Long blue, red or black painted nails with slender fingers, my mother is making bread. She is throwing ingredients together with no sign of a torn page recipe or a book opened anywhere. In a tiny post war council house kitchen with a shitty oven and barely any counter space Mummy baked many loaves of hearty grain filled, stick to your ribs fabulous bread that to this day I love the kind of. It was the kind of bread that would dull your serrated blade and dislocate your jaw if you bit down too hard in the wrong place.
But sometimes I want a regular white loaf, something less characterful, like an easier companion, able to carry ingredients and take a back seat. This easy sandwich loaf does just that. When it’s not enveloping the flakey, crispy, salty, buttery fish fingers from last months recipe, this bread is so good for any kind of sandwich. A day later it’s perfect for toast, salted butter mind you and make sure the toast is hot when you butter it so as it soaks in you think it might just need a little bit more.
Everyday Sandwich Loaf
Makes 1 loaf
*If you do not own a kitchen scale, stop what you’re doing and acquire one immediately. It’s simply a must for baking, and arguably a better way to measure ingredients for any recipe.
95 g boiling water
140 g cold water
132 g sour cream
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons fast acting yeast
550 g bread flour, plus additional for dusting
Butter for kneading and greasing tin
Place a large bowl atop your kitchen scale.* With a fork, mix in the sour cream, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the flour and mix until the dough just comes together. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit for 10 minutes while you make a cup of tea.
Return to the dough with a butter-greased work surface and hands. Knead the dough for 2 minutes. Butter the inside of the bowl before returning the dough to it, covering again with the damp towel. Do this twice more - waiting 10 minutes before kneading the dough and returning to the bowl and covering. After the third kneading, leave the dough covered in the least draughty spot in the house for 1 hour.
Butter a 8x4-inch loaf pan, line with parchment paper and set aside. Return the dough to your work surface and pat it down to about 1-inch thick. Roll the dough like a jelly roll and place it in the loaf pan, tucking the ends under if needed so the top is smooth. Cover and set aside to proof until nearly but not quite doubled in size.
Heat oven to 390F. Give the dough a light dusting of flour before baking for 45 minutes. Remove loaf from pan immediately and cool on wire rack. (If you wish to test the doneness, tap the underside of the loaf with a wooden spoon - if it sounds hollow, it’s done.)
Once you’ve cut into the loaf, it will keep for two or three days wrapped well in a towel on the counter. If you don’t quite finish it before it goes stale, toss the remainder into your trusty food processor and make homemade bread crumbs.
Recipe provided by the lovely Joanna Miller of Good Pepper
Watch out next month for the final recipe to complete the bomb Fish Finger Sandwich….