Thursday, 18 March 2010

Classic White Bread: BBA

The 40th bread in the BBA Challenge is Classic White Bread. White Bread is made from wheat flour in which the bran and often the germ have been removed. It is known under many names, including pullman, milk dough, pain de mie (bread of the crumb), and plain ole white bread. 

“There is no excuse for putting up with bad bread, particularly when a loaf prepared by hand and baked in one’s own oven is so little trouble and is likely to be so much better than most commercial products on the market.”  James Beard

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This version is an enriched bread. It is a basic white bread that is good for sandwich bread, dinner rolls and buns.

White Bread (Variation 3) made with an overnight Sponge

You can view the recipe here.

Making the Sponge

To make the sponge, mix together the flour and yeast in a 4-quart bowl. Stir in the milk until all the flour is hydrated.

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the sponge becomes aerated and frothy and swells noticeably.

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Making the Dough

To make the dough, add the flour, salt, and sugar to the sponge.  Then add the egg yolk and butter or other fat. Mix with a large metal spoon or using a mixer until all of the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball.  I used my Danish dough whisk.

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Kneading the Dough

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter.  Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes and add extra flour if necessary to create a soft, supple, and tacky not sticky dough.

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Fermenting the Dough

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil.

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Cover the dough with plastic wrap.  Ferment the dough at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

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Shaping the Loaves

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into two pieces.

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Shape the dough into boules.  Mist the boules lightly with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

Then shape the boules into loaves as show below:

Flatten the dough with your hand and fold in the edges to make a rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches long.

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Roll up the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.

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Pinch the final seam closed with the back of your hand and rock the loaf to even it out.

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Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled loaf pan. The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise.

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Proofing the Loaves

Lightly oil two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans and place the loaves in them.

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Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Proof the dough at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size.

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Baking the Loaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Brush the loaves with egg wash if desired and score down the center.  I brushed the loaves with egg wash but opted not to make the slash down the center.

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Bake the loaves for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating them 180 degrees halfway through for even baking, if necessary.  I usually just do this to ensure it bakes evenly.

The tops should be golden brown and the sides, when removed form the pan, should also be golden.  The loaves should sound hollow when thumped.

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When the loaves are finished baking, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

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I thought this bread tasted good with peanut butter & jelly and as a grilled cheese sandwich.  However, I like the light wheat bread better. I prefer a little more flavor and at least some whole wheat in my sandwich breads.  My youngest son really liked it.  He ate most of the first loaf. 

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I sliced the other loaf, placed it in a plastic bread bag, and froze it for future use. Now it looks like a loaf from the store.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

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I enjoyed this bread even though it is pretty basic. Will I make this one again?  Possibly, but probably not because there are too many other breads that I loved.  It’s still pretty good for a basic white loaf.


Thanks for joining us in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. The next bread in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is Whole Wheat Bread. (page 270 in the Bread Baker's Apprentice).


Happy Baking!


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