The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How do the commercial bakers get that white fluffy bread?

margaretsmall's picture

How do the commercial bakers get that white fluffy bread?

I've been making bread for a couple of years, progressed from a bread maker to sourdough, etc. A few weeks my husband came home from the supermarket with a generic white sandwich loaf and proceeded to pass up my fresh baked rolls (Reinhart's straun,  since you asked) and made himself a sandwich with the white stuff. I was a bit miffed as you can imagine, then yesterday, having moved onto to Dan Lepards book, I made his sourdough white leaven bread, which I thought tasted fine. When asked, my dear man said it was OK, but he really preferred the commercial sandwich white bread, 'like you used to make'. Actually I can't remember making anything like that, but never mind. So, my question is, how do they do it? I've noticed my rolls weigh about double the weight of commercial rolls of the same size, yet their crumb isnt full of holes, the texture is quite  and even. I guess somehow they get lots more air into their crumb but how? For his sake, I'd like to lighten up my bread.  I guess this is probably a too general question, but my loaves are usually fairly dense, sometimes I can see that they haven't risen quite enough, and I'm working in that. I'm confident that my doughs are hydrated enough. So, any ideas?


MANNA's picture

Store bread is processed differently and has a bunch of conditioners in it. The hydration is lower so the machines can process it without getting gummed-up. This is offset by conditioners that keep it moist and fresher longer. You are going to want a straight dough. Something like Hammelman's pullman loaf but baked in a loaf pan. For the ingredients you may want to try adding some soy Lecithin. It helps with shelf life and adds a small nutty flavor. Also add in some barley malt for flavor and color. Since this is a straight dough it wont have time to develop its own flavor. Next the mixing. You are going to have to ruin the dough. Destroy those cartenoid pigments that are so important. It will give the dough a dirty after-taste, good thing you put in all those additives to cover it up. This is called intensive mixing. Easy to do with a commercial mixer not so easy with a home mixer. You want to mix it and really raise the temp of the dough. The dough turns bright white like toothpaste. Its very warm to the touch but super easy to handle. Happy machines on the production line. You can get close to this by mixing a single loaf in your stand mixer for about 30min or more. Then bulk ferment, shape, place in loaf pan, score,  final rise, and bake. When its on final rise let it almost triple. It will have nearly no oven spring and must be handled carefully. This is why we score before the final rise. Scoring after would deflate the dough. And then bake. A little butter brushed on the crust right after baking will bring out the crust colour some and soften the crust. I need to attend confession now that I have sinned and told someone how to make commercial bread. "Dear Fresh-Loafers it has been mmmfffurfhh years since my last confession, I have committed blasphemy by speaking of the commercial bread process. Forgive me for I have sinned".

Yerffej's picture

"...a generic white sandwich loaf.."

A generic white sandwich loaf is a perfect description and should not be confused with bread, which it is not.


mini_maggie's picture

Maybe he means just a bread machine enriched sandwich loaf rather than a hearth/sourdough bread?   Dig out your old bread machine recipes and see if that makes him happy. 

Put Wonder Bread in the search bar and you'll get all kind of results - or tang zhong, but I don't think life has to be that complicated for unfussy husbands, lol.


azmar's picture

I've had good results with this recipe from Txfarmer.

If you don't have a starter, it also works well as a yeast bread - just add the flour and liquid in the starter to the main dough instead. The flavour will be different from the original, but still tasty.

I usually use around 0.7% yeast (e.g. 2g of yeast to 300g of flour). I do the first rise overnight in the fridge and the second rise at room temp the next day. Room temps here are around 27 to 31 Celsius. The second rise takes around 2 to 2.5h.

Ginzu Gary Lee's picture
Ginzu Gary Lee

I've had the same problem - plain white sandwich bread. I use this recipe and it always satisfies those Wonder bread fans. You cant make it like commercial soft lifeless doughy bread, but they will eat this and not complain. This is a recipe from the flour bag at King Aurthur Flour.


dabrownman's picture

Wonder Bread was the King of breads.  I've tried everthing I know, using all the tricks, to make bread like it to no avil.   txfarmer's is the best so far but it is still not close enough for the addicited.  

margaretsmall's picture

Dear manna, your secret is safe with us. I thought commercial practices would be somewhat different to what we do, but, 30 minutes mixing? Goodness, no wonder it compresses down to nothing when you squeeze it. Thank you everyone else for the suggestions. As soon as I 'force' my husband to eat the delicious olive, potato and sage loaf (Mardewi, Wild sourdough) I'll give the King Arthur recipe a whirl. (he's actually very nice about my strange bread and cheese products, so I'm happy to cut him some slack occasionally!)


Antilope's picture

The best homemade white sandwich bread that I have found is Peter Reinhart's White Bread (variation 2) from the Bread Baker's Apprentice. You can find the full recipe instructions on page 268 of the book. If someone requests it, I can paraphrase the instructions here. I have adapted the recipe with a tangzhong roux (substituting 1/2 cup of water for some of the buttermilk and using 3 Tbsp of the flour, mixed and heated to 150-F in a microwave to create a pudding-like roux) to make it even lighter and fluffier. It's my go to white sandwich bread.

I also make this into a light wheat sandwich bread by substituting 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 bread flour.

Baker's Percentage and Ingredients as printed in the BBA:



White Bread, Variation 2 
Bread flour                  100%
Salt                                 2**
Sugar                             7.9
Instant yeast                  1.2
Egg                                8.7
Butter                            10.5
Buttermilk                      63.2
Total                             193.5


Makes two 1-pound loaves, 18 dinner rolls, or 12 burger or hot dog buns

4 1/4 cups (19 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 ounce) salt**
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons (.22 ounce) instant yeast
1 large (1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, margarine, or shortening, at room temperature, or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature



Paraphrased baking instructions (from the BBA.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F for loaves or 400°F for the rolls and buns.

Bake the rolls or buns for about 15 minutes, or until they are a nice golden brown and read just above 180°F in the center.

For loaves, bake them for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the loaves 180 degrees halfway through for even baking, if needed.

The internal temperature for the loaves should be close to 190°F, and the loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.


** In the Bread Baker's Apprentice, Peter Reinhart states that he used table salt as the benchmark in the recipes because everyone has it on hand. 

MANNA's picture

I gave this recipe a try. Mixed it in a KA 6qt for 10 min on medium speed. Dont walk away from it it was moving around. Loaf came out very nice, soft sandwich bread all the way. I baked at 350 since there was no temp given. What was the suggested oven temp for this recipe?

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

350F - so spot on!

MANNA's picture

Here is a pic of the bread I made using the stated recipe. I baked in a DO and used water instead of milk. Decrease the amount of water used. If using milk make sure to scald it and then let cool. If using buttermilk warm it slightly for a final dough temp of 75 degrees. Overall this is a really nice bread. Versatile, I even made cinnamon buns out of it. I mixed on medium speed in my KA 6qt for 10 min. Let proof, shape, final proof and baked in DO covered for 20 min then uncovered intill the crust was nice and dark. It is deceiving from the crust color but it is a soft crust.

Ruralidle's picture

My family love bread made using this recipe - .  I increase the percentage of the milk and heat it to just below boiling point then add the water and let it cool to hand hot before adding it to the dry ingredients.  I use my Kenwood to do all the mixing for this bread but it makes great soft rolls and tinned loaves.

DavidEF's picture

I have made soft bread lots of times with sourdough. Once, I accidentally made it so soft I couldn't hope to cut it straight. It was like trying to cut through a feather pillow. All I did that time was forget to add salt. I had it shaped and rising in a loaf pan, and it overproved before I could get the oven hot enough to bake it. So, I guess you can get it a little softer by just overproving it. And, you can get it to overprove very quickly if you use less salt, or none, although it will lack some flavor.

But, my bread had always been dense, no matter what I tried, until I started using bread flour. I thought using AP wouldn't make that much of a difference. HA! When I bought a bag of bread flour and baked with it the first time, the loaf was 20 or 30 percent larger, and much softer. You can use enrichments like milk, eggs, oil or butter, and sugar or honey, to make your bread softer too, but in my kitchen, the difference those made was minimal compared to having the right flour. Oh yeah, I'd tried adding Vital Wheat Gluten to my AP instead of using bread flour. I don't know why I thought that would work. It made it chewier. So, make sure you're using a good quality bread flour.

Also, I'd read that you need a hot oven and initial steam to make awesome bread. Well, if you want a crispy crust and a chewy crumb, that's right, crank up the oven and steam it for the first 10 minutes or so. If however, you want a softer crust and lighter, fluffier crumb, bake at a lower temp, and don't use steam. I went from baking at 425F for 45 minutes with steam for the first 15 minutes, to baking at 375F for 40 minutes with no steam. After all, I was trying to make sandwich bread! When I wish to make an artisan loaf, I crank it back up, and I use steam. Oh, the lessons we learn!

Nowadays, I usually make my bread with just flour, water, starter, and salt, at about 67% hydration. I use good bread flour, my starter is about 20 to 30 percent of the recipe, or more, salt is about 2% of total flour, oven preheated for an hour at 375F with a pizza stone in, bake in loaf pan for 20 minutes, then take out of pan and set on pizza stone for 20 minutes. That is for two loaves at 8.5 by 4.5 inch loaf pans. Not as soft as it is with enrichments, but works great for my sandwiches!

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Try Ellen's (formerly Moomie's) bun recipe formed into a loaf.  It's pretty popular with lovers of the fluffy white stuff, which I freely admit is not really bread but which I nevertheless prefer above all others for toast.

Also, I'm wondering if the sourdough is the issue.  I HATE sourdough flavor.  I would eat ANYTHING to avoid sourdough, including the mushiest cheap white bread that tears like there's no tomorrow if you so much as approach it with a pat of butter (let alone peanut butter).

Some people just don't go for the sourdough thing.



BBQinMaineiac's picture

We have a friend, Jane,  who has an aunt who has her retired 60+ year old son living with her. The son is a vegan and makes extremely dense bread. It's the only bread this older lady gets on a regular basis now. After making the KAF classic white and discovering the soft nature of it I shared the recipe with Jane. She shared the loaf with her aunt and the aunt, so I was told, rolled her eyes and REALLY enjoyed it.

I must admit that at times I prefer just a junky soft loaf for toast and sandwiches. It's just part of the normal variation of what makes life, food, and bread, interesting. IMO, everyone should have a loaf like this available in their repertoire for those who prefer a tasteless and textureless loaf. Yes, I like it once in awhile myself for a break from the whole grain loaves.