Happy Accident Sandwich Bread all started on my birthday when I was asked to make The Kneady Homesteader’s Golden Pull Apart Honey Butter Buns and bring them to my birthday dinner WHICH I did not mind doing at all! First, I LOVE to bake. Second, I LOVE when my family flips out over something so much that they request it (makes me all warm & fuzzy inside — like I am doing something right), and third, I just happen to ADORE those rolls. Oh good heavens! They are to die for! SO … I eagerly agreed to make a batch and bring them to my birthday dinner to round out my MIL’s awesome pot roast with potatoes, onions, & carrots. My favorite meal ever!
BUT I screwed up the rolls! The Golden Pull Apart Honey Butter Buns call for 1/2 cup of water to dissolve the yeast and I poured in 1 1/2 cups but did not notice until it was too late & everything else was already in the mixer. Ugh. I thought I had a disaster on my hands! That is three times the right amount of water so needless to say, I had a sticky, messy dough ball I simply could not manage. I was not going to risk the rolls on a special family day so I started a new batch of those as soon as I realized what happened and I got this mess out of the KitchenAid bowl. So the rolls were still forthcoming, but in attempt to save the batch and do something with it, I added another 1/2 teaspoon of yeast and measured out a couple extra cups of flour and started adding it, a little at a time until it “looked & felt right.” I tracked on paper exactly how much I added. Then, rather than making rolls with this big ol’ dough ball, I took this Happy Accident dough and made it into two loaves and let it rise as I normally would.
It was WONDERFUL but a just a bit too airy and would not hold mayo or mustard well. Well, that is probably because I didn’t get all the bubbles out between the rises. So, I decided to try it again and make that same mistake on purpose, do a better job getting all the bubbles out, and if it worked, call it “Happy Accident Sandwich Bread.” I did. It did. Only one thing went wrong this time and was my own stupid fault . . . I cut one of the two loaves that evening. BIG MISTAKE. I should have let it cool overnight.
Now, all that said, I asked my Facebook friends whether I should test the recipe again and most said yes, test it again. So I did. And this time, I let it cool OVERNIGHT. I am never looking back! No matter HOW tempted I may be, I will let it cool overnight! However, I will try making it with freshly ground flour and whole wheat flour. I will also try it with raisins and cinnamon and some other flavorings, but when we need plain white sandwich bread, this will be my go-to recipe from now on.
Let me say one more thing . . . I wrote this recipe with the NOVICE bread baker in mind and included steps and details that experienced bakers already know! So yes, it looks like a lot of steps and a lot of work, but really it isn’t. And if you are new to baking homemade sandwich bread, you will appreciate all this detail. So without further ado, allow me to introduce Jo’s Happy Accident Sandwich Bread!
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- • 2 ½ t instant (quick rise) yeast (if substituting with active dry yeast, see below)
- • 1 ½ cups warm water (about 110°F)*
- • 5 - 5½ cups all purpose flour (separated)
- • 2 T sugar
- • 3 T dry (powdered) milk
- • 1 ½ t salt
- • 4 T softened butter (Do NOT substitute with margarine! Use REAL butter.)
- • 2/3 c warm water mixed with ¼ c instant potato flakes (yes, you can substitute leftover plain mashed potatoes here)
- • ¼ c honey
- • 2-3 T melted butter
- * Note: Water should be between 107°F and 110°F. This works perfectly for this bread. But if you do not have a thermometer, test for a “comfortable warm” (slightly warmer than baby bath water) and err on the side of “too cool.” If you get it too hot, you can kill the yeast.
- Measure out (into a small bowl) the sugar, dry milk, and salt. No need to mix it. Set aside.
- Soften butter and set aside.
- Mix 2/3 cup warm water with ¼ cup potato flakes and set aside.
- Measure out honey and set aside.
- Measure out flour in a large bowl and set aside.
- Measure out (and check the temperature on) 1 ½ cups water
- Set up your stand mixer and add the instant (quick) yeast to the bottom of the mixer bowl. Add the warm water and stir a bit until the yeast is well dissolved. Because you are using instant yeast, there is no need to wait for it to start bubbling. However, if you are substituting with active dry yeast, give it 5-10 minutes until it starts to bubble a bit before you move on.
- Dump in the sugar, salt, and dry milk mixture.
- Dump in 4 ½ cups of the flour, holding back about 1 cup (no need to be picky here, guesstimate.)
- Dump in the softened butter, the moistened instant potatoes, and the honey.
- Turn the mixer on low and let it mix until it starts to come together into a sticky ball. Slowly add the last cup of flour until the dough ball is soft and doesn’t stick to your fingers. You may not need the entire last cup of flour and that is okay. Judge by whether it is sticking to the sides or bottom of your mixing bowl – it should not be sticking. If it is, add a tablespoon or two (a little at a time) more flour until it is no longer sticking. Touch it. Make sure it does not stick to your fingers.
- START YOUR TIMER for 7 minutes and allow it to knead in the mixer, occasionally stopping to clear your dough hook and push it back down in the bowl, if necessary. Yes, it will climb the dough hook. Push it back down.
- After 7 minutes of kneading, roll the dough out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Using clean, dry hands that you have lightly dipped in flour, hand knead the dough 6-8 times and shape it into a ball.
- Oil your mixing bowl lightly (I use butter spray) and place the dough ball back in, turning it once to cover the entire dough ball with a bit of the oil (or if you are using butter spray, just spray it). Cover lightly with a clean cotton towel.
- Place somewhere warm and let rise for about 1 hour. In the winter when my kitchen is cold, I turn my oven on to preheat for about 2-3 minutes and then turn it off and set the bowl in the slightly warm oven and close the door. This seems to work very well for me.
- After 1 hour, check the proof by poking the dough with your finger. If it bounces right back and leaves no indentation, then it is under-proofed and not ready. Wait & continue to check every 8-10 minutes. Sometimes, it can take as long as 90 minutes in a cool kitchen. If it does not bounce right back and leaves a slight indentation, it is perfect. Move to the next step. If it doesn’t bounce back at all, then it is over-proofed, but if you move quickly, it should still turn out okay. Move to the next step.
- Lightly grease two loaf pans and set aside. (Again, I use butter spray then wipe away any excess with a paper towel.)
- Punch the dough down and roll it out onto a very lightly floured surface. Flatten it out into a large rectangle and work out (by poking & pinching it with your fingers) all the air bubbles you can find. I like to use a rolling pin because they usually just pop under the pressure of the rolling pin. It should be about ½ inch thick with no air bubbles.
- Starting with a short edge of your rectangle, roll the dough into a tight log and seal the seam by pinching the dough closed and smoothing it out with your fingers. Leave it seam side up for now.
- Cut the dough log in half to create two loaves.
- Insert two fingers into each end of each loaf and pull the dough over the end and pinch it closed on the bottom.
- Place the dough seam side down in a loaf pan and press to shape and work out any errant bubbles.
- Cover with a cotton towel and place in a warm spot to rise again for additional 60-90 minutes.
- Again, check the proof. (See above.) When perfectly proofed, preheat the oven to 350°F. Don’t worry if the loaf doesn’t seem very tall. It will rise further while baking. As long as it is just above the top edge of the pan, you should be fine.
- Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the loaves 180° to ensure even browning.
- Bake an additional 10-20 minutes until loaf tops are well browned and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap on it.
- While the loaves finish baking, put 2-3 tablespoons of butter on the lowest possible heat on your stovetop and let it gently melt.
- Remove loaves from the oven and immediately turn them out onto cooling racks. Using a pastry brush, butter the tops of the loaves.
- Let cool OVERNIGHT no matter what time you took them out of the oven! DO NOT CUT before the loaves are completely cool no matter how tempting! THIS IS CRITICAL! They are not done yet and you will ruin the texture, crumb, consistency and moisture level if you cut too soon. Just go to bed, bury your face in your pillow, and try not to smell it!
- Once it has cooled overnight, turn a loaf on its side and use a serrated knife to slice. Slice only what you need for the day. Package in an airtight container or get yourself some of these handy bread bags from Amazon (link below).
Don’t have a stand mixer? You can knead this dough by hand, but UGH … I love homemade bread but not THAT much. Check out these stand mixers on Amazon. I love my KitchenAid even if it is 25 years old. It does the job and KitchenAid is one of the few companies that “still makes ’em like they used to” so yes, it will last! Oh, and the handy dandy bread bags I mentioned? Here is the kind I use. Good price and complete with twister seals.
Let me know if you try this or if you have any questions. If I don’t know the answer, I probably know someone who does!
And for our visual learners, here is our usual photo montage!
I hope you enjoy this recipe … and be sure to try it with raisins and cinnamon!
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