So, you probably haven’t heard me use terms like “best ever” around here too much. Those aren’t words I like to throw around lightly. In fact, I think it’s one of those things that can come across sounding a little fake. In this case, however, I’m going to go ahead and put it out there – because this bread truly deserves it. This classic white sandwich bread is light and pillowy, with a oh-so-slightly crisp crust. It’s got wonderful flavor, is soft on the inside, and rises up nice and tall – perfect for going old school with some pb&j or a toasty grilled cheese. As an added bonus, it freezes really well – so if you’re like us and there’s no way you’re going through 2 entire loaves of bread before they go stale, just slice one up and stick it in the freezer! Or give one to your neighbors or something – trust me, they’ll thank you for it.
- 4½ teaspoons yeast (active dry or instant should be fine; I tend to use active dry)
- ¾ cup plus 2 2/3 cup warm water, divided (100-110˚ F)
- ¼ cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 9-10 cups (38 1/4 – 42 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (for brushing)
In a liquid measuring cup, combine ¾ cup of the warm water with the yeast. Add a pinch of sugar, stir and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until it is nice and foamy (to make sure the yeast is active). In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining water, sugar, salt, butter and 5 cups of the flour. Pour the yeast mixture over the top and stir until a dough begins to form. Gradually add in the remaining 4-5 cups of flour, about 1/2 – 1 cup at a time, until the dough becomes smooth and tacky without being overly sticky. Reserve some of the flour for sprinkling over your work surface. Continue to knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes, or until a smooth ball of dough has formed. Alternatively, you can do the mixing and kneading in your stand mixer, using the dough hook and low speed (the time will be shortened – about 6-8 minutes).
Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 60-90 minutes, or until the dough has nearly doubled in bulk.
Grease 2 9 x 5-inch loaf pans and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 2 equal portions. Being careful not to deflate the dough too much, gently shape one portion of dough into a rectangle roughly 9 x 15-inches. Starting on a short end, tightly roll the dough up into a log and pinch the seam shut. Roll the 2 sides under the loaf and transfer to one of the prepared loaf pans and press the dough gently until it fills the sides of the pan. Repeat with the second portion of dough. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow to rise an additional 30-45 minutes, or until nearly doubled (the dough should not rise more than 1 inch above the rim of the pan).
While the dough is rising, move an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 400°F. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops of the loaves with some of the melted butter. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the loaves reach 190°F in the center, rotating once halfway through baking. If the loaves seem to be getting too browned on top but still aren’t finished baking, cover loosely with foil. Allow the loaves to cool briefly in the pans, then turn the loaves out onto wire racks. If desired, the loaves can be brushed with additional melted butter at this point. Allow to cool completely.
Yield: 2 9×5-inch loaves