (unsalted)
7-8 cups unbleached white flour
And here's what you do:
In a small bowl combine the yeast and water, stirring until dissolved, and set aside. Combine milk, salt, sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend well and add the yeast mixture. (I dissolved the yeast in the water and some of the milk, then added that to the rest of the milk in my mixing bowl.
I whisked the melted butter and sugar together
and added them to the milk/water/yeast. And I mixed the salt with the first 3 cups of flour added to the bowl.) Beat in 3 cups of flour and gradually add sufficient flour to make a soft, workable dough that pulls away from sides of the bowl. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and resilient, about 10 minutes. Round into a ball and place in a warm buttered bowl, turning to coat the top. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Knead down, re-cover, and let rise again, about 30 minutes.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and divide into 3 equal portions. Knead each, cover, and let rest 10-15 minutes. Butter three 8-inch loaf pans. Shape dough into loaves and place in pans. Cover and let rise to tops of pans. (I used my 9 x 5 loaf pans because that's what I have. I formed two loaves, and then cut the remaining third of the dough into small pieces, rolled them into balls and put them in the loaf pan. I wanted rolls, kind of.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake loaves about 35 minutes. Turn loaves out on wire racks to cool.
We had about half of the lumpy loaf with chowder that I made that night for dinner. Most of one loaf is also gone now, and the other loaf is in the freezer.
It's great for cold sandwiches or grilled cheese sandwiches or toast. Or, if you're my husband, it's soothing just to sit somewhere quiet, with a blankie, and rub the bread against your cheek.
I suppose I shouldn't have shared that part.
Anyway – if you want to try another soft white bread recipe, this one's a nice one!