Wheat sandwich bread

I've had a love affair with soft squishy white bread since since I was about 1 [note 1].  Sunbeam was best, but Wonder was ok in a pinch.  The crust is merely a darker version of the middle, it has a twinkie-long shelf life and it practically withers in the presence of moisture, but it's still a fine substrate for bolony with mustard, pb&j or sopping up bbq sauce.  Y'all like it more than you'll admit.

But, it is an enigma of baking.  I can buy this stuff if I want and occasionally do, but it is the challenge of recreating a recipe based on my perception and palate that drives the pursuit to duplicate it in my kitchen.  More importantly, once I get the gist of the soft bread, I could elevate it to something special and that is the reason for this post.  I have and I did and now I will share with you.

This is a straight dough method, mixing, rises and proof is as described in  Wayne Gisslen's Professional Baking.  Basically toss all ingredients in and mix and knead.  The big break in this loaf is the use of a softer (lower protein) flour to to blend with the unbleached white to afford a softer loaf.  Note: My preferences are to use a scale to weigh ingredients, a bread machine to knead, and I use instant (aka fast rising, any brand except Kroger) active dry yeast [note 2].

This particular loaf is the white bread version using cake flour.  The crumb and interior is the same for the whole wheat pastry flour variant.  When I get an image of the wheat, I'll replace it.

Add the following, any order to the chamber of a bread machine or a bowl:
water, about room temperature, 180 grams
salt, 5 grams
vegetable oil, 20 grams
sugar, 10 grams
instant active dry yeast, 1 pkt, 7 grams
unbleached white flour, Montana Sapphire, 225 grams
whole wheat pastry flour, 75 grams

Mix and knead by hand for 5 minutes or spin about 5 minutes in a bread machine's dough cycle.
Plop out and let rise for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Punch down and round the dough, let rest about 5 minutes.
Form into a oblong loaf big enough to just fit in a 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan lined with parchment.
Let rise/proof in this pan about 20-25 minutes uncovered (uncovered so the surface dries out, this will enable a cleaner slash when docking the dough) [note 4]
Slash once across the length with a knife (I use serrated) and place in oven to bake 30 minutes.
Remove from the pan and let cool on rack about 30 minutes before jumping in.

1. I was raised on great bread; Esposito's scali was the staple in our house.  A thin-sliced scali with mortadella and fine hams was how we survived, but since I was one of 4 hungry kids, my mother used white bread when necessary to fill the bellies of the masses.

2. When communicating a recipe, I like it to be specific so the person has a good chance of hitting the same success I did.  Using a yeast with perfect integrity in a small packet is as close as I can get to a reproducible source to convey to someone conducting the prep for the first time.  I have no idea how a 3 month old jar of bulk yeast will behave, nor a 6 month old, nor any other yeast.  Given the rigorous specifications a company must comply with, using a small quantity with perfect airtight packaging is the best a home baker, with no micro lab, can do to insure a consistent starting point [note 3] (sorry Rachel).

3. I can almost guarantee 9 out of 10 will completely disregard my babbling on yeast, my mother is one of those 9 because she "has been baking forever."  Whenever I get an email that declares the procedure "didn't work" they all admit to a significant change in the method because they felt it was unnecessary; I'm off the hook in that case, to repeat something, you must do the control or you have no argument.

4. This is a fast rise loaf.  Don't over proof or the final crumb will be grainy instead of feathery.  It will also have pretty darn nice oven spring.  Longer rise is not always better, it depends on the loaf.
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