Thursday, March 27, 2008

Homemade sandwich bread

I’ve lived in Columbus for four-and-a-half years, and during that time I’ve been unable to find a bakery that makes good sandwich bread. To be sure, it’s not that there isn’t any good bread around: The batards from La Chatelaine make excellent crostini and the rustic round loaves from Tasi/Eleni-Christina are welcome at my dinner table anytime. But for my sandwiches I’m looking for something entirely different: a whole grain loaf that’s hearty, yet still slightly soft. And a bakery with an electric slicing machine is an added bonus. (As a writer I prize precision, so I derive some satisfaction from a uniformly sliced loaf.)

Sadly, this bakeshop trifecta is not available within an acceptable driving distance of my house. On most of my trips home to Michigan I’ve loaded up on loaves of oatmeal bread from Sarkozy’s and Scottish struan bread from Mackenzie’s, but if too much time elapses between these trips, my supply runs out.

I found myself in such a situation over Easter weekend, so I decided to try my hand at baking my own. I found a promising recipe for easy multigrain bread in an old Cook’s Illustrated, and I swung into action. The whole process was incredibly satisfying and easy. It was a most-of-the-day affair because of the time required for repeated rising, but the hands-on time totaled only about 30 minutes. The only mistake I made was using quick-rise yeast rather than the instant yeast that the recipe called for. (Are they the same thing? I'm still not sure.) My two loaves didn’t puff up as much as they should have, but the results were still wonderful. I cut my first slice when the bread was still hot from the oven and slathered it with butter. The result? Bread that tasted exactly like what I had been looking for.

“Don’t plan your day around your bread, but plan your bread around your day,” say bread-baking experts. The upshot of that advice is, if you’ll plan on being home most of the day working on other things, you probably have time to make homemade bread.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


A lovely description of bread!!! Thanks for the inspiration.

:) Em

7:35 AM  
Blogger Big Momma said...

You should buy a loaf from Benevolence...they have a stand in the north market and their restaurant close by. It is wonderful. I don't recall them having a slicer, but it is worth it.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you tried the French Loaf in Grandview???

12:53 PM  

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