Sandwich bread is special in a way. In Poland, it’s universally treated as toast material only, which is also reflected in its name (chleb tostowy literally means “toast bread”), but in other parts of the world its often considered the main bread type. It’s mass produced, it’s transported over large distances and it was designed with shelf life in mind, which is reflected in the sizeable ingredients list. However, it can be baked at home, with no preservatives and using only top quality ingredients.
The below recipe makes one large loaf (2.5 lb loaf tin) or two small ones.
- 600 g strong white wheat flour
- 290 g milk
- 100 g water
- 50 g melted butter
- 12 g fresh yeast (or 6 g dried)
- 12 g salt
In a bowl, mix water, milk, salt and yeast. Stir, then add butter and flour. Mix until roughly combined, then knead for around 10 minutes.
Leave covered to prove until the dough doubles in volume.
Knock the dough back, preshape into a tight ball and leave on the counter for a few minutes in order for gluten to relax. Dust with flour and shape the loaf. Place in the loaf tin and leave to prove until the dough at least doubles in size again.
Przebić ciasto, uformować w ciasną kulkę i zostawić na blacie na kilka minut w celu rozluźnienia glutenu. Oprószyć mąką i uformować bochenek. Przełożyć do formy i odstawić do wyrośnięcia.
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180°C (350°F) or until light golden.
Sandwich bread dough, as long as there’s proper gluten formation, can rise a lot, up to the point of overflowing the loaf tin and forming a mushroom shape. If this happens, it’s worth considering scaling the recipe down a bit to a size that would normally accomodate a slightly smaller tin. Alternatively, it’s possible to remove 10-20% of the dough and baking it separately into buns (they should work fine for hot dogs or hamburgers).
Slight modifications of the above recipe are fine too. I like to replace 100 g of the bread flour with wholemeal rye. This enriches the bread’s taste. Milk can be replaced entirely with water. In such a case, it’s worth adding a bit of sugar, up to around 30 g. This will ensure the slices brown better when making toast.
Sandwich bread, sold in plastic bags in every grocery store, often sparks some negative response. It lies on the shelf for a long time without going stale or growing mould, so something must be wrong with it, right? Well, I can see its positive side too. I can’t imagine a better toast material. The key is to bake it at home. The recipe, as usual, can be found on the blog.
Obviously, I’m going to need flour. In this case, I’m using strong white wheat flour, but it’s possible to use a bit of wholemeal flour to enrich the taste. Sandwich bread dough is enriched with fat, so I’ll use melted butter too. Apart from these, I’ll also need yeast, milk, water and salt.
First, into the bowl go all the wet ingredients, yeast and salt. I dissolve the yeast in the liquid. Some butter solidifies, but that won’t be an issue. Next, I add the flour and roughly mix the ingredients. I flip the dough onto the countertop and knead for around 10 minutes, until a strong gluten mesh develops. The windowpane test confirms the gluten strength: I’m able to stretch the dough thin, almost translucent, before it tears.
I round the dough and pop it into a bowl for the initial fermentation. Actually, I will likely need a bigger bowl. The dough will prove covered until it doubles in volume. Over two hours in my case.
After the initial prove, I knock it back, meaning, I remove carbon dioxide from it. It will equalise the internal temperature and make the dough rise faster during the final fermentation.
I preshape the loaf by rounding the dough one more time. I dust it with rice flour and leave it on the counter for a few minutes. This will relax the gluten mesh and prevent it from tearing during the final shaping.
I flip the rested dough seam up and stretch it to form a flat disc. I fold the sides inwards to form a wedge. Finally, I roll the dough tightly starting from the pointy end. I push the dough underneath itself using my thumbs and end up forming a cigar shape. The dough goes into a loaf tin, where it’ll prove until it at least doubles in volume, which in my case usually takes around an hour.
Sadly, I lost the footage after the final prove. This is a different loaf, a tad smaller than the previous one because it was made with slightly less flour. Into a preheated oven it goes.
And here it is, fully baked. The parchment paper lining has held so many loaves before this one that it finally became too brittle to continue using it.
The best way of having sandwich bread, in my opinion, is with homemade jam and a mug of coffee. Ideally, in the form of a toast, but I’ll have it plain. Slicing is easy since the bread is very soft. There’s barely any crust. It tears almost like candy floss. It’s not sweet though. It’s very delicate and buttery, but any sweetness, if desired, must come from the toppings, like my jam.
Delicious! It’s undoubtedly the best sandwich bread I’ve had!