Finally, sandwich bread

I said "Finally". I've been trying various recipes for a while, and have only been moderately satisfied with the results. I mean, I love the simplicity and the results I get with no-knead bread, but the holes in it don't make it the best choice for sandwiches. I've been looking for a way to make nice, fresh sandwich bread. After trying a recipe or two online, I resorted to my Christmas present, the classic The Joy of Cooking. I started baking early- last time I made bread, I got started too late and ended up rushing the rises so I could get to bed at a reasonable hour. This time I was prepared. I started with the "white bread" recipe described as "perfect white bread", first appearing in Joy in 1931. If it's been around so long, it can't go wrong, right? Wrong. I follow the directions so carefully. I really want this to work. When I mix everything together, it seems to "seize up". No amount of kneading fixed this fact, and I was getting mad. It was dry, flaky, and I didn't know what I did wrong, that 75 years of cooks before me did right.* I set it in a bowl to rise, giving it about a 15% chance of success, and turned my attention to quickly trying to get another loaf started. I was determined to do something right.

The next recipe in the cookbook was for "Fast White Bread" (page 597) - just what I needed. It required less preparation, and I was able to throw the ingredients together fairly quickly. When it came to kneading- Oh! What a joy! Especially compared to my experience an hour before! It was relaxing and smooth and everything as it was supposed to be. I was happy. The two rises went just as well- and I was patient enough to let them finish- my problem in the past.

At almost 10pm, I pulled the loaf out of the oven with pride. Finally, baking a kneaded bread went right. I left it to cool, and cut it for sandwiches while making lunches this morning. The texture and flavor is just right. The crust is harder than the store-bought variety, but that can be tweaked. All in all, I'm pleased. Finally.

* Upon investigation, I discovered this forum comment and this recipe correction on Joy's publisher's site. Figures. In 4,500 recipes, 0.2% have corrections, and I try one of them. So, it makes me feel better that it wasn't just me screwing up, the recipe was wrong. Very wrong. I'll have to give it another try later, with the correct amount of water.


ashley@twentysixcats said...

I have a random question... When you make something from an online recipe, do you print it out or just keep your laptop in the kitchen? And if you print it, do you save the printouts for future use?

Joanna said...

I print it out. typically, I copy & paste the actual recipe into Notepad before printing. This ensures I don't print off all the readers' comments, ads, and unnecessary parts of the page. This saves on paper & ink, as well as makes quick reference easier. I can include notes to myself, if I want to make substitutions or additions, in the Notepad document as well, before printing it out.

After the recipe has been tried and consumed, I decide whether I'll ever want to make it again. If I do, I copy it to an index card and file it away in my recipe box. (Or, in theory, I do this. I'm a bit behind on copying recipes, so I have a large pile of 8x11 sheets of paper by my recipe box.)

ashley@twentysixcats said...

Hmm that's a good idea, about copying it to Notepad. I've found I do NOT do well with the computer in the kitchen. Your hands get messy and the screensaver turns on... :-) We don't have a printer, and so I try to copy them down by hand but half the time I forget... I am much better with actual cookbooks. :-)

I actually have found recipes online are more difficult to follow. They tend to not be as detailed, or leave out steps and I'm left wondering what to do. For example, one recipe I was following said "Pour soup into bowl. Sautee green onions and celery. Add next six ingredients. Put in oven." And there were SEVEN ingredients listed! And when do I add the sauteed veggies? So confusing!

Hehe this is probably making you laugh. I have a lot to learn! How is your Joy of Cooking cookbook? Is it relatively easy to follow and clear?

Joanna said...

I think I might do a whole post on your question... the short answer- it is untraditional in that the ingredients are listed within the recipe rather than all at the beginning. There aren't pictures of recipes- its a lot of text. That said, the text is VERY informative, and it describes techniques very thoroughly. I also appreciate the academic discussions of various ingredients- it helps me understand some of the science behind my 'experiments'

Joe said...

Ugh, I've had that happen as well - at least you know it was not your fault! I just wish there was a place where you could find all of these "errata sheets" or corrections in one place!