This homemade sandwich bread, made with flour, water, yeast, and salt, is an easy and relatively quick way to make the best sliced white bread ever thanks to simple instructions and no-nonsense, give-it-to-me-straight, hand-holding advice. Perfect for novice bread bakers.
Homemade Sandwich Bread
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 11 H, 30 M
- Makes 1 loaf
In a large bowl, mix the bread flour, salt, and yeast. Stir them with your hand so they’re mixed evenly and you can’t see any lumps of salt or yeast.
Pour in the water, roll up your sleeves, and mix it all up with your hands. (Okay, if you really don’t care for the squishy feeling of dough clinging to your fingers, you can use a wooden spoon.) Mush the ingredients up real nice, grabbing the dough and squishing it through your fingers. You just want to get things mixed evenly, so all of the dough looks the same and there isn’t any dry flour left. It should be the consistency of really wet Play-Doh. This’ll take only 30 seconds or so. (If there is still some dry flour left in the bowl, add another 1 or 2 tablespoons water and mix it in. If the dough is more liquidy than a really wet Play-Doh, add 1 or 2 tablespoons flour.) You won’t be able to pour the dough, but it will want to slouch down in the bowl when you aren’t touching it. This dough is definitely a bit wetter than what most beginning bakers are comfortable with, and that is just the way it should be. Don’t fret.
Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap so moisture can’t sneak out and let the dough alone at room temperature. Let the magic happen for about 3 hours. By this point, the dough should have blown up to about twice its size but will still be sorta sticky.
Put the dough in your fridge and leave it there for at least a day and up to a week. (If you’re feeling ridiculously impatient, leave it in the fridge for 3 hours. That is the absolute minimum time it will take for your dough to cool, and this bread dough is much easier to work with when it’s cold. Besides, the longer your dough stays in the fridge, the better the flavor will be, as you’re giving the yeast time to create all sorts of delicious flavors in your dough.)
Generously oil the inside of your loaf pan as well as the top rim and the upper outer portion of the pan and then take your dough out of the fridge. It will be a little sticky, but don’t worry—this is the way it should be. Sprinkle a small handful (about 2 tablespoons) of flour on your countertop and on top of the dough in the bowl. Tip the bowl over and gently squish the dough out. Sprinkle another little bit (1 tablespoon or so) of flour on top of the dough so it doesn’t stick to your hands and flatten the dough into a circle.
Fold the left side of the dough into the center, then fold in the right side, and then gently fold or roll the dough into a log, and plop it into the loaf pan with the smooth side facing up.
Brush the top of the loaf with oil and also slick a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil with oil. Cover the loaf with the foil, oil side down, tenting the foil so that there’s room for the dough to rise about 2 inches. You want the foil to cover the edges of the pan.
Let the dough sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours. Put it somewhere out of the way so it won’t be disturbed, like on top of your fridge or on a shelf in your kitchen. You’re waiting for the dough to rise about 2 inches—it should peek above the sides of the pan but it shouldn’t be flopping out over the sides of the pan. (If you can’t bake the dough in 4 hours, instead let it sit out for just 2 hours, then put it back in the fridge for anywhere from 1 to 3 days—the exact timing doesn’t matter here.)
Adjust one of your oven racks to the middle position. Heat your oven to 475°F (246°C) and let it preheat for at least 20 minutes. (If your dough is refrigerated, take it out of the fridge when you preheat the oven out so it can warm to room temperature while the oven preheats.)
Take your loaf, complete with the aluminum foil covering, and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. Then open your oven, take off the aluminum foil, and get excited—your dough is turning into bread! Bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, being certain to check the loaf after 10 minutes. When the top is a nice golden brown, it’s done.
Use a towel or pot holders to remove the pan from the oven and tip the bread out of the pan. (if it sticks in the pan, use a spatula or butter knife to gently loosen it). Leave the bread on a cooling rack or lean it against something so air can flow around it while you let that sucker cool down. For real. You’re just gonna burn your mouth if you eat the bread when it’s too hot. It’s best to let it cool for an hour, but I know…just wait at least 30 minutes. Originally published September 2, 2014.
*What You Need To Know About Bread Flour
Yes, you do need bread flour for this homemade sandwich bread. Bread flour is similar to all-purpose flour. But the wheat used for bread flour has more protein than wheat used to make all-purpose flour and, as a consequence, dough made with bread flour is “stronger.”
Recipe Testers' Reviews
YES! I LOVED this homemade sandwich bread recipe. I loved how easy it was. And I loved that I was able to bake it in an unfamiliar oven in an unfamiliar kitchen with unfamiliar flour and yeast (yes, this does make a difference) and yet it still came out FABULOUS.
It does require some forward-planning, but it's worth it. Hands-on time was about 20 minutes through the whole recipe. I stuck to the resting times as suggested—3 hours at room temp, then 24 hours in the fridge, then 4 hours resting in the pan—before it was baked. I did not have to add any extra flour. The dough was definitely the consistency of very wet Play-Doh. The baking time of 40 minutes was accurate. I will be making this again.
This was not my first loaf of sandwich bread, but it is one that I will be making over and over again. It's a great beginner bread recipe—just about foolproof and very flexible with the timing. That flexibility is what I really like about this recipe. Very often, I will talk myself out of baking bread because I have other commitments that will prevent me from being there at the right time to complete the various steps of the recipe. By using the refrigerator to slow down the proofing times, if necessary, you can go back to the recipe when you can, as long as you are within the ranges specified in the recipe.
The instructions in this recipe are incredibly detailed and very, very easy to follow. Without any prior bread-baking experience, there should be no problem in getting a home-baked bread with great flavor and a perfect crumb.
The dough comes together very quickly, literally in a matter of minutes. It’s a bit messy to mix with your hands, but then you don’t have a piece of equipment to clean when you’re done. Once I mixed the dough ingredients, I did not have to add any additional water or flour. The dough definitely felt like wet Play-Doh.
This is an extremely versatile loaf which can be used for sandwiches or anything else.