Growing up, Marius spent a lot of time at a friends house, whose mom, Elaine, made all sorts of things. Fast forward to us having kids in the house and Elaine has become a weekly fixture for us as well. We enjoy trading different homemade or homegrown food (she makes the BEST wine with homegrown fruit…) and swapping recipes. This recipe is one she gave me after my kids couldn’t get enough of the loaf of “fluffy white CRUSTLESS” bread she brought us one day. After 15 years of making bread, I’m happy to tell you I’ve found the holy grail of sandwich bread and hamburger buns I have been looking for.
A note about the milk– we save some buttermilk when we make butter to make this bread. This buttermilk is different that the thick cultured buttermilk you buy in the store. If you happen to make your own butter, you’re in luck. If you make cheese or strain yogurt, as long as the whey isnt salted, save some back for this bread! Otherwise, swap for milk or water. Water will give you a little different outcome but its still great bread.
Elaine’s Crustless Sandwich Bread
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cups milk, whey, buttermilk (not cultured, but the buttermilk you get when you make butter) OR Water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp active dry OR instant yeast
- 4-4.5 cups all purpose white flour
- Melt together the butter and water/milk until the butter is just melted and the milk isnt too hot (it will kill yeast if its too hot for you to hold your finger in)
- In a mixer with the dough hooks on, mix salt, sugar, yeast and 2.5 cups flour.
- Add in milk/butter to flour mix and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Add in 1.5 cups flour, knead until well combined. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl, NOT stick to it, and be "soft as a babys bottom". If its not there yet, add in flour a couple tablespoons at a time.
- Once its the right consistency, let machine knead for 3-5 minutes until bread hits windowpane. Whats window pane? If you pull out a golf ball sized piece of dough and gently flatten it/stretch it like youre making a tiny pizza, and hold it up to the light, you should be able to see through it. If it starts to bust holes before you can get it that thin, knead it another minute or two.
- Cover mixer bowl and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- When doubled, dump dough onto a lightly floured counter, divide in two, and shape your loaves.
- Get your loaf pans ready- I prefer to line with parchment vs greasing and flouring. Its less work for me. I prefer a smaller sized loaf pan for tall loaves, but two 8"x4" pans work well.
- To shape loaves, use your hands to push the dough into a rectangle about as big as your two hands with fingers spread out. Then roll it up "like a hot dog", tuck in the ends and pop into your bread pans.
- Put your bread pans inside of a plastic bag. I reuse a turkey roaster bag for this but you can even use a grocery bag. Make sure its inflated with air and tie it off so it stays blown up like a balloon. This creates an excellent "proofing chamber" for your bread to rise well.
- Look at how your dough is now, maybe "measure" how tall up the pan the dough is with your fingers like you were measuring 2 fingers of whiskey. For me, it was 3 fingers. This helps me so I can know when the bread is doubled. Letting your bread truly fully double before baking is the trick to this bread being as light and fluffy as can be. It takes about 30-60 min depending on your house temperature.
- Before the dough is quite doubled, preheat the oven to 350F, with the rack in the middle. NOT CONVECTION. Convection setting actually inhibits your bread from springing up well when baked!
- When dough is sufficiently doubled, slide into the oven and set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn pans around. Bake another 5-10 minutes more. (If your oven runs hot, check after 5 minutes)
- Because ovens vary, I always suggest taking your breads internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. It should be over 180F, usually in the area of 190F. If its over 180F you're good, it will continue to rise a bit after you take it out of the oven.
- When the internal temperature is right, take it out of the oven, leave the loaves in the pans, and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, take the bread out of the pans. This 10 minute rest helps the sides and bottom of the loaves stay softer.
- If you really want to do this right, take a stick of butter and rub it all over the tops of the bread while its still warm for the ultimate soft top crust.
- If you plan to eat the whole loaf in one sitting, you can cut into it while its still hot. Otherwise let it sit at least an hour, ideally until room temp, until you cut into it. The "crumb" of the bread is still setting up and if you cut into it, it releases the steam thats doing so, and causes your bread to get a bit gummier as its cools.
- Store in a container on bag on the counter, stays cold sandwich worthy for a good 3 days in our 20C/70F house.