Much of bread baking involves science but not everything. There is still a little room for art. And for mistakes. I was rather dubious about this bread recipe. I used a scale. I followed the recipe. It wasn’t exactly matching up with any of the accompanying pictures. It had few bubbles. It appeared dry. It felt off. I kept going. What other choice did I have? I hate wasting food, even sketchy dough. What happened?
It turned out great. Tight crumb, good flavor. I made two loaves with the poolish and it might be my new favorite toasting bread.
Be forewarned, like many home baking bread recipes, this one actually starts the day before with a simple poolish.
What’s a poolish?
A fancy French word (it’s pronounced pool-EESH, not POOL-ish) that sometimes goes by other names but basically means a pre-ferment of flour, water, yeast that sits out overnight and is added to the final dough recipe in the morning. The purpose to enhance flavor and help the bread develop a stronger structure.
Note, the sandwich loaf calls for using 100 g of the poolish. You will have leftovers. I stuck the leftovers in the fridge with some saran wrap and made a second loaf the following day. I did take the leftover poolish out for about an hour to warm up before I mixed it into the final dough.
A Master Recipe
The sandwich loaf builds off the master bread recipe. I’ve been baking so many no-knead hearth loaves that I’m out of practice with using the stand mixer for kneading. The master recipe gives general timing guidelines but I went a few minutes short. Overmixing makes me nervous. I figure better to go under than over.
On the plus side, the dough being a bit dry made it very easy to handle after the bulk fermentation all day in the refrigerator. My first loaf was a little loose, but I had the rolling and tucking (think almost like a cinnamon roll dough) down for the second loaf, but honestly didn’t notice a difference in the end result. I think the key is to get it gently in the loaf pan without deflating it too much.
Bon Appetit's Simple Sandwich Loaf
For the poolish:
100 g bread flour
25 g whole wheat flour
¼ tsp. active dry yeast
125 g warm water
For the master dough recipe:
300 g water
20 g sugar
15 g kosher salt
15 g extra-virgin olive oil
500 g bread flour
¼ tsp. active dry yeast.
For the poolish:
To make the poolish, mix 100 g bread flour, 25 g whole wheat flour, ¼ tsp. active dry yeast, and 125 g warm water (not more than 120 degrees) in a medium bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature 12 hours.
To make the master dough, transfer 100 g poolish to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and add 300 g water. Mix on low speed to break up (it won’t be fully combined). Add 20 g sugar, 15 g kosher salt, 15 g extra-virgin olive oil, remaining 500 g bread flour, and remaining ¼ tsp. active dry yeast. Mix on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough comes together and is smooth, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to high and mix until dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Stop and check the dough after each mix. If it starts to feel like rubber: stop.
Coat a clean medium bowl with more extra-virgin olive oil, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit at room temperature 1 hour (dough will be slightly puffy).
Cover with plastic wrap or a silicone lid and chill until dough doubles or triples in size (you should see a few wide bubbles on the surface), 8–10 hours. I let mine go a little over 8 hours.
For the sandwich loaf:
Coat a loaf pan with extra-virgin olive oil. Lightly flour work surface with bread flour and turn out dough onto surface. Roll dough over onto itself, applying pressure with your fingers to seal closed and tighten log. Don't fret over the rolling too much. I think it's better to preserve the gases in the dough than overhandle it.
Place dough in pan and brush with more extra-virgin olive oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and let dough rise until about ½" above edge of pan, about 2 hours. Mine took a little longer than 2 hours, especially the second loaf, it was almost 3 hours. Be patient. I waited to cook each loaf until they both were peaking over the top of the pan.
Preheat oven to 425°. Bake until golden brown, 35–40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cook in pan 5 minutes. Turn out bread onto rack and let cool completely before slicing.
The end result
It might not be the prettiest loaf but it tasted really good and held up wonderfully for sandwiches. I sliced and froze the second loaf.