The weekend is over and as you turn your thoughts to the upcoming week and the lunches you need to pack come Sunday morning (in Israel) or Monday morning (everywhere else), if you’re like me, you always grumble, “Crap, we’re out of bread.”
It seemed like we were constantly running to stores in search of a good loaf of sandwich bread at all hours! And we are picky about our bread, as any former New Yorkers are wont to be. We like those artisanal breads you have to go to a special bakery to buy. We are not big fans of the taste or additive levels of supermarket bread. And don’t even get me started on pita! Basically unless pita is “baked-it-fresh-this-very-moment” fresh, I will absolutely make a disastrous mess of trying to stuff sandwich fillings inside of it. I think you have to be Middle Eastern born and bred to make proper pita sandwiches.
So one day at the airport, with time to spare before our flight, we wandered into the Duty Free electronics store, as one tends to do. As my roaming eyes came to rest on a bread machine, I saw a solution to my constant “we’re out of bread” conundrum.
I purchased the Morphy Richards 900g Breadmaker several years ago now and it has been in use literally 5 days a week since. My recipe and technique have changed over the years, but today I want to share with you the sandwich bread I make daily for my family, and exactly how I do it.
A few things first:
- You will notice that I use a combination of 1 cup semolina (solet), 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1 cup high-gluten bread flour (kemach lechem). For me, in this machine, this gives the consistency of loaf we prefer. The semolina gives the loaf a nice crust and airy texture and the high-gluten bread flour gives it beautiful lift and light, soft crumb. I’m sure you can play around with any mix of flours – I have used part spelt, part ground oats, part chickpea flour, etc – as long as your total is 4 cups.
- You will also notice that I use 2 tablespoons of sugar in my bread and many of you will write me nasty letters about the evils of sugar. I agree that sugar is very bad for you. But we are talking here about 2 Tbsp in a loaf that makes 12-14 slices of bread. Do the math – it ends up being a VERY small amount of sugar in each slice. Don’t lose the forest for the orthorexic trees! And besides, as I understand the science of baking, the yeast actually eats a good part of that sugar which is what gives your bread the rise. That said, I’m sure you could cut it to 1 Tbsp if that makes you feel better. You could also use a less processed form of sugar such as molasses or maple syrup but scientifically, it’s pretty much the same to your body.
- I don’t bake in the machine. You CAN put the ingredients in your bread machine, set it and forget it, and it will mix, rise, and bake the entire thing. I did that, but found that, firstly, the machine’s canister makes an awkward shape and size of bread for school kid lunch sandwiches. Secondly, I didn’t like losing what amounted to several slices on each end of the loaf – one side for the baked-in mixing paddle you have to dig out, which leaves a big hole, and the top side that bakes into a domed shape. So, I put the ingredients in the machine, set it to a 1 1/2 hour mixing and rising cycle called “Dough”, then remove the dough, plop it into a normal-sized loaf pan and bake it in the oven. Why use the machine at all you ask? Because the machine kneads the dough for about 30 minutes and if you have ever tried to knead dough for 30 minutes, you know why I would prefer to avoid it. Honestly, I used to make bread that was the consistency of a door-stop. It was awful. This machine kneads and rises the dough so beautifully, my bread could now win prizes for lightness and perfection!
- I LOVE LOVE LOVE having fresh baked bread in the house every day. It smells amazing and makes my family feel very happy. I also make our weekly challah dough in the machine and take it out to braid it. It’s amazing. My bread machine is my most used and most loved kitchen appliance! When this one kicks the bucket, I will definitely but another one. Recommended!
- 2 Tbsp sugar or any sweetener of your choice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups wrist-warm water
- 1 cup semolina (solet)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup high-gluten bread flour (kemach lechem)
- 2 1/2 - 3 tsp dry yeast
- Place the ingredients in the canister of your bread machine in the exact order listed above.
- Turn the machine to the dough cycle only. (You can set it to whole wheat bread if you would like it to bake right in the machine (see my objections above)).
- When the 1 1/2 hour cycle is over and the timer rings, spray a loaf pan of the size you prefer with cooking spray.
- Spill a dollop of olive oil on the counter.
- Spread the oil around a little, coating your hands and your work space.
- Turn the dough out of the canister on to the oiled work space.
- Roll it tightly into a log, the length of your loaf pan.
- Place the loaf in the pan, seam-side down.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
- At the end of the 30 minutes, uncover the loaf and place it in a COLD oven.
- Turn the oven on to 180C (350F) and bake for 30 minutes.
- Turn loaf out on to a cooling rack to cool.