A Southern Grace: good, better, best

February 9, 2016

good, better, best


Loyal and longtime readers will know that I sometimes get on a kick and become determined to try new recipes or dishes until I get as close to perfection as I deem possible.

When I was in NY, the obsession was chicken pitas, and that search ended at Ali Baba, a restaurant which may or may not still exist (I hope it does!). After that, I became infatuated with apple cakes, trying all sorts of techniques, pans, glazes, and varieties of apple. I don't think I ever came to a conclusion for that endeavor, though the apple dapple cake is pretty darn amazing (and due for a refresher post!).

Lately, I've been in bread mode, seeking to find the easiest and best white sandwich loaf. This buttermilk bread was a long-time favorite, but for some reason unbeknownst to me, it sometimes randomly turns out dry and flat. Baker's error, to be sure, but annoying all the same. From there, I went to a basic white bread. It's good, but even though I made it several times, I always thought it was missing something. We really liked this potato bread, but sometimes I don't want to deal with any extra trouble, minimal though it may be.

I don't know if I'm ready to call this bread the very best white bread, but it's pretty darn tasty. It uses butter and an egg, a combination I hadn't yet tried, and the resulting loaves are extremely soft and fluffy and slightly dense on the inside, and with a very discernible and firm crust that helps hold everything together. The flavor is nice too--not too sweet, and actually kind of rich. It's the kind of bread I can rip apart and eat without a drop of anything on it...but toasted with butter is pretty fantastic too.

New Favorite White Bread
(printable recipe)
Makes 1 9x5-inch loaf (and can easily be doubled!)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (110-120 degrees F)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (56 grams) melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4-1/3 cup (30-40 grams) all-purpose flour
Add the water, yeast, and teaspoon of sugar to a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine and leave at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes until doubled in volume.
Add 3 cups of flour to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
Pour in the yeast mixture, then add the egg, remaining sugar, salt, melted butter, and milk.
Begin kneading, slowly adding the remaining flour until the dough forms a soft and elastic ball.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and leave at room temperature for about 1 hour or until doubled in volume.
When the dough has risen, punch it down and shape it into a log. Place it into a 9x5 greased loaf pan, cover, and let rest again at room temperature for another 30 minutes.
In the meantime, heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the bread for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
Leave to cool slightly in the pan before removing it and completely before slicing it.


Leslie Anne Tarabella said...

My son has just discovered white bread and he thinks its a fabulous new invention! If I tell him it can be homemade, he'll have me in the kitchen baking every day! Your bread looks absolutely delicious!

Gerlinde de Broekert said...

I know what you mean by obsession , I did that with banana bread. Last week however I switched to baking bread and I didn't like the result. I can see that I don't have to try any further, your basic white bread looks fantastic .

Pam said...

I like it when you experiment to find perfection. This white bread looks perfect to me!

Summer said...

This bread looks amazing! I would do well with a slice right now ♥


Marsha | Marsha's Baking Addiction said...

This bread looks absolutely perfect! I just wanna grab a slice to munch on!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

I love the fact that you obsess a bit. Makes me feel not so alone when I do it.
This sure looks like the perfect bread. Craving a grilled cheese sandwich now :)

Marcelle said...

I love baking my own bread, but I rarely have the chance to do it these days. Your new favorite sandwich bread looks fluffy and perfect and I bet it smelled wonderful in the oven too! :) Thanks for sharing your recipe!

Katerina said...

I am always in bread mode and try to find the best recipe! This is certainly one fluffy bread!

Angie's Recipes said...

Beautifully soft and smooth crumb...exactly what a perfect loaf of white bread should be!

Kate @ Framed Cooks said...

You have made gorgeous bread! I bow at your feet!

~~louise~~ said...

I too appreciate your obsession with getting it right, Grace. Your bread looks absolutely heavenly! I find it interesting that the ingredients include milk and melted butter. Would love a piece right now, nude please:) (as opposed to toasted:)

Thanks for sharing, Grace...

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I get obsessive too! And this looks like it has a very tender crumb to it Grace :D

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

There is nothing like homemade bread! I understand your frustration with recipes that sometimes don't work. I have a chocolate pear tart that sometimes comes out underdone around the pears and I don't know why. Was supposed to be posted for Christmas, then Valentine's Day. Sigh.

All That I'm Eating said...

I love spending time perfecting a recipe until it's just right and this looks so good.

Cathy said...

There is practically nothing better than homemade bread and this loaf looks perfect!

Helen said...

Thanks for sharing! This looks amazing. My mouth is watering.

marycressler said...

I used to make homemade bread a bunch when my kids were itty bitty. Haven't made any in a couple years. I NEED to change that! There's nothing like homemade bread!!!
And now I'm seriously craving warm homemade bread ;)

Carolyn Jung said...

Sometimes one wants a hearty, crusty artisan loaf. Other times, only an airy, fluffy slice will do. Yum -- this would be so perfect toasted, slathered with butter, and some great jam. My kind of breakfast.

Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder said...

It's so cute and fluffy I wanna die - Despicable Me

Lol. These look perfect - I could sleep on it. Bread is something I struggle with alas, but I'll check this recipe out :)