Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wonderbread is Dead. Long Live Wonderbread: Three Hour, No Knead, White Bread

At the time of this writing Wonderbread is due to shut down operations in the US. This food product, lacking in any nutrition or flavor which includes twelve different kinds of rat poison American food icon will be missed by dozens, if not scores, of people across the globe. Happily for the picky toddlers and toothless elderly of the world, fluffy, soft, white sandwich bread (New and Improved! Now With Flavor! 100% Less Radioactive Shelf-Life Extending Preservatives!) is extremely easy to make at home.

If you really want to impress your sandwich eaters, give txfarmers soft sourdough sandwich formula a try. It's awesome. If you are like me, however, and your family goes through several loaves of sandwich bread per week, mostly eaten by picky children who don't appreciate the slight tang of sourdough with their PB&Js, and you'd rather not put in quite that much effort, try this. It's still tasty and soft, and a hundred times better than any stuff you can buy in a bag at the grocery store. Cheaper too.

RECIPE (makes 1 medium loaf)

300gr (or about 3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
195gr (or about 3/4 cup to 1 cup) 2% milk (lower or higher fat is fine, just add or subtract a bit of butter)
2 Tbs softened butter
1 heaping Tbs honey
1 egg white (not entirely necessary but it does make it fluffier)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant or fast rising yeast

1. In a large microwave safe bowl heat the milk in the microwave for 30 second intervals until it feels very warm but not scalding, about 100 degrees fahrenheit. If you forgot to take your butter out of the fridge earlier you can add it to the milk in the microwave.

2. Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix very well. You can do this with a spoon, but it's really fun to do with your hands. (alternatively, if you have a stand mixer, you can mix it all together until the dough forms a ball, about 10 minutes, then skip to step 4.)

3. Every 15 minutes for about an hour do a "stretch and fold in the bowl". That just means pick up one edge of the dough and fold it across, then move a little to the side of the first one and do it again, working your way around the dough until you've done about 20 strokes or until the dough resists and feels like it might start to break. The whole process shouldn't take more than 30 seconds each time.

4. After about an hour of this the dough will have doubled. If not give it 15 more minutes to rest.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, smooth side down. Punch all the air out and form into a ball with a similar motion as the stretch and fold, stretching the dough over itself a bit at a time. Let rest for 10 minutes.

6. At this point you can flatten the dough out into a pancake, degassing it again, and roll it into a log and put it into a greased loaf tin. Or, if you want to be fancy like me, follow txfarmer's shaping guide. Basically, you just divide the dough into three of four sections, flatten each piece out, roll into a log then let rest for 10 minutes. Flatten them out again along the seam and roll up tight. Place them evenly spaced in the loaf tin, they will meld together as they proof.

7. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until it has come about an inch over the top of the pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

8. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then tent the top with foil when the bread is golden brown. Bake for another 20 - 30 minutes, until it has an internal temperature of about 195 degrees fahrenheit or it sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom.

9. Take it out of the loaf tin and brush with butter while it's still warm. Let cool completely before slicing. 

After it's cool, you can keep it in am unsealed plastic bag at room temperature. It should last about five days or so, though it's never lasted that long in our house.


  1. great looking loaf, and a really nice blog. Question, did you brush anything on the top of the loaf before putting it in the oven?

  2. Thanks Dave! Nothing on it before it went in, just butter brushed on the top after it's out. If you were wanting the crust to be crispy/crunchy you could do an egg wash, but generally for this particular bread I like the crust to stay soft.

  3. Hi! Thanks for this awesome recipe. I tried making it today, and now it's cooling. Mine didn't turn out like yours. My loaf was evenly coloured, and the side crusts weren't soft. The inside turned out nice and soft but doesn't have as tight a crumb as yours.

    Am I doing something wrong?