The Humble American Sandwich Bread

This post is a shout out to American sandwich bread (specifically, the recipe for American sandwich bread in the Bread Illustrated cookbook).

I will admit that I almost didn’t deem this recipe worthy of its own blog post. It’s just sandwich bread, after all. But then I decided that sometimes, the most exciting recipes are the ones that take something totally normal and turn them into something completely mouthwatering that makes you want to devour the entire loaf before it has fully cooled. (Just me? Maybe.) Case in point: my homemade kaiser buns.

Since my sourdough culture has blossomed (matured? ripened?), I have taken to baking sourdough breads (a regular loaf or an Auvergne crown) on Mondays. Well, technically, I start the baking process on Mondays – but the bread isn’t actually ready until Wednesday. Gotta love sourdough!

Now, if our bread consumption is above average on a particular week (such as a recent week, when I shared the bread with my book club), then I need something simple that will fulfill our toast and sandwich requirements and that preferably does not take three days to bake.

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The answer to my breadly prayers: American Sandwich Bread. The back end is a stump because I always saw off the crusty ends when the bread is still warm and eat them on the spot. Mmm.

Normally, my go to loaf is the Easy Sandwich Bread in the “Starting from Scratch” chapter. This dough is easy peasy – it only takes about two hours to throw together, I always have all the ingredients on hand, and I’ve figured out how to take even more shortcuts (skip the egg wash and the butter glaze).

But today,  I decided to mix it up a bit and try the American Sandwich Bread recipe in the “Sandwich Breads” chapter. Yes, there is an entire chapter dedicated to sandwich breads. Rejoice!

The ingredients in the American sandwich bread recipe are virtually identical to those in the easy sandwich bread recipe, except for the former calls for some whole milk (we had 2% in the fridge, so that’s what I used). I made the whole-wheat variation, although I realized at the last minute that the variation called for 3 tbsp of toasted wheat germ. I don’t have this, so I didn’t include it.

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Rise, baby, rise!

The process between the two recipes is similar, except the American sandwich bread calls for just a little extra at each step: extra time in the mixer, extra time rising, extra effort in shaping. While the easy sandwich bread batter is just poured into the loaf pan, the American sandwich bread is rolled.

The result? The two breads taste pretty similar, but I think the American sandwich bread has a slightly more polished look to it. (Photographed: American on the left, easy on the right.) When you slice into it, it just looks a little prettier than the easy bread. It’s really not that much more effort to make, so I’ll probably make this one again. After I’ve tried the other 9 recipes in this chapter, that is.

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4 thoughts on “The Humble American Sandwich Bread

  1. On a purely practical level, have you done a cost comparison yet? Now we know it tastes much better, but how does it compare pricewise?

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    • Good question – I have not. I would say:
      – At the grocery store, I used to buy somewhat fancier bread (i.e. not Wonderbead). I probably spend the same amount of money in flour and fancy add-ons (wait til my wheat berry post in the next week or two) as I did on fancy-ish bread.
      – I DEFINITELY spend less than I would if I bought the truly fancy breads at the farmer’s market or specialty bakeries (those are like $8 – $10 a loaf). I would compare some of my fancier breads to those – not this American Sandwich Bread one.
      – If you account for the opportunity cost of my time, I’m probably in the red.
      – However, if you ascribe value to the utility of my enjoyment of the baking process, we’re back in the black.

      A future blog post, perhaps?

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      • Yup, a future post. I know from baking your birthday cakes that you don’t do it to save money, but I am curious. And you also need to put a value on the flavour and the fact that you control the ingredients. Even if you don’t go organic, your still ahead I think.

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  2. Pingback: Fougasse: Looks Good, Lacks Substance | Out of Bounds Squamish

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