Saturday, November 24, 2007

Simple Sandwich Bread

This is the Hertzberg recipe from the NY Times, that claims to be even easier than Bittman's NKB. Just in time to make turkey sandwiches. Unable to resist meddling, I used half whole wheat flour on the first test. I also halved the recipe. Both of these factors may have influenced my results. The bread was tasty but it didn't rise as much as I would have liked. It also didn't yield nearly enough dough to make two substantial loaves, as projected in the recipe. It made two very short and narrow loaves. I'm going to keep fiddling with it. It certainly is easy enough, tastes pretty good, and might make a nice soft sandwich bread alternative to Bittman's superlative crusty loaf every once in a while.

**Tried it again a week later, using the full recipe and only 1/3 whole wheat flour. I also baked it on a pizza stone instead of trying to fit in in a loaf pan like I did the first time. Lovely, soft sandwich loaf. Easy as can be. Yields 2 large loaves.

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (active-dry)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash the top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

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