There is no such animal, thing, recipe, that is foolproof. I have been making Julia Child’s white bread recipe for 4 months. I followed the directions, exactly the way she wrote them. I used her techniques to make the dough, I have executed her techniques by making her bread, by hand and in my KA Commercial mixer. I have watched Julia’s video, I laughed, when she slammed the dough down on the counter. I even tried slamming the dough on the counter, though mentally I felt better, but alas, the finished bread was a stinker, and it would up in the trash.
I know some people will say “Oh, No don’t throw it out make breadcrumbs or croutons, feed the birds even give it to my neighbors.” Nope can’t do that, wouldn’t do that, to my neighbors, I have enough problems with them already. The birds would peck at it but in reality, throwing it out to the animals and birds it would only attract vermin, and other unwanted critters, which I don’t need at my place. The bread stunk, was doughy, dense, underbaked, overbaked, overproved, or underproved I dont know or didnt know what happened. Yet I kept trying to get it to where I wanted it to be.
I increased the flour, decreased the water made changes to the amount of butter or when the butter was added. I used 8 x 4 pans and finally 9 x 5 loaf pans I EXPERIMENTED or TINKERED with the recipe for months and baked maybe 50 loaves, until one day “Shazam” it all came together, the perfect loaves. Thin delicate crust and a marvelous soft crumb from the bottom of the loaf to the crown.
I found that the first prove was too long the orignal recipe directions, one hour or more, then added until doubled in bulk. When I did the one hour prove the yeast worked itself to death and didn’t have enough activity in reserve to prove the final shape. Consequently, there wasn’t enough gas left in the dough to make a halfhearted try to enable the dough rise out of the pan nor giving that famous Oven Spring we have all been told about so many times. (I now prove the first rise between 110 to 120 degrees F it take approximately 30 minutes for the dough to double in bulk.)
These recommendations are for 60-70 percent hydration doughs i.e. sandwich bread, rolls, buns etc.
When it comes time to prove, the first rise is the most important, place the dough in a greased clear, straight sided container, measure from the bottom of the container to the top edge of the dough and mark it with a dry erase marker, a piece of tape or a sticky note. Then double the measurement and mark the container. When the edge of the dough reaches the upper measurement, the dough has doubled in bulk. It is very important to keep a watch on the dough, don’t allow it to overprove Dump it out on a floured surface divide the dough into as many pieces as you need cover with damp cloth, or towel, greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Divide and shape the dough whether it will be made into loaves, rolls, or buns. For loaves place the dough in loaf pans, cover and let rise until the dough crowns the pan or is about an inch above the rim or the loaf pan. For rolls, place the balls of dough ½ to ¾ inch apart on all sides, when the risen dough balls touch sides, they will look like square blocks with rounded tops and small diamonds in the corners and will be ready to bake. Buns for hamburgers should be one inch to 1-½” inches apart in all directions when the sides almost or do touch they are ready to bake. For thinner hamburger rolls make the ball and flatten it then make a small depression in the center of the flattened ball this will retard the crown or height and thickness of the roll.
This is my recipe for white sandwich bread
White bread recipe
- 840 g bread flour (7 cups)
- 15 g sugar (1 Tbsp)
- 17 g salt (2-1/2 tsp)
- 16 g active dry yeast (2 packages ADY)
- 533 g very warm water (100° to 115°F) ( 2 ¼ cups)
- 60 g un-salted butter (4 Tbsp)
- In a bowl add:
- Add 420 g flour, sugar, butter, and yeast, until well mixed. Beat with, Stand mixer on stir, for 1 minute.
- With paddle on mixer. Add 533 g water, mix well until a smooth batter is achieved.
- With dough hook on mixer. Add 420 g flour, salt, knead on speed 2-3 to make dough easy to handle. Add water, by the teaspoon, if necessary, until dough is smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky
- Knead 8 – 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic and slightly tacky to the touch.
- Lightly grease large straight sided clear container with cooking spray.
- Place dough in container measure height of dough and mark container double the height and remark container.
- Turn dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with damp towel and let rise in warm place until dough has doubled in bulk. Doubling in bulk is temperature dependent
- Lightly grease bottoms and sides of two 9” x 5” loaf pans lightly with melted butter.
- Punch dough down to deflate.
- Divide dough in half.
- Cover the dough with damp towel, let dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into 9 x 12-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface.
- Starting at a short end, fold it in thirds, like a letter. Press with heel of hand to seal after each turn.
- Roll the dough into a log, seal the ends of the dough with the heel of hand. Fold ends under loaf.
- Place seam side down in pan. Using the flat of hand push dough into the corners of the pan.
- Lightly brush loaves with butter.
- Let dough rise in warm place until dough is 1 inch above the loaf pans rim. Estimated time between (30 to 60 minutes). This would be the time to place dough in the refrigerator for an overnight rise. Let dough come to room temp before baking.
- Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven.
- Heat oven to 375°F.
- Bake 30 to 35  minutes until loaves are golden-brown, internal temp of 200 degrees F. Remove from pans to wire rack. Brush loaves with butter; cool.
Mark container at top of unproved dough. Measure from bottom of container then double the measurement, make your second mark. This is a Cambro 8 quart square container and is marked in 2-quart divisions. It makes it easy to see when the dough has doubled in bulk.