No bread at the store? No problem. Today I’m going to show you how to make white sandwich bread the easy way at home. No special tools required!
I’ve been baking up a storm during the COVID-19 outbreak. When all of this started, I bought tons of flour and a few pounds of yeast because I know that as long as you have those things, there are infinite kinds of bread that you can bake at home. Pizza dough, hamburger buns, dinner rolls hot dog buns. Later this month, I will show you how to make some unleavened bread (bread that doesn’t require yeast) like tortillas and pretzels. But today I’m going to share how to make white sandwich bread at home. Plain white sandwich bread is very versatile and you can conjure up lots of different lunches with some plain white bread. It’s a great recipe to try if you are new to bread baking. Once you get comfortable with simple white sandwich bread you’ll be excited to learn how to make other breads like bagels, ciabatta, baguettes, dinner rolls, buns, and pretzel bread.
Tools of the Trade
One question I get asked is, “do you need any special tools to make bread?” Not really. You certainly don’t need a bread machine. A bread machine just takes some of the elbow grease out of baking bread. You pop your dough in and it will knead and bake it for you and take a lot of guesswork out of baking bread. But let me tell you that baking bread isn’t as complicated as you might think. I was intimidated by it for years before I finally decided to learn. I was surprised at how simple it really is. You can make bread with just your bare hands and a loaf pan. After all, that is how people have made bread for centuries. However, if you would like to take out some of the work you can use a stand mixer with your dough hook attachment. That’s what I do. This recipe takes around three hours from start to finish, but nearly all of that time is rising and baking. The prep time is actually fairly quick.
The only other thing you need is a work surface. A well-cleaned countertop is fine for that. Also, you will need a loaf pan. I have found that metal pans seem to bake bread more evenly than glass ones. I recommend using a small standard loaf pan because freshly baked bread doesn’t last very long. Unlike store-bought bread, it isn’t packed with preservatives to keep it from molding. So I keep the size small and eat it quickly.
I will however, introduce you to one of the best $30 finds on Amazon. This bread slicer was one of my best Amazon purchases! You slip your loaf inside the wooden guide and it allows you to cut perfectly sliced bread every time. I wasted a lot of bread because I wasn’t cutting it evenly or straight. This solved that problem! It even has a board underneath to catch crumbs. Incidentally, I save the breadcrumbs! Don’t buy bread crumbs from the store when you can make your own for making meatballs and breading meat.
(Click on the picture to purchase)
PRO-TIP: Always use a serrated knife to cut bread. Smooth knives will smash your bread rather than cut it.
So the first thing you need is yeast. Personally, I buy yeast at Sam’s Club because they sell it in two one-pound packages and it is way more cost-effective that way. Yeast is also sold in packets. If you use yeast packets you will need one full packet, plus 1/2 tsp more. I highly recommend refrigerating yeast once you open it. You can also store it in the freezer. If you have yeast in your pantry and you aren’t sure if it is still good, you can do a simple test. Pinch some dry yeast and put it in a cup. Add a pinch of sugar and a little warm water. If it bubbles after a few minutes, it is still good. If there is no or very little activity, it’s expired. The bubbling is called “blooming.”
After a few years of baking, I’ve learned that bread flour is superior to all-purpose flour when it comes to baking bread. I can definitely tell that it makes a stronger, denser, spongier bread. That is because bread flour has a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour. That said, I make this recipe with all-purpose flour all the time. There is no need to buy special flour for this recipe. Use your all-purpose flour if that is what you have. Someone asked me if they could use wheat flour for this recipe. In all honestly, I have not tried it. However, I will say that wheat flour is much denser than white flour and so you normally use less of it. Personally, I recommend finding a tried and tested wheat bread recipe instead of trying to alter this one.
When you are done baking your bread and while the bread is still hot, I recommend buttering the top. Bread tops can seem a little hard when they are baked. A simple brush of butter is all it needs to soften the top again and it makes it more like the sandwich bread you buy at the store.
White Sandwich Bread
- Loaf pan
- Stand mixer
- 1 Cup Hot Water
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 3/4 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour or Bread Flour
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1.5 Tsp Salt
- In a stand mixer, add hot water, sugar, and yeast. Water should be very warm, but not scalding hot. Let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom (bubble).
- With your dough hook attachment on low, add vegetable oil and salt. Slowly add flour one cup at a time. Alternatively, you can mix ingredients by hand in a large bowl and knead by hand.
- Turn up speed slightly and continue mixing by hand. The dough should cling to the dough hook, but not to the sides of the bowl after a few minutes. Mix for another 3-4 minutes until the dough is tacky.
- Remove dough from the hook and place the dough in a large bowl and place it in a draft-free area of your kitchen. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. If you are worried about germs from the towel, spray some cling film with some baking spray. Cover the bowl loosely with it, then cover the cling film with the kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for 1.5 hours or until it doubles in size.
- Once risen, punch down in the center. Then shape the dough into a long oval. Tuck any excess dough underneath the bottom of the loaf.
- Grease a loaf pan. Transfer the dough to a loaf pan and cover again and let rise a second time for about an hour.
- When done rising, bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- While still warm, brush bread top lightly with butter before cutting and serving.
Storing Your Bread
I recommend storing your bread in a ziplock bag or an air tight container. If you bake often like I do, Amazon has some great bread bags that I use. I’ll drop the links below.
I’ve been asked before if you can freeze bread. In short, yes you can, but you will need to wrap it really well to prevent freezer burn. Also, make sure you freeze it before you it goes stale. Freezing won’t change staleness. If it was stale when you froze it, it will be stale when you thaw it out.
Alternatively, to save freezer space, you can also freeze dough that hasn’t risen. Make your dough and instead of letting it rise, freeze it. Once you are ready to bake, drop the frozen dough in a greased loaf pan. Get some cling film and lightly spray it with baking spray. Then cover the top of the loaf pan loosely with it. Layer a clean dish towel on top of the cling film. Let the dough thaw and rise for 7-8 hours. Then bake as normal at 350 degrees for 25-30 mins.
I hope you enjoyed learning how to make white sandwich bread. If you have questions feel free to leave them in the comments below and if I’ll try my best to answer them. Be sure to check out some of my other scratch recipes like Rich Fudgy Scratch Brownies.