We regularly buy what I refer to as "poison bread". Poison because it is the softest form of glyphosate-laden, fluffy bread that bears no relationship to the wheat it supposedly came from. The organic brands tend to be either whole wheat, dry, or dressed up in oats and seeds to appear healthier and more deserving of their organic certification. (There's nothing wrong with any of that except that my family doesn't want anything they have to chew too hard.)
I used to bake my own, but it's always too heavy. I've been on a lengthy sourdough kick, but I aways screw up the timing and end up with a heavy, glue-y mess. So back to the drawing board- I bought lots of organic flour and ordered overpriced yeast online since I can't find it in stores. I was prepared to bake through ALL the recipes if I have to, but I found the perfect recipe on my first try! Statistically improbable, but it happened! The search for perfect sandwich bread turned out to be surprisingly short.
The recipe is from a reprint of Farm Journal's Country Cookbook, first published in 1959 according to the inner cover. This is only the second recipe I've ever tried from the collection, but clearly it's a classic. Both my kids loved it immediately. The only oddity is that it calls for lard, but in the farm setting this makes lots of sense, and since I have LOTS of lard, it makes sense for me too. I'm sure you can substitute oil or butter.
I was originally going to try recipes from a more modern collection, but they called for instant yeast, and I have only active dry yeast. Strangely enough, later my daughter pulled out a recent book on bread making and their sandwich bread turned out to be nearly the same recipe. The modern recipe uses 3 tablespoons of oil instead of the lard and skips the second rise. It also adds a glaze.
I used a mixer to begin this recipe, but there's a little kneading too. You can also make it with just a bowl and a spoon- but that's probably going to be a workout!
2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon lard
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (a package)
1/4 cup warm water
6 to 6-1/2 cups flour
1. Warm up the milk and stir in the sugar, salt, and lard. It has to be hot enough to melt the lard. Cool to room temperature.
2. Sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and stir. Add the yeast mixture, 3 cups of flour, and the milk mixture to a mixer, though of course you can always mix it with a spoon the old fashioned way. I did this in my mixer with the dough hook. Mix it until the batter is smooth and the dough "sheets" off a spoon.
3. Keep adding the remaining flour a little at a time until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. I only needed another 3 cups. Remove the ball of dough from the mixer and put it on a lightly floured surface. Leave the dough covered for 10 minutes, then come back and knead the dough for 8- 10 minutes until it's smooth and elastic.
4. Put the dough ball into an oiled bowl. Turn it to make sure the whole ball is lightly coated in oil, cover it with a cloth, and leave it for an hour or so until it is doubled in size. To check, stick your finger 1/2" into the dough. If the indentation stays, the dough is ready.
5. Punch the dough back down and let it rise again until doubled in size, this time only about 45 minutes.
6. Put the dough back on the board and shape it into two loaves. Put them each in a greased 9x5 loaf pan, cover them, and let them rise again for an hour until they're about doubled.
7. Bake them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. The top will brown quickly. Turn the oven down to 350 for the last ten minutes, and remove them from the oven. The top will be a deep golden brown. Turn them out onto wire racks and cool before slicing.
I wish I had taken a picture of my first sandwich with this bread, but I ate the whole thing before I remembered. This bread might make me extra fluffy! Something to consider unfortunately. The bread held together perfectly, but the contents were great too: mayonnaise, turkey breast, cheddar cheese, loads of lettuce, loads of basil, pickled red onion, and salt and pepper. SO GOOD!!!!!
I'll say it up front. I'm sorry.
In light of the fact that everyone in the continental United States already has their favorite banana bread recipe, I feel like I owe you an apology. When you realize that I dared to post a banana bread recipe that doesn't include chocolate chips, you might agree with me. However, this still manages to be some REALLY good banana bread.
I've tried it with different combinations of flour, and I regret to inform you that while whole wheat pastry flour isn't bad, white is better. Also, although my recipe card has no directions on it, I'm pretty sure I meant to cream the soft butter and sugar together before adding the other liquid ingredients- however, I completely forgot and it was fine, so I will skip that step in the future. This makes one loaf (DOUBLE IT!!!) and of course you can add chocolate chips, and lots of them.
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened or melted
3 mashed bananas
1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a big bowl. Mix the sugar, the brown sugar, the butter, the eggs, the bananas, the sour cream and the cardamom in another bowl. Mix it thoroughly and then stir in the dry ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a loaf pan with butter. Pour the batter in and then bake the banana bread for about an hour. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!