Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (2024)

The Perfect Loaf for Beginning Bread Bakers


This is my most popular bread recipe, which I've been baking since 2000. It was originally published on A Year in Bread, a jointbakingprojectBeth, Kevin, and I started back in 2007.There were over 170 comments on the original Farmhouse White post, many from nervous novices who are nowconfidentbread bakers.

If you're just learning how to bake your own bread, you might find my Ten Tips on How To Bake Better Artisan Breads at Home helpful.


I also explain how to shape bread dough into sandwich loaves and offer some more bread baking tips in this post. And you'll find links to more bread recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (2)

A classic, flavorful white bread made with real milk, not dry milk powder.

This really is a very simple and easy recipe, so don't let all these paragraphs scare you away. I wanted to carefully explain each step and answer the questions I'm often asked about making this bread, so the instructions would be clear to beginning bakers.

I also included a lot of the helpful little things I'velearned during the many years I've been baking and perfecting this bread. Enjoy!

Have you been longing to learn how to bake your own sandwich bread? My simple Farmhouse White is the perfect place to start.

It's a traditional loaf that's nice and soft, but not too soft. It's great for just about any kind of sandwich and brings peanut butter and jam (a staple in our house) to a whole new level. It's wonderful toasted, smells heavenly while toasting, and makes an awesome

BLT

.

This is the kind of old-fashioned, homey bread that a few people were lucky enough to grow up eating, and everyone else wishes they had. It's wholesome and filling and about as far from Wonder Bread as a basic white sandwich bread can get. I've watched people who claim they never eat white bread gobble this stuff up.

Even if what you really want to bake are hearty whole grain sandwich breads, I encourage you to master a plain white loaf first. While delicious just as it is, Farmhouse White is an ideal building block bread.

Once you're comfortable with the basic formula you can, if desired, go on to experiment by adding other ingredients to the dough. This can be a lot of fun, as even a slight change will often give you a completely different loaf.

For instance, tossing in just a half cup each of wheat bran and oat bran in place of one cup of the flour creates a pleasant variation that's especially nice toasted. If you replace the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour(which is 100% whole grain flour that is made from a 'lighter' variety of wheat) you'll end up with a healthier, heartier bread that still tastes more like white than whole wheat—perfect for those picky eaters.

Here are a few other things you could do:

—Substitute one cup of cracked wheat, cornmeal, polenta, or rolled oats for one cup of the all-purpose flour.

—Try a cup or two of stone ground rye flour.

—Add a few Tablespoons of wheat germ.

—Make it with a cup or two of oat flour, which you can easily make by whizzing old-fashioned rolled oats in a food processor for about 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the texture you desire. Oat flour is also great in pancakes, muffins, and scones.

—Stir in some honey for a sweeter loaf.

—Turn it into cinnamon raisin bread by mixing cinnamon sugar and raisins into the dough, or flatten out the dough and sprinkle them over it when you're shaping your loaves.

—Toss in a few handfuls of chopped fresh herbs.

—Knead in several cloves of smashed roasted garlic, a few glugs of good olive oil (in place of the other oil), and plenty of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and tastebuds.

There are numerous factors that will affect your bread dough, including the weather, thehumidity, and the flour you're using. No matter what kind of bread I'm making, I always keep the amount of liquid a constant and vary the flour accordingly.

Keep in mind that whole grains absorb more liquid than white flour, so you may want to increase the milk by 1/2 to 1 cup when using them. I usually start with 5 cups of milk whenaddingwhole grain flourstoFarmhouse White.

Sometimes I'll need less flour than what is called for, sometimes more. Never add all of the flour at once; it's easier to knead in a little more flour than a little more water (though my bread buddy Kevin says that spritzing your dough with a spray bottle of water works great if you do need to add more moisture to it).

You can also use this dough to make dinner rolls or burger buns; just reduce the baking time. For individual rolls, place balls of dough a few inches apart on a heavy duty baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper (which you can reuse several times), or snuggle them up together for pull-apart rolls. I make rolls that are 2 to 3 ounces and burger buns that are 4 to 5 ounces.

A cake or pie pan will give you a nice circle of rolls that looks lovely on the table or presented as a host/hostess gift.

For burger buns, I shape the dough into balls and flatten them into thick rounds, then brush the tops with water and sprinkle them with coarse salt just before baking.

I've even shaped this dough into free form loaves of sweet French bread (meaning it's not sourdough) and baked them directly on a hot baking stone.

A lot of white sandwich bread recipes call for dry milk powder, but I don't see the point of it. If you want more flavor, simply replace some or all of the water in the recipe with milk. For years I made Farmhouse White with water, and it was perfectly fine, but now I always make it with milk.

According to Joe Ortiz in

The Village Baker

(an excellentbook packed with interesting tips and techniques for bakers of all levels), making your bread with milk will not only give a richer flavor, but also "a deeper color to the crust and a softer body to the crumb." And when used as an additive to French bread, "milk also helps to provide some of the flavor of a lactic fermentation that happens naturally in a sourdough process."

In

The Breakfast Book

, author Marion Cunningham states that milk, along with sugar and butter (or other fat) "give the loaves keeping qualities which help preserve flavor and moistness." Baking bread is a perfect way to use up milk that has gone a little sour.

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (3)

Ready for the oven after rising nicely in my favorite commercial loaf pans

This recipe makes three loaves of bread because in my opinion, if you have freezer space or friends, there's no reason to bake only one loaf of bread at a time. Bread freezes beautifully—and you won't believe how much your friends will love you if you present them with a freshly baked loaf.

I played around with different flours in this recipe and finally settled on a combination of organic all-purpose and organic bread flour, but you can use 100% all-purpose flour or 100% bread flour if desired. The best thing to do is experiment and see what you like.

As always, I urge you to seek out

local

and organic ingredients. They really do make a difference. I buy instant yeast in inexpensive

1-pound packages

and store it in a jar in the freezer, where it will keep for at least a year.

A digital kitchen scale is great for weighing ingredients, portioning out dough, and lots of other things. I love my

11-pound Oxo scale

and often use it several times a day. The pull-out display is awesome. It's also great for weighing postage and packages.

A few years ago I started baking all of my pan loaves on the heated baking stone that I use for free form breads, and the results have been wonderful. The bottoms of the loaves are nice and evenly brown, and I think that initial burst of heat directly on the pans makes the loaves end up even taller.

Just like with pizzas and free form loaves, you need to preheat your baking stone so that it's very hot when you put the bread in. Never put a cold baking stone into a hot oven.

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (4)

Farmhouse White Sandwich Bread

Makes 3 loaves, about 1½ pounds (24 ounces) each

Ingredients:
4 cups (1 lb, 4 oz / 566 grams) organic all-purpose flour

1½ Tablespoons* (17 grams) instant yeast

2 Tablespoons granulated or brown sugar or honey

2 Tablespoons safflower oil (or your favorite neutral oil, or melted butter)

4 cups (2 pounds / 908 grams) warm organic milk (or water), about 85° F

About 6 cups (1 lb, 13 oz / 825 grams) organic bread flour (or use more organic all-purpose flour)

1½ Tablespoons (22 grams) salt

* To bake an even better loaf, you can reduce the amount of yeast to 1 Tablespoon (or even less). This will make your dough rise more slowly, so you'll just need to increase the rising times. You can reduce the yeast in pretty much any bread recipe; a lot of bakers go by the formula, 'half the yeast and double the rising time.'

Instructions:
Mixing and Fermentation (first rise)

In a very large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, yeast, and sugar (I use a wooden spoon). Make a small well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the oil and the milk.

Mix well, then continue to stir vigorously, slowly adding 1 cup of the bread flour at a time and stirring it in, until you've added 3 to 4 cups of bread flour and have a sticky, shaggy dough; this should take a few minutes.

Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or

flour sack towel

(not something fuzzy like terrycloth) and let it rest for 20 minutes. (I keep stacks of

these

and

these

in my pantry and use them constantly all around the kitchen). This rest period is called the autolyse.

Add the salt and 1 more cup of bread flour and stir it in as best you can. Add another cup of bread flour if the dough is still too sticky to knead. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it with floured hands until the dough is soft and smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes.

As you're kneading, sprinkle a little more flour at a time as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands or the work surface. You want the dough to be as soft as possible without being sticky; you may not need the entire six cups of bread flour, or you may need a little extra.

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (5)

Sprinkle flour in the dough bowl, place the dough in it, liberally dust it with flour, and cover it with a damp tea towel or

flour sack towel

. Update:Or you can let it rise in a straight sided, food grade plastic container with a snap-on lid, which is what I do now. There's no need to grease or flour the container. Use a felt tip pen or piece of masking tape to mark the spot on the container that the dough will reach when it has doubled in volume. (Click

here

and scroll down to see an example.)

Set the dough somewhere that is preferably between 70°F and 75°F until it has doubled in size, about 60 to 75 minutes. Ideally, the dough itself should be between 70°F and 75°F. It's fine if your dough is cooler; it'll just take longer to rise and will end up even tastier.

On hot days I use cold milk to make my dough, and on cold days I heat the milk to about 100°F (don't make it any hotter or you'll risk killing the yeast). If you keep your flour in the freezer (it's the best place to store whole grain flours), use warmer milk, or let the flour come to room temperature first.

It's easy to check the temperature of your dough and ingredients with an inexpensive

waterproof digital thermometer

(which I also use to check everything from roasted chicken to the hot water for our beloved

aeropress

coffee/espresso maker). 2017 Update: Last year I finally switched from the instant read dial thermometers pictured here to

this digital version

, and I'll never go back!)

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (6)

When the dough is ready to be shaped, you should be able to push a floured finger deep into it and leave an indentation that doesn't spring back. Unless your dough is rising in a straight sided container, it can be difficult to judge whether it has doubled in size, which is the guideline most recipes use. I find the finger poking method to be more reliable.

Shaping and Proofing (second rise)

Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, flattening gently with your hands to break up any large air bubbles. Divide the dough into three equal pieces. The easiest way to divide up dough into loaves or rolls is with a

stainless steel dough scraper

, also called a bench scraper or pastry scraper. I have three, and they're always in constant use. Nothing works better for cleaning up the counter after working with dough or pastry.

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (7)

If you're using a

baking stone

, put it in the oven now and heat the oven to 375°.

Shape the dough into loaves. There are many ways to shape loaves; Igive instructions formy favorite method in this post: How To Shape Bread Dough into Sandwich Loaves and Some Simple Bread Baking Tips.

Place the loaves seam side down in greased loaf pans and dust them with flour (I use coconut oil cooking sprayon all my baking pans, and we also use it when grilling meat). How do I get my sandwich breads so nice and tall? I cram a lot of dough into the pan.

I love my

Chicago Metallic commercial 1-pound loaf pans.

If I want shorter, more square shaped bread, I use my

Chicago Metallic commercial 1½-pound loaf pans

, which are approximately 10"x5"x3". In the loaf shaping post mentioned above, you can see how much the shape varies when two loaves that weigh the same are baked in different sized pans. Both size pans are also great for baking quick breads, like my

Beyond Easy Beer Bread

, and cakes, such as this

Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake

.


January 2013 update: Looking for a commercial loaf pan that's exactly 9"x5"? Last year I bought

this heavy gauge USA Pan

, and it's really nice too.

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (8)

Cover the loaves with a damp tea towel or flour sack towel and let them rise until the dough springs back just a little when you gently poke it with a floured finger, about 40 to 60 minutes.

If you let the loaves rise too long, they may not have enough energy left to rise once they're in the oven, and they may even collapse. I was always so afraid this would happen that for years I unknowingly under-proofed my loaves of Farmhouse White.

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (9)

This underproofed loaf went in the oven a little too soon.

While the bread was still delicious, you can see that the dough had so much 'oven spring' that it basically blew apart the side of the loaf. I finally started letting the loaves rise a little longer and was rewarded with the more evenly shaped and visually appealing bread that you see in the previous photos.

Bake at 375° for 35 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and the bottoms sound hollow if tapped (you need to carefully remove a loaf from the pan to check this). Remove the loaves immediately from the pans and let them cool on a wire rack. The bread will continue to bake inside while it's cooling, so try to wait at least 40 minutes before cutting into a loaf.

Store at room temperature or freeze in zipper freezer bags. I like to use the 2.5 gallon jumbo zipper food storage bags, which will fit two loaves. Make sure the loaves are completely cooled before sealing in bags.

Still have some flour left? You'll find links to lots more bread recipes, including my popular Oatmeal Toasting Bread,in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©

FarmgirlFare.com

, the freshly baked foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and there's bread dough rising even as I type.

Farmhouse White: An Easy Basic White Sandwich Bread Recipe (2024)

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