The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

basic white sandwich bread aggravation

hsmum's picture

basic white sandwich bread aggravation

This morning I departed from my newbie efforts at French loaves at the request of my dear husband, who enjoys same but requested "useful" bread for sandwiches.  As we are currently buying a loaf or more a day, I conceded it would be useful and a good experience to learn to make a basic white sandwich bread.  So....a look at one of my favourite recipe books produced a recipe for "basic white bread".  It's maybe important to say that this recipe book is written by daughters of Alberta, Canada home-steaders, and so includes a lot of "down-home" basic food.  It's been a fantastic and extremely reliable cookbook.  The bread ingredients are not measured by weight, but as I live in Alberta myself, I would have expected their measurements & directions to be fairly reliable for this elevation. 

This is the recipe, to give you an idea what I'm working with.  I did follow the directions exactly, even though they are quite different from what I've been doing.

2 tsp sugar

1 cup lukewarm water

2 tbsp active dry yeast

2 cups milk, scalded

6 tbsp sugar

4 tsp salt

1 cup cold water

4 tbsp butter

11 cups flour, approx (I only used 10 total)

Dissolve 2 tsp sugar in lukewarm water, sprinkle yeast on top and let stand 10 min. Scald milk and add 6 tbsp sugar & salt. When dissolved, add 1 cup cold water to bring mixture to lukewarm.  Add butter.  Measure 10 cups flour, make well in centre.  Mix liquid ingredients together and pour into well.

What a mess!  Busy mums don't need this waste of time!  The bread dough was extremely dry, to the point where it just wouldn't seem to come together at all, so I added an additional cup or so of room-temperature water -- maybe more.  This eventually brought the dough to a good consistency, but I can't seem to work it properly.  I'm doing it by hand and my limited previous experience with this has went well.  This time, the dough doesn't seem to want to re-connect with itself on a knead or fold.  This is a gluten problem, right?  Is it just something with this type of dough, maybe (i.e. different gluten development than with a French loaf)?  I tried folding it, letting it rest for a few minutes and then coming back to it a couple of times.  Definitely looks better and is smoother each time, but still won't fold in on itself properly.  It's as if it's too dry to do this, but i sure wouldn't have thought so given the consistency. Thoughts?




Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

My basic white bread has gotten rave reviews from my husband for both taste and sandwichability.  I tend not to really measure anything but the flour anymore, but this is the rough loaf amounts.

1 pound white flour (you can substitute up to 1/3 whole wheat for slightly healthier bread)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

2-3 tablespoons butter, shortening, or oil (butter is better flavor, IMO)

1 tablespoon sugar or 2 tablespoons honey (honey for better flavor)

1/2 cup milk (at least 2%)

3/4 cup buttermilk

Melt your butter and let the milk and buttermilk come to room temperature. I stick the milk in the microwave for 15 seconds or so to get it to yeast proofing temperature, but if you're using instant yeast this won't be a problem.

Add the sugar or honey to the milk and stir, then add the yeast if using active dry. Proof the active dry for 5 or so minutes.

Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add milk & honey mixture, buttermilk, and butter and mix.  Knead for a few minutes in the bowl, until the dough comes together, and rest for a few minutes.  Turn out on your counter and knead for a few more minutes until you get a smooth ball.  This dough may be a bit sticky, but letting it rest should've taken care of some of that.

Let rise until double, punch down, rise until double again, shape, put in loaf pan, and proof. Bake at 375 degrees until dark golden brown on top (or 190-195 degrees, I just don't have a thermometer right now that works).

This makes a loaf of bread with a bit more texture than store bought white bread and a whole lot more flavor.

A note: yes, this makes one loaf. A very high loaf. It's how we like our sandwiches. I put it in a normal 9x5 pan.

hsmum's picture

Thanks for this recipe -- I will try it later today for sure. 

In the meantime, I decided to set the dough to rise anyway -- i expect to have to chuck the bread, but it's a learning experience, right?  So the recipe wanted it to rise just once but said to let it sit for 2 hours or until doubled.  Now normally, I have to let dough rise for 1.5 to 2 times what the recipe says (old drafty house).  So I actually thought this recipe might need 3 hours or more to double.  Wow -- it doubled in less than an hour! Probably more than doubled, actually.  Oh well, it will be interesting to see the results.


Weedyapl's picture

I've been trying to crack this for a while now and im trying hard not to give up, your receipe has given me hope, no water i see i bet this is a very fluffly white loaf. I shall give it a try :)

clazar123's picture


Not nearly enough liquid. I think that must have been very difficult to work with and then to try and fix. Breadcrumbs?

The subsequently posted recipe looks much better.I have been looking for a proven, single loaf recipe. As for the "very high loaf", I recently started using my square, corning ware casseroles to shape my bread-much higher sides-much bigger slices.Works great until I can find a small pullman pan.

Marni's picture

I agree, that is too much flour for the amount of liquid.  This doesn't help with your current recipe situation, but my family loves this recipe:

Amish Bread

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup+ 2T warm water

I make this in the Kitchen Aid-

Put the water, yeast and sugar in the mixer and let sit 5 min. or so. Add every thing else and mix. Knead until smooth and firm. Allow to rise until double. Shape and rise again. (I use a loaf pan) Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes. Thump to check for doneness.

You can find the original here: 

I play around with this a lot, cutting back on the oil and sugar or making it with white whole wheat.  It comes out great every time.

I hope this helps,


hsmum's picture

Okay, they're out of the oven, and lovely little bricks they are, too! They are small and heavy.  I did cut into one and have a bite.  The loaf was hot when I cut it but the crumb looks much like what you'd expect from your everyday store-bought sandwich bread, actually.  Tasted okay.  But it seemed to me that there was an odd smell about the loaf.  This prompted me to smell the yeast (active dry).  There is a strong smell to it, too -- it was a brand new jar opened this morning.  Is that okay, or should I throw it out?  I'm quite sure the jars I've used previously have not had that odour, (although this is a different brand).

Thanks for the two sandwich bread recipes -- I will try them out .


hsmum's picture

I just figured out what the dry yeast smells like -- very sour milk.  My guess is this is a bad thing...yes?


PaddyL's picture

...try spritzing the dough with water as you knead it.  The recipe sounds pretty straightforward, but when it comes to making bread, I never add liquid to dry, I always do it the other way around despite what the recipe says.  For some strange reason, they always tell you to put too much flour into the bowl before making your well into which you pour the liquid.  I think it comes from the times when people had a heap of flour on their tables, made a well in that, then worked in the wet ingredients by gathering bits of the dry into the middle and mixing it all by hand; putting the flour into a bowl would give less chance of having the liquid breach the flour 'dam' and drip all over the floor.

hsmum's picture

Spritzing is a great tip - thanks!  And I've always puzzled over recipes that ask you to make a well -- I ignore that direction routinely and have never had a problem.  (Although in this recipe I did follow it.)  Your historical explanation makes sense!


baltochef's picture

The following recipe is for a white sandwich bread, otherwise known as a Pain de Mie..It works equally well in either a lidded Pullman bread pan, or in conventional tapered, open-top bread pans..It will make excellent rolls, as well..This recipe is somewhat heartier than many white sandwich breads due to the addition of coarse rye (pumpernickel) flour into the ingredient list..

Pain de Mie


19 oz. by weight, whole milk, 100F

3 oz. pumpernickel flour

10 oz. white bread flour

1 oz. granulated sugar

1 3/4 teaspoon of instant yeast--I use the SAF Gold instant yeast, but any brand of instant yeast should work equally well

Final Dough:

Contents of proofed sponge

1 oz. unsalted butter, near to melting

15.5 oz. white bread flour

2 1/2 teaspoons table salt

Notes: Mix ingredients for sponge together..I do this in the bowl of my DLX mixer..Cover w/ plastic wrap and allow to rise for 60 minutes at 80F..It will more than double..Add the nearly melted butter, and mix until well incorporated..I do this with the scraper and roller installed into the bowl of the DLX mixer..On low speed, add the flour and salt to the sponge / butter all at once..I whisk the salt into the flour to evenly incorporate it into the flour..Knead until the dough is well developed, it forms a clean ball of dough free of the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, and its internal temperature is 78-85F..This takes 6 minutes on my DLX mixer set to medium speed in order to form strong gluten strands..It may take longer on other mixers, or by hand kneading..I know that all of the books say that one should not exceed 82F as a final temperature after kneading; but my experience has shown that as long as I keep the temperature below 85F things will turn out fine..I flatten the dough ball into the bottom of the DLX's mixing bowl that I have sprayed with pan spray..I also mist the top of the dough with the pan spray..Cover the bowl w/ plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 minutes at 80F, or until doubled in volume..Remove the dough from the bowl onto a bench (table) top..Scale into the werights necessary for the size bread pans that you are using..Some suggestions for weights are listed below..Round up each ball of dough tightly, whether for loaves or rolls..Mist lightly with pan spray, and cover well with plastic wrap, or an unscented plastic trash bag that has been cut open..Allow the dough balls to rise / relax until they can be easily worked..This will take between 15-30 minutes, sometimes longer depending on the room's temperature..When the dough balls pass the finger poke test, form into loaves, or rolls..For loaves I degas the dough ball heavily..For rolls I degas the dough balls perhaps 50%-75%, and place on parchment-lined sheet pans..Proof loaves being baked in open-topped pans until the dough rises approximately 1" above the rim of the pan..Proof loaves being baked in Pullman pans until the dough nearly, but not quite, reaches the rim of the pan, then install the lid..Proof rolls until they fill out and look ready to bake..Rolls and open-topped loaves can now be egg washed and topped if desired..Slashed, if that too is desired..Bake at 350F until the internal temperature of the loaf, or roll, reaches 200-205F..

Suggested Dough Weights:

2.5"x4.5"x8.5" small standard bread pans = 1 lb. 3 oz.

3"x5"x9" large standard bread pans = 1 lb. 11 oz.

4"x4"x8.5" Pullman pan = 1lb. 9 oz.

4"x4"x13" Pullman pan = 2lb. 6 oz.

Hamburger roll = 4-5 oz. (depending upon how much you degas the dough balls)

Dinner rolls = 2-3 oz.

I hope this recipe is a help to you..