Incredibly soft and light White Bread

Bakingyummies

Warning!: Today's post is a long one. Why? Because I've explained how I got such a soft and light bread, the most tender that I have made so far and the ways that you can as well. But still, if you're getting edgy to jump to the instructions, click here.

A plain, white and basic white loaf of bread is so versatile. Isn't it? You can toast it and slather with butter, jam, cheese spread, what not. You can make sandwiches out of it, use it for desserts like bread and butter pudding, or a french toast. The list is long...




A simple white loaf is the first type of bread that you should bake and master if you're planning to become a serious bread baker. And for this reason, though I have made it many times before and have improved a little each time, I still wasn't getting that pillowy softness that I was looking for. But not anymore!

This time when I baked this bread, it turned out to be really really soft and surprisingly, the weight of the baked loaf was at least half of my previous sandwich breads. As soon as I picked up the baked and cooled bread, I knew that this has turned out to be much better than all my previous efforts.


So what changes did I make to my Sesame Sandwich Bread recipe to get this fluffy bread? Well, I made three major changes. First during preparing the ingredients for the dough, second during the kneading and third, during the final proofing.

While preparing the ingredients, I used the Tangzhong method which is being used by bread bakers for a long time, but I've discovered it just recently. In this method, you dissolve a little flour out of the total flour weight with water or milk which is again part of the liquid called for in the recipe (this flour and water mixture is also called the water roux). After combining the flour and water / milk, it's cooked on a low flame till you get a thick paste. Once it cools, it's added to the other ingredients of the dough and kneaded. What this method does is, when you cook the flour and water/milk, the starch molecules in the flour absorb the liquid, swell and lock the moisture in. So when you add the water roux to the other ingredients, you already have the moisture multiplied which in turn gives you a soft, tender and light bread.


The next change that I made was in the kneading method. As explained in the Sesame Seed Sandwich Bread post, you knead the dough till it reaches the windowpane stage. However, I wasn't aware that what makes the texture of the bread smooth and soft is the fact, how strong the windowpane stage is. I came across this very helpful and useful information on The Fresh Loaf, a platform to showcase you bread skills and learn a lot about bread making.


Next was the proofing stage. Till now, I always proved my dough till it reached double it's size before baking it. But to my surprise, if you proof the dough longer it turns out to be softer! So the result of all these changes? An extremely well risen, soft, light, fluffy and tender bread. So what are you waiting for? Let's get on to make this beautiful bread!


Makes one 8 1/2 * 4 1/2 loaf

Recipe Source: Ingredients from Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart and the Method from The Fresh Loaf

Ingredients
305 grams / 11 ounces bread flour or strong white flour plus a little extra for sprinkling
3/4 teaspoon salt
25 grams / 1 ounce granulated sugar
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
25 grams / 1 ounce butter (at room temperature) or oil
170-190 grams / 6fl - 8fl ounces water (the amount of water you require depends on your flour) at room temperature

Method
For the Water roux
Take out about 15 grams / 0.5 ounces flour from the 305 grams / 11 ounces flour in a small saucepan. Add 75 grams / 2.5fl ounces water from the total water weight and add it to the flour. Mix with a hand held whisk or spatula until there are no lumps. Cook the mixture on a low flame until you get a paste consistency or when ribbons form in the pan when you hold the whisk or spatula above the mixture. Let the mixture cool.

For the Dough
Meanwhile in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together rest of the bread flour, salt and sugar. Add the yeast and mix. Now add the cooled water roux, rest of the water and oil or butter. Knead the dough using the dough hook, first on the minimum speed until the dough starts to form and then on speed 1 until the right stage is achieved (which would take about 10 mins). You can knead the dough by hand as well, but it's going to take a long time.

To understand if you've reached the right windowpane stage, once you stretch the dough and it forms a windowpane, try to poke your finger through it (start checking after about 8 mins of kneading). The dough should not tear at this point. However, when you poke your finger real hard, you get a hole whose edges should be smooth and not rough. If the edges are rough, knead the dough a little longer. If you can easily poke your finger through the hole, then it means that you have over kneaded the dough. Over kneading isn't going to a pose a major problem. Just that the texture of the bread might be a little rough. Don't worry, it takes some time to get this right. Keep trying.

I'm sorry as I forgot to take photos of these stages. I've tried my best to explain this without it becoming too lengthy or confusing. If you want to look at the photos and understand, please click here.

Lightly oil a large bowl and rotate the dough in the bowl so as to coat the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with a cling film and let it rest at room temperature until the dough has risen noticeably but is not double in size. Punch back the dough, cover with the same cling film again and keep in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and the bowl, knead for few seconds and divide into three equal pieces. Spray all the pieces with oil and cover with a cling film and let rest for 1 hour to remove the chill. If you want to make one single loaf, don't divide the dough, let it rest for an hour and proceed with the shaping as mentioned below.

Press each piece into a thin rectangle and roll it lightly like a swiss roll and let rest for 10 minutes. If the dough keeps coming back and doesn't stretch when you press it, let it rest for 20 minutes and then repeat.

Grease an 8 1/2 * 4 1/2 pan. With the seam side up, press each ball thoroughly again into a rectangle. Now roll it again like a swiss roll, but this time tighter. Place the shaped pieces with the seam side down in the greased pan, spacing them equally part. They might touch each other, it's ok. Spray with oil and cover loosely with a cling film and let to rest.

Once the dough is almost triple in size, preheat the oven to 175 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Bake the bread in the preheated oven till golden brown overall and sounds hollow when knocked on the bottom with your knuckles. Alternatively, you can check if the bread is done with a food thermometer as well. It should register at least 95 degrees C / 190 degrees F.

Remove the bread from the pan and brush with melted butter and let cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.

Enjoy your home made soft and fluffy White Sandwich Bread!

Storage Suggestions: This bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days in a ziplock bag or frozen for up to a month.

Happy Baking!!!



48 comments

  1. WOW! This looks so amazing and the steps are pretty easy to follow. May I ask what kind of oil is good? I am vegan and hope to either use oil or vegan butter for this recipe. Let me know. Thank you for sharing this awesome bread post.

    Cheers,
    Priscilla

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Priscilla. You can use any kind of oil. If you do not want a flavor, use canola oil, sunflower oil or any other flavorless oil. If you want a mild flavor in your bread, use olive oil, garlic oil or even herb oil. Wow, this gives me an idea, I'll use a garlic flavored olive oil next time I make this bread, I'm sure it's going to taste yum!

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    2. This bread recipe is so good in the almost year I have used it never got bad bread from it. I can't thank you enough Bakingyummies The trick to get it correct is easy just do every step you posted no short cuts :] You made it so we no longer buy bread and I make all our bread now and this recipe is the best bread I have ever had and my husband agrees it is the best bread ever :]

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    3. Thank you so much! I am glad your husband liked it since men are the kings of food (eating).

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  2. Your blog is amazing! Do you know that milk and milk products , causes deep pain and suffering for innocent cows...

    please visit the blogs , vegan india and peta india to know more about the cruelty of animals in india...

    you can make everything from vegan cakes to vegan muffins and vegan sweets to vegan icecreams...

    visit susmita's blog veganosaurus for tasty and healthy vegan recipes!

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  3. Thanks for posting this! I made this bread yesterday and it was the best bread I have ever baked! One quick question: how long did it take for the bread to rise once it was in the loaf pan?

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to know that this recipe worked for you, that's the whole point of this blog actually. Coming to your question, the dough in my bread pan took about 2 hours to almost triple in size and it's hot (about 35 degrees C/ 70 degrees F ) and humid out here. Please keep in mind that it would take longer if the weather is on the cooler side where you stay.

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  4. Looks great! Can I check with you... are you saying the kneading should take 15 minutes in a food processor with kneading hook? Or 15 minutes if you did it by hand?

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    1. Hi,
      Kneading in a stand mixer with the dough hook would take about 15 mins. I'm not sure about food processor since I've never kneaded dough using a food processor.

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  5. I tried it and it has that amzing taste like sour dough. My mom was surprised that it was actually white bread. She kept insisting its sour bread..now im confused. But otherwise..its a big hit here in my household!

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    Replies
    1. Nothing makes me happier than satisfied readers! I am happy that this recipe worked for you and your family liked it :)

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  6. how long does it take for the dough to rise after the second time making them into tight swiss rolls?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The dough in my bread pan took about 2 hours to almost triple in size and it's hot (about 35 degrees C/ 70 degrees F ) and humid out here. Please keep in mind that it would take longer if the weather is on the cooler side where you stay.

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  7. Hi.. about how long did the baking in the oven take?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sharon...should be baked anytime between 45 mins to an hour.

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  8. Hi,
    If I put all the ingredients to the bread-maker machine and let it does all the steps, will the texture be differ from the one using oven? Thanks

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    Replies
    1. I suppose so..the texture would be different.

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    2. hi, i really want to master my skills in bread baking. I have tried making pizza bread, hot dog/burger buns but hot dog buns turned out very dense and thick..i have also tried making subway breads, they also turned out dense and heavy...i dont know where i was wrong? If you can help me, would be a great help.
      regarding to this recipe i would like to ask you that is it ok to let rest the dough in refrigerator over night because i have read somewhere that cool temperatures are not good if we are working with yeast?
      thanks

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    3. Hi Fatema, there are a couple of reasons why your bread is dense and heavy. It could be because the dough was too dry, the dough should feel soft and slightly sticky after mixing. Secondly, the dough was not kneaded sufficiently, it should feel smooth and elastic after kneading. It could also be because the dough had not risen enough, dough should be double in size by the time you are ready to bake it. Lastly, your bread would have turned dense as the yeast would have been more than required. Too much yeast kills the yeast activity resulting in a dense texture.

      Coming to your next question, if you go through the method above, the dough has been refrigerated overnight. Cool temperatures slow down the yeast activity and does not kill it. This helps in imparting more flavor to the bread.

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  9. Hi - I made this last week and it didn't turn out well. There were a few things I noticed that contributed to a less desirable sandwich loaf: it didn't rise well in the oven, I could never get my dough to be strong enough to do the windowpane test, and I had to really roll the dough flat/ thin to roll it since we want to copy the pullman loaf method, which was from the fresh loaf. I knead the dough using my mixer for 15 minutes and it tears easily - I checked the dough in between and was not able to get it to the right strength. Final fermentation was done, as instructed, but once I get it to the oven, it did not continue to rise so I ended up with a sad looking loaf. It tasted very good, but the texture was not light at all, like yours! Do you have any feedback/ advice?
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi - Sorry to hear that it didn't turn out well. However, as I've mentioned above, it takes a few tries to get the right texture. From what you've mentioned, it seems your dough is over kneaded. Try going for the windowpane test after 5 to 6 mins, if it's still a little short of reaching the correct stage, continue kneading by hand and check after a couple of minutes. Bread dough rises in the oven only when there's still room for it. However, since you already let the dough rise to about triple it's size, it won't expand further in the oven. Reason that the texture wasn't light is most likely due to over kneading. Try making these changes and your bread should turn out fine. :) Do let me know if you still have issues with your bread and we'll work it out then.

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  10. Hi,
    I'm wondering did you maybe try this recepie without this "water roux" part?
    Does it have a major impact on the final results or basically the kneading and the final proofing do the job?
    Thx!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I did. Kneading and final proofing always do the job. It's just that Water roux method improves the texture quite a bit.

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  11. Hi,

    I wasn't able to achieve the windowpane stage; however, the bread still turned out wonderful! I used my kitchenaid machine and kneaded it for at least 20 minutes and was still unable to get it to your described stage. Anyway, this is the best recipe that I've tried so far (and I've tried many!)

    Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Hi, I'm glad this recipe worked for you. 20 minutes would be longer....next time you try this recipe, check for the windowpane stage after about 7 to 8 mins. I'll update the time on this post as well.

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  12. So am I understanding that you don't proof the yeast when you do the water roux method??

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    Replies
    1. Sorry for the delay in reply...you don't proof the yeast not because you're using the water roux method but because you are using instant yeast that does not need to be proved.

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  13. Made this this past weekend, using butter. While my bread didn't come anywhere close to being tall enough for sandwiches, the smell of it baking was incredible. It smelled like donuts. And the flavor of the bread was like the craziest butteriest dinner rolls - almost like those store-bought Hawaiian rolls. I'm definitely going to make it again, but I think I'll use the dough for burger buns or dinner rolls.

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  14. the use of the water roux is amazing - ive been trying to get my bread soft and fluffy for over a year now and finely came across this blog and i haven't bought any bread for a month now - i don't need to

    the tip of "window pane" to know when your done kneading works a treat

    thanks for sharing

    unj :)


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to know that this blog could be of help to you :)

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  15. Hi, just wondering if it will make a huge difference if I do not leave it in the fridge overnight? :) Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hi, it won't make a huge difference. However, if you try both ways, you will be able to notice the difference in texture.

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  16. Hello Deepti,
    Thank you for this recipe, it is the most successful bread recipe I've made to date! But, lately I've been having some issues - the last three times I made bread, it didn't rise like it should... Previously I've had wonderful tall loaves with tasty soft bread. After re-reading the above, I realized I'm kneading it too long - 30-45 minutes. I was trying to get to the windowpane stage, where the edges are smooth when it finally breaks - I've never gotten that result. Anyhow, this last time I only kneaded for 10 minutes or so, and it still didn't rise like it should. Any advice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Since you reduced the kneading time and you are still have issues, it could be because of two reasons: has the yeast or the flour passed it's expiry date? (I've faced this issue in the past). Also, if you are using fresh yeast, please check if the temperature of the water is more than it was in your initial attempts, it should be lukewarm. Second, is the dough feeling dry or difficult to knead than it was before? Lesser water results in a poorly risen and dry loaf of bread. Hope I've been of help. Let me know if you are still facing issues.

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    2. Hello again :) I've made bread three more times, first with new yeast (what I had was not expired but had been open longer than 4 months), then the following 2 times also with new flour (the flour I used previously was not past its date). I had slightly better results, but still not the tall soft loaves as before. Kneading time only around 15 min. But, I'm kneading with a bread hook in a kitchenaid mixer, and I'm not sure if it's actually kneading it well enough - the dough bunches up on the hook and mostly gets twirled around hitting the sides of the bowl a little. But it's always been that way. What are the largest factors in getting the bread to rise? Any other suggestions? Also, the water I've used is just tap to room temp - not sure if that is lukewarm enough. Thanks again.

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    3. Hmmmm, don't worry about the kneading process, it's fine. It's alright if the water is at room temperature and not lukewarm, since that is only going to increase the rising time. At what speed do you knead the dough? It should be minimum. Also, I understand you are using the same ingredients measurements as mentioned in the recipe above, right? Also, there could be a chance that there have been some temperature settings changes in the oven. Please check with an oven thermometer if it is remains at the same temperature as you've set it, keep checking after every 15 mins for about an hour or so. Coming to your question, some of the largest factors in getting a bread to rise - soft and supple dough (hard to knead dough indicates shortage of water and a very sticky dough indicates too much water reducing the rise of the dough), appropriate kneading (under kneading does not develop gluten preventing the dough to rise and over kneading tears the dough with the same result), enough first and second rise of dough ( once the dough has appropriately risen, when you poke it with a lightly floured finger, the dough will rise back slowly) and lastly, oven calibration has to be accurate. Hope this helps.

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  17. Thank you so much for sharing.
    It worked perfectly for me. I couldn't believed I'd baked a masterpiece, although I'm a novice.
    The instructions were very easy to follow; more than that, the introduction provided the all-important context.

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    Replies
    1. You are welcome :) Good to know that the recipe worked for you.

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  18. Hello! I was wondering how many slices this might make? It looks amazing:)

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    1. Hi! It depends on how thick or thin you cut them them but on an average about 25.

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  19. I could never get bread right until i came across this blog. It was always too dense and hard. Came across this blog and whilst i don;t do all the rolling stuff as i just want a simple bread and this is what my first load came out like http://www.clickasnap.com/i/gvbveymsxewyr4lw

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  20. Hi!
    This was the Most Amazing Bread I've made in 15 years... Definitely a keeper ... Was looking for this recipe since years :) Thanks a Million Bakingyummies :)

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  21. I made this bread. Perfect. The key...patience. thanks for sharing your step by step instructions. Good bye to my bread machine. The bread machine is easy but the bread is so dense.

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    1. Glad to hear that this recipe worked for you

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  22. Can it be baked in a breadmaker

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    Replies
    1. That will be a bit tricky since with these measurements, it will be difficult to know if the dough has reached the right consistency in the bread maker. Try this recipe in the bread maker but hold back about 1/3 of the water and add if required. Do note how much water you had to use for future references. It might take a couple of tries before you know the exact measurements. Hope this helps.

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