One thing that helped me recently is my Panasonic bread maker. It's more than a year old actually but I've only used it several times. We're not too keen with the quality of the baked bread it churns out. The bread itself (or the middle) comes out too moist or wet. We've tried making many different kinds of bread in it (using the recipe book that it comes with) but they all come out the same. I tried reducing the liquid but the bread was worse. So nowadays I just use it as a bread kneader and first riser which it does beautifully. My bread making efforts are definitely reduced and there is less mess all around.
Okay this is not the first ever bread that I did but I was hoping to perfect this bread to use as a staple in our pantry. Perfect as in looking, smelling, and tasting like ones we buy from shops. My benchmark actually is Warburton Toastie which my family loves and in our opinion is the best commercial sandwich bread around. The Best Recipe Cookbook (my constant guide mowadays) provided the recipe that I adapted.
How did it go? It was good although my youngest and my husband was put off by the yeasty smell. So I guess next time I will reduce the yeast considerably. Mind you, I used active dry yeast successfully in the bread maker which in all its instructions always say to use instant dry yeast. But active dry yeast is just fine. All you have to do is 'wake it up' or activate it by dissolving in warm liquid and letting stand for a few minutes. I find it's helpful as well in knowing if your yeast is still good when you see (or not see) it foaming. With the instant dry yeast you won't know until after the first rising and by then all that dough is wasted.
American Sandwich Bread
520 gm bread flour
1 tsp fine salt
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter - melted
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast or active yeast
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Mix the water, milk, butter, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve yeast and sugar. If using active dry yeast, let stand for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to foam.
- Hand method: Mix yeast mixture with the flour until it comes together enough to handle. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and satiny. Shape into a ball. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, rubbing it around to coat it lightly with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and place in a warm place until the dough doubles in size (about 2 hours).
- Bread machine method: Pour the yeast mixture in the bread machine then pour the flour and salt mixture on top. Set machine to dough setting and turn on. This will take about 2 hours to complete the kneading and rising.
- Once the first rising is done, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Shape into a log and place in a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until double in size (about 1 hour).
- Bake in a 350F/180C/fan 160C pre-heated oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
- Remove from pan and tap bottom of bread. If it sounds hollow the bread is ready, if not return to pan and oven for another 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.