I hate to say this in case anybody thinks I am singing my own praises, but the sandwich bread I baked last night was really good. Finger-licking-good. Soft on the inside yet crunchy at the crust, and no preservatives, and it still tastes good this morning, as good as freshly baked from the bakery.
In my never-ending-quest for the best sandwich bread, I finally found the ultimate sandwich loaf recipe in Alex Goh's Magic Bread book, the book which I must have mentioned a thousand times, if not a hundred times in my blog during the past one month. Knowing how difficult it was to get this book delivered to Belgium (I bought it online, got it delivered to my mom's place in SG and asked a friend to pick it up and courier to BE), I left no stones unturned in making sure that I try out every recipe which is worth trying in the book.
Now, sandwich bread seems to be the most unexciting bread recipe that one should ever try, yet it is also the most challenging and daunting recipe for novice bakers like me. I took the challenge and spent practically half a day in the kitchen, dipped in flour. This recipe is neither the easiest nor the fastest way to make sandwich bread. I lost count of the number of hours spent proofing the bread, not to mention the 45 min spent in kneading the dough by machine and by hand. But everything is worth it, at least I got to eat my own hand-made sandwich bread and my arms got a good workout. ;p
While I was flinging the dough high up in the air and thumping it hard on the table, my 16 month old son was so amused that he started imitating my every movement. Babies are such incredible creatures, they know how to take advantage of the situation. Seeing that I was too busy in the kitchen to run after him, he started climbing chairs and fiddling with the plasma TV and putting his crocs sandal in the microwave. Argghhhh! How I wish I can let him have a hand in my bread making, but I know he will most likely be monkeying around, getting himself dipped in flour and messing up the already very messy kitchen. In order to show his involvement in my bread-making, he eventually left his dirty fingerprints on the rising dough while I was not looking.
Back to my bread. This bread required 2 dough starters, which had to be made in advance and placed in the fridge for at least 12 hours as specified by the book. One was the "gelatinized dough" which required scalding the dough with boiling water. The other was the "overnight sponge dough". I made a small mistake of not reading the instructions carefully and hence omitting preparing the 2nd dough starter, luckily I realised just in time and quickly made one and cooled it in the fridge for 4 hours before using. I suppose you don't really have to cool it in the fridge for the full 12 hours, as long as you allow sufficient time for the dough to relax. Dough, like humans, needs to be relaxed in order to draw out its full potential. ;P
If you have a few hours to spare, why not try out this delicious sandwich bread. I hope you will enjoy baking and eating this bread as much as I do!
Recipe for Sandwich Bread adapted from Alex Goh's Magic Bread
INGREDIENTS A (gelatinized dough starter)
150g bread flour
105g boiling water
450g bread flour
20g milk powder
9g instant yeast
285g cold water
120g overnight dough (overnight sponge dough starter)
1. Preparation of gelatinized dough: 150g bread flour, 105g boiling water. Add the boiling water into flour, mix until well-blended to form dough. Cover and set aside to cool. Keep inside the fridge for at least 12 hours. Preparation of overnight sponge dough: 100g bread flour, 60g water (room temp) and 1/4 tsp instant yeast. Mix water and yeast until well-blended. Let it proof for 30 min. Wrap it up and refrigerate overnight.
2. Mix B until well-blended. Add in C (cold water + overnight sponge dough) and knead to form rough dough. Add in A (gelatinized dough) and knead until well-blended.
3. Add in D and knead to form elastic dough. Let it proof for 60 min or until doubled in volume. (Check out the steps in my sweet bread dough recipe to see if the dough has achieved the right consistency. Remember to cover the dough with a greased clingwrap and put in a warm enclosed place, for eg an unheated oven with a bowl of boiling water inside.)
4. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and mould it round. Let it rest for 10 min (cover and place in a warm draft-free location).
5. Flatten the dough and roll it up like swiss roll. Let rest for 10 min (cover and place in a warm draft-free location). Repeat this process one more time and place 3 pieces of dough into a greased sandwich loaf tin (size 20 x 11 x 11 cm).
6. Let it proof for 50-60 min or until 80% full. Cover with the lid of the loaf tin. (Now I don't have a sandwich loaf tin with a lid, I only have a baking tin measuring 30x15x10 cm and another one measuring 30x10x7 cm. So I placed 4 doughs in the bigger tin and 2 doughs in the smaller one)
7. Bake at 220C for 35 min. For a large loaf like this, bake at the bottom shelf of the oven about 2-3 cm above the oven base. Remove from loaf tin immediately after baking. (I baked both breads for 35 min exactly and here they are, my freshly baked sandwich loaves)
Tip: If you want to maintain the freshness of the sandwich bread, why not do it the belgian way? Leave the bread uncut and place in a bread bag, secure it tightly by folding the opening a few times or taping with scotchtape. The sandwich bread will remain fresh and soft even the next day. If you want to be really "kiasu" (afraid to lose out) like me, you can offer the bread "double protection" by wrapping it up in aluminium foil and putting it in a bread bag.
This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.