Friday, October 17, 2014

The Quest for the Perfect Sandwich Loaf - A Guest Post

Some of you may know that in addition to writing I also greatly enjoy spending some time in the kitchen.  In fact, my new daily routine is to wake up, hit the bathroom and then head into the kitchen to make something to eat.  Oh don't be like that!  I wash my hands first.  Whenever I make something potentially messy (such as baking bread) I always be sure to don my chef jacket.  Again, don't think I'm some master chef because I own a chef jacket.  I actually own two because they keep my T-shirts from getting all jacked up when I cook.  Initially my roommates thought my jacket was hilarious, but now when they see me buttoning it up they gather around in mild awe to speculate what I'm cooking.  I'm still waiting for someone to realize I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time...  Recently I was asked about my new sandwich bread recipe.  I still have some tweaking to do, but if you're looking for a loaf of fresh bread that can hold up as a sandwich (and for super cheap, too) then this is a fine place to start.

The Perfect Loaf
source: Amused Muse 

What is it like?
The original recipe touted that this bread was "What Wonder Bread wished it was."  I have to say the finished product is pretty impressive, I'll give it that.  It has a small, solid crumb that holds up pretty well in a sandwich without making the bread really dense feeling.  The crumb, for those of you that don't know, is the size of the air pockets inside a loaf of bread.  Ideally a good sandwich loaf has a small sturdy crumb that you could slice and not have gaping holes going through it.  That would make for a very messy PB&J, let me tell you.  The smaller crumb also gives it some structural integrity to make it hold up in the middle with lots of toppings.  The crust on this particular loaf also comes out fairly soft (or it does now anyway) so you're not trying to bite through a real tough strip around the edges.

Look at that big 'ole crumb
source: Christopher Harrison

What Adjustments Have Been Made?
The first time I made this the crust turned out rather tough.  The crumb was pretty solid but could have used a little more baking time in my opinion.  The second go-around I got an amazing final rise, but when I cut the first slice I quickly realized why.  The bread had developed this long cavernous bubble right below the top crust that ran the length of the loaf.  This was the result (I'm guessing) of not actually kneading the dough before shaping it.  The flavor of the bread came out divine though.  I pan toasted a slice with some butter and topped it with a fried egg like usual and my eyes literally rolled back in my head at the first bite.  Do you need to pan toast home-made bread?  No, I just do it because I'm a super manly lumberjack kinda guy that takes satisfaction in doing everything the hard way.  Also because I don't own a toaster.

I am so trying this soon!
source: Jeffrey W

So What's the Recipe? 
Intimidating, that's what it is.  It's not that difficult and you don't really need to know what you're doing either.  I mean, come one, I made it.  I would also like to point out that I went into great detail with the instructions (and added in some humor) which makes the recipe quite a bit longer than it originally was.  It's also a work in progress so expect slight changes and notes to be added in the more I make it.  Hopefully by the time I'm done it will be the recipe for the ultimate loaf of home-made sandwich bread!  You can also find it in the recipe box on the menu bar up top.  Happy baking and try not to burn the house down!

The Amused Muse is a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none bachelor, cook, writer, parent and full-time (and possibly slightly mad) night owl who writes for Muse's Mixed Nuts.  This post first appeared on Muse's Mixed Nuts.  You can also find him on Google+ or hiding in the pantry waiting to scare the pants off of someone.
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