Simple White Bread
¾ cup milk
¼ cup sugar
1 pkg (¼ oz) active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ tsp loose yeast)
½ cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp salt
3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbls butter, melted
In a small microwave safe bowl, mix milk and sugar. Heat in microwave to a temperature of between 110℉ – 115℉. This should take less than a minute and it’s very important to use a thermometer to get the correct temperature. (See my recommendation for kitchen thermometers here).
Dissolve yeast in milk mixture and set aside for 7 minutes to proof. It should “bloom” or form a foam on top.
In the meantime, add flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together with a fork.
When yeast is proofed, add applesauce, egg and yeast mixture to flour mixture. Blend with the mixer until a dough forms, 3-4 minutes.
Turn dough onto a lightly greased surface or pastry mat and use a bench scraper* to fold dough in half repeatedly for 6-8 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Dough will be sticky.
Turn the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl. Use a pastry brush or cooking spray to lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover with towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.
Gently press fist into the center of dough to deflate and turn into a greased bread pan (8 ½” x 4 ½” x 2 ½”). Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 30 minutes. Uncover dough and continue to rise until dough slightly crowns over top of the pan, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375℉ until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Bread should sound hollow when you tap on the crust and have an internal temperature of 190℉.
Remove immediately from the pan to a cooling rack. Brush top, sides and bottom with melted butter. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
*Bench scrapers (also referred to as bowl scrapers or pastry knives) can be stainless steel or plastic and cost as little as $1.00. If you don’t have one on hand, you can use a sturdy spatula, cake/pie server or butter knife. If you must know the truth, I use a plastic drywall mudding tool as a bench scraper!
Yield: 16 slices, 125 calories per slice
Hack: To tell if bread is proofed enough to bake, press your finger gently to the dough. If indent remains momentarily, then it’s ready. If indent immediately pops back up, it’s not ready yet. If indent sinks lower and remains, it’s over proofed.
Hack: Bread can be sliced and then frozen or refrigerated for longer storage. You can “refresh” the bread by warming it briefly in the microwave or toasting it before use.
Hack: If the bread stales before you’ve finished eating it, run it between your fingers (or use a food processor) to turn it into bread crumbs. Seal in bag or container and store in the freezer for future use.
Hack: This recipe can be turned into sandwich rolls if preferred. After first rise, separate dough into 8 pieces and form into rolls. Allow to rise until double, about 30 minutes.