It's time to start packing lunch for the kids, and it probably wouldn't hurt for us to pack our own lunches more often too. Sandwiches are usually all about what's between the slices; the bread is an afterthought. Today we're focusing on how to make homemade sandwich bread so your lunches are even better. Both you and your kids will look forward to sitting down to a delicious mid-day meal.
Homemade Sandwich Bread: Key Equipment
While homemade sandwich bread recipes may be quite simple, the right tools can help you achieve much better results.
You'll definitely need a large mixing bowl, whether it's the one that comes with your stand mixer or one from a mixing bowl set. Two loaf pans are also necessary, since most recipes make two loaves. Choose stoneware, aluminized steel or nonstick loaf pans, depending on your personal preference. The Pullman Loaf Pan from USA Pans deserves special mention due to its unique design. The cover slides closed to keep the loaf confined as it bakes, resulting in standard, square-shaped slices.
Three additional items which can be important in making bread, are a kitchen scale, a bench scraper, and a pizza peel.
A kitchen scale helps measure flour precisely. Flour packs like brown sugar, so it's possible to fit 1.5 cups of flour into a 1-cup measuring cup. Try a digital kitchen scale to keep your measurements accurate. You may find you use it more often than you thought you would.
This video from King Arthur Flour shows how scooping flour packs too much into the cup, where spooning and leveling gets it just right:
A bench scraper makes it much easier to handle dough and divide it into loaves. It's also handy for scraping chopped veggies and herbs from your cutting board into your cooking pan. Like a kitchen scale, a bench scraper is another tool you may soon wonder how you lived without.
Homemade Sandwich Bread: Get the Ingredients Right
There really is a difference between the various types of flours, and each will turn out a loaf that looks and tastes different. Joy the Baker gets into the details, but we'll sum it up by noting the protein content ranges from 9% (cake flour) to 14% (whole wheat flour). The protein in flour turns into gluten as it's kneaded, and the strands of gluten determine the height and density of bread.
Since we hail from Colorado, we need to touch on how altitude affects baking. This primer from Epicurious covers the impact of altitude on all sorts of baked goods. It can be quite helpful in making adjustments to everything from pies and cookies to bread and cakes. Scroll down for the details on how to get the best results when baking yeasted breads at altitude.
Homemade Sandwich Bread: Recipes to Try
With so many different kinds of homemade sandwich bread out there, it's nearly impossible to cover the whole spectrum. But here are a few that caught our eye, and they all look and sound delicious.
Julia Child's White Sandwich Bread
Anything that came out of Julia Child's kitchen has to be worth checking out. This recipe is one of many variations, and it's from the blog Dinner With Julie. The finished loaves look fantastic. We're also impressed by how good the dough looks, folded into the loaf pans and awaiting the oven.
Honey Buttermilk Sandwich Bread
We're intrigued by this recipe from Marye at Restless Chipotle for a few reasons: the buttermilk, the honey, and a secret ingredient we'd never thought to add to bread. (You'll have to read her recipe to find out what it is.) We love Marye's comment about punching down the dough, and her finished loaves look so light and soft.
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
We know kids aren't historically fans of whole wheat bread, but times are changing. Try this hearty sandwich bread recipe from the King Arthur Flour test kitchen. Even an avowed white bread fan agrees this bread is not your average whole wheat bread. Plus the cost breakdown shows what savings you can realize from baking homemade sandwich bread.
Finally, speaking of changing times, it's easy to turn any of these bread loaves into seeded bread. Simply brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle your favorite mixture of seeds on top before baking. Enjoy!