Sandwich Bread

Before I acquired a Kindle, I was a great aficionado of bookstore remainder tables. Sometime in the late 1990s in the Maryland Book Exchange near the University of Maryland campus, I came upon a stack of On Cooking: Techniques from Expert Chefs(1)at less than half of its $49.95 cover price. A cross between a text book and a cookbook, it is perhaps the most valuable piece in my culinary library. (It is still available, by the way, in a 2003 third edition.) I adapted—reverse engineered, if you will—this recipe from one on pages 796 and 797 of that book.

Since I bake bread in different size batches on different occasions, I have taken to converting my recipes to baker’s percentages which make them easy to scale. I also change them to metric gravimetric units that are both more accurate and easier to work with that conventional American volumetric units. You do not need to become completely fluent in the metric system to use these recipes; just buy a digital scale that reads in metric units.

This cookbook lists ingredients in both US common and metric units so I only need to determine the baker’s their baker’s percentages. The eggs complicate the process a bit as I will explain. The basic recipe is:

Water

340 grams

Dry milk powder

35 grams

Sugar

30 grams

Salt

10 ml

Active dry yeast

15 grams

Bread flour

680 grams

Unsalted butter

20 grams

Eggs

2

Before I can convert those ingredients to baker’s percentages I have to allocate the constituents of the eggs. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a standard large egg weighs 50 grams and contains 38 grams of water, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and 1 gram of carbohydrate. For the purposes of this recipe we are only concerned with allocating the first two. You can either carry the remainder as “other,” as I have to make my formula mass work exactly, or just ignore it. I also convert the volume of salt to mass, assuming regular table salt. (Kosher salt has a different density so a milliliter of it is not the same weight as a milliliter of table salt.) And, because I use instant dry yeast, also called bread machine yeast instead of active dry yeast I reduce the amount of yeast by a third. So, the recipe with baker’s percentages becomes (with rounding):

Water

416 grams

61%

Dry milk powder

35 grams

5%

Sugar

30 grams

4%

Salt

12 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

10 grams

1%

Bread flour

680 grams

100%

Fat

30 grams

4%

Egg “other”

14 grams

2%

Formula percentage

179%

Today I want to make four 500-grams loaves, so my formula mass is 2000g. Dividing that by the formula percentage, 179%, gives the amount of flour I will need: 1117 grams. Applying the baker’s percentages, I figure out how much of the other ingredients I need:

Water

61%

681 grams

Dry milk powder

5%

56 grams

Sugar

4%

45 grams

Salt

2%

22 grams

Instant dry yeast

1%

11 grams

Bread flour

100%

1117 grams

Fat

4%

45 grams

Egg “other”

2%

22 grams

Since I know that each egg contains 7 grams of “other,” this tells me that I need three eggs. Those eggs contribute 114 grams of water and 15 grams of fat so I have to adjust the amount of water and butter accordingly. I also like to use about 15% whole wheat flour. And my final recipe is (with Imperial equivalents):

Ingredients

 

Water

567 grams

20 ounces

Dry milk powder

56 grams

½ cup

Sugar

45 grams

¼ cup

Salt

22 grams

1 Tablespoon + ½ teaspoon

Instant dry yeast

11 grams

4 teaspoons

Whole wheat flour

167 grams

1⅓ cups

Bread flour

950 grams

7½ cups

Unsalted butter, melted

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Eggs

3 large

3 large

Method

Weight each ingredient into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Knead for about 10 minutes on the recommended power setting. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface—it will be rather sticky—and with floured hands form into a ball.  

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the dough into the bowl and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap set directly on the dough and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing, punch down the dough and divide it into four equal parts. Form the loaves and place them in lightly-oiled pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is just above the sides of the pan.

Bake in a preheated 200°C (390°F) oven to 400°F (205°C) for about 35 minutes. (I use the convect pastry setting on my convection oven). The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 95°C (200°F) and 100°C (212°F).


[1]Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause, On Cooking: Techniques from Expert Chefs (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall: 1995).

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