While I have definitely conquered my fear of working with yeast, I still don’t make too many yeast goods. I think the main reason is because I have this idea in my head that all yeast goods take an entire day (or more!) to make. In the past week, however, I’ve seen the same recipe for white bread on two of my favorite food blogs (here and here) and since (a) they both said it was a quick recipe and (b) I’ve never made white bread, I decided to go for it today. As promised, this recipe was both quick and easy! I always forget how wonderful homemade bread smells as it bakes and I was definitely reminded of that today too! We had some friends over today and as soon as the loaf had cooled a bit, I cut slices for everyone to try (topped with butter of course). Everyone, including me, thought it was delicious! I really liked the crust on this bread and while I don’t make sandwiches too often, I’ll definitely make this bread again. Maybe I’ll even throw together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which I’m sure would be great on this bread!

American Sandwich Bread
from Baking Illustrated, by Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

3¾ cups (18¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm whole milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 envelope (about 2¼ teaspoons) instant yeast

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Once the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain the heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Mix 3½ cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix the milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid. When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook, if necessary, about 10 minutes. (After 5 minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to ¼ cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form as mooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly. Coverthe bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

Gently press the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches. WIth a long side facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep one oven rack at the lowest position and place the other at the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty baking pan on the bottom rack. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the boiling water into the empty pan on the bottom rack at set the loaf onto the middle rack. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim into the center of the loaf read 195 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.