Back in the 1700s in Quebec, people’s diet’s consisted of up to 85% bread, an inconceivable idea in today’s world when so many people are on gluten-free diets.
I am not one of these people, however. I love bread. Plus, I need bread for my kid’s lunches next week and have no desire to venture to the store when the temperature is -20 in Montreal today, and there are snowbanks up to my kitchen window.
Here is my recipe for Easy Artisan Sandwich Bread. Go ahead, try it! Even if it comes out less than perfect, it will still taste great and you’ll feel a flush of pride at making your own golden loaves.
BTW: if you don’t own a kitchen scale, buy one. For baking, it’s much faster to measure and more accurate. I picked my Starfrit scale on sale at the grocery store for $15. Whatever scale you buy, just make sure it has a Zero function, or it’s useless.
Easy Artisan Sandwich Bread
Preparing the Yeast
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (5 grams)
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar (5 grams)
Making the Dough
- 2 cups warm water
- 3 teaspoons salt (20 grams)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 6 ½ cups white flour (1,000 grams)
NOTE: for whole wheat bread, use 2 cups whole wheat flour (300 grams) and 4 ½ cups white flour (700 grams).
Put ½ cup warm water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of your Kitchen Aid, or any large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes, or until yeast has bloomed.
Adding Flour – Be careful Near the End!
Add 2 cups of warm water to the yeast mixture, then stir in salt, oil and 3 cups flour. Mix until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough. Slow down when you get to the last bit of flour – you might use it all, you might not. You might even end up adding a little more. Here’s why:
Flour changes with the weather. It absorbs moisture when the humidity is high (summer), and gets dry when the humidity is low (winter). To put it simply, you need more flour in the summer and less in the winter.
Don’t stress over the flour – the bread will taste good anyway – and after you make this recipe a few times, you’ll get a sense of how much flour you need.
Knead 8-10 minutes if kneading by hand, or 5 minutes in a Kitchen Aid on medium speed.
If you’re using a Kitchen Aid and the recipe is too large for your machine, divide the dough in half, knead each piece for 5 minutes, then incorporate the two dough balls together at the end for 30 seconds to 1 min.
Place kneaded dough in a clean, greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place free of drafts for 2-2½ hours. Best place is in the oven with the light on.
Allow to rise until doubled in bulk and finger pressed in the dough creates an impression that doesn’t fill in.
Punch dough down, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Fold dough over a few times, then divide in half and shape into loaves.
When shaping, keep the smooth side up and pinch the seam at the bottom to form a tight outer skin. This gives will the bread a higher rise and a better shape.
Place shaped loaves into two greased 9×5-inch loaf pans, seam side down.
As with the previous rise, cover the dough with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place.
Allow dough to rise until it is 1 inch above the edge of the pan (one inch at the centre of the loaf, not at the edge), 45-75 minutes.
Towards the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake bread 30-35 minutes until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).