Amongst commercially sold baked goods, packaged bread has one of the highest amounts of preservatives and additives. Being a staple, most households consume sandwich bread multiple, if not once, times a day. Many people believe that opting for bread that is ‘gluten-free’, ‘whole-wheat’, ‘zero trans fat’, etc. negates the ill effects of consuming processed white flour, however that is far from the truth.
Sandwich bread is one of the simplest recipes to re-create at home. Once you have found a base dough you like, you can play around with many ingredients like nuts, seeds, fats, fresh & dried herbs, etc. to give it an added punch of flavour. Any loaf made at home, even with 100% white flour is healthier than its packaged mass produced alternative.
Ingredients: White Flour (250 gms), Whey Water (50 gms), Buttermilk / Milk (100 gms), Sea Salt (1 teaspoon), Fresh Baker’s Yeast (1.5 teaspoons), Honey (1.5 teaspoons), Butter / Oil (25gms)
- You can use a combination of different flours by replacing not more than 50 gms of white flour with whole wheat flour / any other low gluten flour.
- If you are baking in a hot, humid climate it is advisable to store your flour in the refrigerator the night before and use cold water (8-10’c) to mix the dough.
- Milk allows the loaf to retain softness. If you are lactose intolerant you can replace the milk with water.
- Whey water strengthens your dough to give you a lighter loaf. You can make your own whey water (Cottage Cheese & Whey) easily at home the night before.
- Fresh Baker’s yeast is available in Crawford market and Kwalities in Juhu. I would recommend using fresh yeast over dry active yeast or instant yeast.
- You can swap honey for jaggery powder , brown sugar and / or sugar substitutes like Splenda or Sugar Free (as per their instructions).
- Butter / Oil adds fat to the dough which acts as a natural softener and preservative. Eliminating it altogether or replacing it with chemicals changes the over all taste of texture significantly.
- You can add any kind of filling to this dough. If you wish to add seeds soak them in equal amount of water the night before to soften it.
- Add all the ingredients expect for the filling in a bowl and mix using a dough hook attachment on low speed for 5 minutes and then 3 minutes on medium speed. If mixing by hand, create a well in the centre of the flour and add 3/4th of the total liquid (water + milk) into it. Slowly mix the flour with the water, adding more water whenever needed. It should take you approximately 15 minutes for the dough to come together.
- Add the filling and continue to mix for about 2 minutes (until it is well incorporated into the dough).
- To check if the gluten has developed conduct the window pane test: Take a small piece of dough and, using your fingers, stretch it out to the maximum you can. When held against the light you should be able to see the gluten strands. If the dough tears it means it requires more kneading.
- Leave the dough in a misted bowl and cover with cling film or muslin cloth. Allow it to rest for 1.5 hours. The dough should become one and a half times it’s original size.
- Divide the dough as per your requirements and loosely shape into a ball. Leave it to rest on your work surface for about 20 minutes and then give it a final shape. If you’re using a mould, place the dough into it and pat it down slightly. Cover the mould with its lid or cling film.
- Let the shaped dough proof for about 45-1 hour. Brush the top with milk and sprinkle some dried oats / seeds. Pre heat the oven to 250’c.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown on top (cover with foil midway if it starts browning too much). You know your loaf is ready when you hear a hollow sound when tapping the bottom.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 40 minutes before cutting.