go to basket

Rich Sandwich Bread

Toast. You know you want it.

One 2½-pound loaf


About 30 minutes to make the dough, two resting periods totaling about 2 hours, and about 30 minutes to bake


Call us white bread, but sometimes we’re just not in the mood for a big, brawny wood-fired boule (no matter how much apricot jam and sweet butter waits in attendance), and our jaws don’t want to scale sourdough mountain. Sometimes we long for a mild, friendly slice and fine crumb that reaches out to us. And here it is, classic sandwich bread, pictured above in its most appealing manifestation: toast.

The tradition of sliced bread and toast goes back to the early days of spit roasting and bolsters in Europe. The bolster (or bread) was, like the meat, toasted over an open fire, and used as a little mattress to absorb drippings. This genre migrated to the British Isles where it followed an elegant cultural track until it reached our shores. In point of real fact, the English culture of toasted bread was honorably sustained for a time here in America. Colonial Carolinians made their toasting and sandwich bread with flour milled from white wheat brought here by French Huguenots beginning in 1690. Why? Because farmers and millers in the South of France set the standard in Europe for how these sweet white wheats—with no trace of bitter tannin in their bran—were grown and milled. By the time we Americans were producing wheat of our own, industrialization had advanced, and roller milling had changed our wheat permanently. Introduced in the early 1800s, roller milling was a rough process, and required wheat with bran layers that were thick and tough. These rugged bran layers were also loaded with bitter tannins. The industrial focus on tough bran wheat drove American bakers to open their sugar bins and start shoveling. We all know where things went from there: steadily downhill until the artisan bread movement of the past few decades. And good toasting bread has never really made a comeback. Until now.

American millers did much to compromise the quality of sliced bread, but Americans are still pretty good at making toast. The English? Not so much. The English throw their toast between the slots of a cute silver caddy, and convey it unbuttered to the table where it cools down at the speed of light. Any thinking person knows that toast must be buttered the second it springs from the toaster, and sent to the table immediately, one slice warming the other, buttered sides in.

But we digress.

To craft a classic sandwich bread, we present Anson Mills French Mediterranean White Bread Flour, which harkens back to our Colonial era when we imported French sweet white wheat seed to grow and mill to flour for slicing bread. It is a lovely product that makes a superb loaf. (To read about American sandwich bread’s French ancestry, click here.)

The little lamb of a recipe that goes with our new flour uses a straight yeasted method to produce dough that pulls together easily in a bowl, can be kneaded entirely by hand should you desire, and requires no overnight fermentation or other flavor-building maneuvers. Easy to work with, once shaped, it grabs support from the loaf pan in which it rests to maintain form. The bread is beautiful to behold and wafts a captivating scent. It slices perfectly. It is lusciously moist and freezes without complaint. Best of all, it makes great toast.

Baking Notes

The gluten window we mention in the body of the recipe signals the strength and extensibility of the dough. You can test this by pulling up a bit of dough between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and stretching it. When the dough is properly kneaded it will stretch into a membrane thin enough to be transparent. That is the gluten window.

Deep, straight-sided loaf pans are called Pullman pans, and they make gorgeous sandwich loaves. Many of them come with a lid, but we achieved better browning and no less symmetry in our loaves when we left the lid off. We purchased our pan from King Arthur Flour.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a digital kitchen scale, a small saucepan, an instant-read thermometer, a small bowl, a whisk, a large mixing bowl if you choose to knead the dough by hand, a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment if you choose not to knead the dough by hand, a wooden spoon, a 13 by 4 by 4-inch Pullman loaf pan (lid not needed), a pizza stone, and a wire cooling rack.

    • cups whole milk, plus additional for brushing the loaf

    • 4
      ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter, plus additional for the loaf pan

    • 2
      teaspoons sugar

    • teaspoons fine sea salt

    • 1
      large egg, beaten

    • 2
      teaspoons instant yeast

    • pounds (about 5 cups) Anson Mills French Mediterranean White Bread Flour, cold from the freezer

    • Vegetable oil spray

    Combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat until the butter begins to melt and the liquid registers about 135 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat and stir to dissolve the remaining butter. Let cool to the temperature of a hot bath, 95 to 100 degrees. Meanwhile, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk well. Drizzle about ½ cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg and whisk to combine, then whisk the egg mixture back into the milk. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid, let it soften for a minute, and then stir to dissolve the yeast. (It will not dissolve completely—this does not matter.)


    To make the dough by hand: Turn the flour into a large mixing bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy dough. Scrape the dough onto the countertop. Knead without additional flour until the dough is shiny, strong, and extensible enough to be stretched gently between the fingers into a translucent gluten window (see Baking Notes, above), about 20 minutes. Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size and looks spongy and pocked, about 1 hour.\n\n_To make the dough in a stand mixer:_ Turn the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy dough. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit it with the dough hook attachment. Knead on low speed until the dough is shiny, strong, and extensible enough to be stretched gently between the fingers into a translucent gluten window (see Baking Notes, above), about 15 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size and looks spongy and pocked, about 1 hour.


    Brush a 13 by 4 by 4-inch Pullman loaf pan with butter and set it aside. Turn the dough onto an unfloured work surface and stretch it gently it into a rectangle just shy of the length of the pan and about 1½ inches thick. Roll it up from one long end, pressing along the seam that forms as you roll. Press along the final seam to seal and turn the ends of the loaf in. Roll the loaf seam side down and coax the dough into a uniformly thick cylinder. Place the dough in the prepared pan—it should make contact with the pan on both ends. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with vegetable oil spray and place it greased side down over the top of the pan. Let the dough rise until it is within ½ inch of the top of the pan, 45 minutes to 1 hour.


    While the bread is rising, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, set a pizza stone on the rack, and heat the oven to 450 degrees. When the dough has risen to within ½ inch of the top of the pan, brush it with milk and put the loaf pan on the hot pizza stone. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until the bread is deep golden brown and registers 190 to 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert the pan to unmold the loaf. Let cool completely on a wire rack.