It was no slow creep into summer this year. Last weekend it was a brisk 50°F in the evening; yesterday it was 95°F. Today’s also looking like a scorcher. But summer has its advantages. There are cut-offs and fresh fruit. There are margaritas. And of course, trips to the beach. But there are also vegetable sandwiches, with their cool crunch and soft spreads held together with perfectly toasted white bread.
“What’s that?!” you scream. “White bread!!?!?!?”
Yeah. So, hey, I love white bread. I love it because it has sentimental value and for its intrinsic American-ness, but also because it happens to taste—AMAZING!
I also happen to know, like pretty much everybody else, that store-bought white bread is not good for you. In fact, most people, myself included, believe it’s bad for you. Which is why I don’t eat it. Instead, I make my own.
Once a week, I spark up the oven (it’s worth the hour of extra heat this time of year) to bake a loaf of bread that I slice into sandwich toasts for the next several days.
The secret to really great white bread is to add a little fat. My grandmother, in her recipe, added lard. I add butter. If non-dairy soy-based butter-stuff is your thing, add that instead. Remember, this is an indulgence, after all.
I also add some whole-wheat flour because I like the nutty taste, but I keep it at 25 percent of the total flour because—I still want it to have that white bread texture that I love so much.
Makes 1 loaf
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 stick melted unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Dissolve yeast with water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add butter, flours, and salt, then beat with a paddle attachment until the dough is elastic, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, forming the dough into a ball. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and form into a log, then place dough into a 9-by 5-inch buttered bread loaf pan and cover with the towel. Let the dough rise until it fills the pan and forms a top, about 1 hour more.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Bake bread until it is golden and hollow sounding when tapped, about 35 minutes. Let it cool to warm in the pan, then remove it from the pan and let it cool completely. Slice and make sandwiches all week long.