Photo by Donna

Photo by Donna

Last post on the astonishing versatility of five parts flour, three parts water.  First it was pizza (remember this awesome pizza?… hmm, maybe a bacon and egg pizza this weekend).  More recently, I made these delicious pretzels.  Same dough, different products. And here it is in yet another form.

Every now and then, when I or Donna stop at On the Rise bakery, where Adam Gidlow and staff bake bread, bread, bread—the best baguette in the land, as far as I’m concerned—we pick up a loaf of sandwich bread, which young James calls “the most awesome bread ever.” Last time I was there, jealous of the light airy crust and soft kid-friendly texture, I asked Adam, “What makes it sandwich bread?”

He said, “It’s the exact same dough as the baguette, but a longer ferment.  And it’s baked in a loaf pan.”

“You mean second rise?”  Bakers speak in curious tongues and I wanted to make sure.  Traditionally what we at home call rising, some bakers call fermenting, referring to the delicious microbial activity.  This is when the yeast does most of its work and generates most of its flavor.  The second rise after it’s been shaped is sometimes called “proofing.” Which never made sense to me—it’s either proved itself in the first rise or it hasn’t.  Adam nodded. That’s right, he explained, it goes for nearly twice the time an ordinary baguette goes after being shaped.

I’d already noticed how dense my Dutch oven bread could be if I didn’t let it rise long enough.  For sandwich bread, it needed even more time to open up.  I’d let it rise to within an inch of its life, then score it and put it in the oven. (See this post for bread baking basics and one of my favorite of all of Donna’s pix.)

Works like a charm.  Want to throw in some extras?  Honey?  Egg white?  Wheat germ for fiber?  Rosemary?  Go to town.  Use a ratio as your starting point and you’re good to go. (If you don’t own the book, put it on the Xmas list you give to the loved ones who adore your cooking! Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.)

Oh, home food photographers, the above picture?  Donna explains how to get similar lighting effects using inexpensive materials on her latest post.

Everyday Sandwich Bread

20 ounces flour

12 ounces water

1 teaspoon dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer.  (The standing mixer is a big ticket item but a powerhouse that’s well worth the investment; here’s the one I recommend, available at OpenSky; we WILL matching Amazon’s prices!) Mix with the dough hook until the dough is very elastic, about 10 minutes on medium speed.  Remove the bowl from the stand, cover it with a pot lid or plastic and let it rise till it’s doubled in volume, 2 to 4 hours depending on how hot your kitchen is.

Remove the dough from the bowl, pound it down, knead it and get as much gas out as you can (you’re redistributing the yeast so it can get fresh food).  Shape it into a rectangle about the size of a sheet of paper.  Let it rest for 10 minutes covered with a towel.  To shape it, fold it over on itself, starting from the top and pinching it solidly down with the heel of your hand—fold, pound pound pound pound pound—until it’s a round loaf.  Drop it into an oiled loaf pan and cover with a towel, or better yet, put the entire loaf pan in a dutch oven and cover it.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and let the dough rest till it looks like it won’t rise no more.

Draw a knife lengthwise down the center to help it rise and put it in the oven.  Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.  (If you’re cooking in a Dutch oven leave the lid on for the first half hour.) Bake for about an hour, till it’s done (internal temperature of 200 degrees or so).  Let it cool (it’s still cooking and setting up inside!).


32 Wonderful responses to “Making Sandwich Bread
With the 5:3 Ratio”

  • Russ H.

    Thanks to ratios, I now make the baking of bread a semi-weekly thing! Better than any big-brand loaf you buy in the store. I started using a mix of wheat flour (about 1/3 of the total flour being wheat – A ratio within a ratio!) and adding wheat germ as well.

  • Kakaty

    mmmm…On the Rise baguettes are the best. One of my favoriate Saturday AM stops. We are lucky if the baguette makes it past noon in our house.

  • Winnie

    I’ve baked bread a million times (ok maybe not a million) but good sandwich bread has generally eluded me…I am looking forward to trying this soon, and to getting your book, as well!

  • Sharon Scott

    Thanks, ben looking for something like this to try at home as I’m tired of driving 14 miles round trip for preservative free sandwich bread for my boys, husband included. Any additional tips in terms of baking pans and bread slicing for us passionate, perfectionistics cooks??? I don’t dare use nonstick in baking. Sacrilege to be sure.

  • melissa

    I know that it’s very dependent on how warm your kitchen is and other variable factors, but just talking ballpark numbers, about how long of a rise are we talking? 30 minutes? hour and a half? Curious when I need to preheat my oven.

    That’s a really gorgeous loaf. Love the little muffin top.

  • Ericl

    If you are cooking it inside the dutch oven, should you remove the loaf pan from the dutch oven once you remove it from the oven to cool? It seems that keeping it in it while it cools would keep it “cooking” for longer.

  • carri

    Here at Two Sisters, we add a little milk and sugar to what we call our ‘white trash loaf’ , makes for a very tender and versatile dough, very popular with kids! You can also sub in half wheat flour for a little more substance.(that would eb ‘wheat trash’) Another tip: Your second rise will only be as successful as your first…so if you don’t let ir rise enought the first time, it won’t reach optimum height with the second. It should take about an hour in a moderately warm spot.

  • Sam

    A quick question: I made the bread recipe from the book for the first time (I use the dough the whole time for pizzas, but not for bread). I used our new stand mixer, also for the first time, to give myself a break. But, despite at least a 10 minute run through the knead setting, the dough didn’t reach that ‘transparency/translucency’ that the book says marks it as being sufficiently kneaded. I left it going a bit longer, to no avail. Any thoughts on why that would be? I made it anyway, but it was an extremely dense loaf.

    I was using all-purpose flour, warm tap water, instant dry yeast, and salt. Nothing else. One thing to note – I live in Edmonton, Alberta, and it is a pretty dry climate – could that have an impact?

    Any help very much appreciated,


  • Chennette

    So. I am finally buying Ratios. Intended to from the beginning, never fear, just took a while to get to it since I am not in the US. Do you know if anyone has ever done a bread book for the humid tropics? We always have to rebalance bread recipes down here in the Caribbean – it was frustrating until you learn the mantra to keep repeating “we’re extremely humid” it is expected.

  • Rachel

    Donna that’s a stunning photo of the loaf of bread. I agree with Melissa that the hi hat shape of the loaf from the dough spilling over the sides is adorable. Thanks for the nudge on how easy it is to make sandwich bread! That’s one ratio I have not used yet!

  • sygyzy

    I think Ratio and ratios is great but one thing they always seem to leave out is a rule about the amount of salt and yeast to use. It’d be nice to know 5:3 plus 1 T of yeast for every x oz/g of flour.

  • carri

    Sam…it is possible to overmix your dough with a stand mixer. At home I will use tha stand mixer to get it together and then finish it off by hand so you have a feel for when the dough is ready, you can tell when because it gets all silky in texture, also, try unbleached flour and make sure your water isn’t too warm…one more thing, always add salt last , never at the same time as the yeast, because direct contact with the salt will make the yeast less active.

  • dervin

    Semi-off topic question, but on the opensky page the mixers range in price from $249 to $318. And no justification for the price difference other than color? Is that right?

  • Andy from OpenSky

    Hi Dervin,
    Andy here, from OpenSky.

    You raise a great question. OpenSky pricing aims to be very competitive in the online retail space. Products offered in different colors/models often come from a variety of wholesalers. This variety results in a range in product pricing, similar to what a consumer might find with other prominent online retailers.

    Thank you for raising this question and if you have any more OpenSky questions feel free to contact OpenSky Customer Service:


    Enjoy your Day,

    The OpenSky Project

  • Kate

    I’ve been looking to buy a stand mixer for a while now. I’m nervous to buy this KitchenAid Artisan mixer because I make a Slovenian dessert called Potica that’s made from an unbelievable “strong” dough. Have you ever found your mixer not powerful for certain things?

  • ChefSharp

    I know you don’t like recipes, but a good book on bread baking is “Bread Alone” by Dan Leader. He does sponges, etc, and really goes into detail on the break making process. Highly recommended.

  • zoey4now

    Since I see Andy of OpenSky is here I want to say two things about OpenSky:

    1) that customer service said they would get back to me in a half hour on the question of shipping and Within The Half Hour I got a call back….FABULOUS

    2) AND it is free shipping ground to Canada…Yahoo and thanks Andy FABULOUS

  • marms05

    After three major floods, I had to abandon breadmaking for the past 20 years. My favorite bread pans were dense glass (I think Swedish) and produced the most wonderful crust and form. Any idea of where to find replacements? Also, we bought whole wheat flour from a small family-owned farm on Washington Island, WI and I did use the 5:3 ratio. It was sweet but not too. I need a new source of wwf. Thanks for everything.
    Braavo to Donna – big improvement!

  • melissa

    Chenette: I’ve done a lot of baking out of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I live in Houston which is like a sauna most of the year and I’ve had great success with it.

  • Katie

    I semi-frequently bake 100% whole wheat bread for my father, who’s diabetic. It’s a recipe I found somewhere and began to improvise from from the first moment I tried it, to the point where it’s not even really recognizable anymore.
    The great thing about it is that it’s given me a willingness to play with the basic dough and see what it will do for me – I’ve tried a single round proof, a single proof in a loaf pan, and a really long ferment in loaf pans, and it’s all been delicious.
    I bought a copy of Ratio a couple months ago and haven’t taken the time to play with it yet… I foresee tasty mayhem in my future.

  • Hema

    On the Rise definitely has the best baguettes in the Cleve, bar none. I just wish the bakery were not such a pain to get to from Solon!

  • Michelle

    Great information. And love the new look! That picture of the sandwich bread is spectacular! Made me hungry just looking at it. I happen to love, love bread – that no-carb diet thing never worked for me. (Never trust a person who refuses to eat good bread served to them at a dinner party. Just isn’t normal.) I was wondering what type of flour you recommend? All purpose, Bread flour, or any special brand?

  • Laura [What I Like]

    I’ve been making bread nearly weekly with your ratio (dutch oven bread that is…very excited to not be using a recipe!) but my better half prefers “square bread” so I’m thrilled to give this one a try. Out of curiosity, have you tried it using natural starter or is it better to stick with the dried yeast?

  • JA

    You recommend the Artisan? Really? Over the more heavy-duty models, esp the ones with metal parts instead of plastic? Not to mention the larger bowls? I’ve been wanting to get a KA stand mixer for a while but had decided not to take a chance on this model. Keep in mind the KAs of today are NOT made like they were 15 or 20 or more years ago … no appliance is, really.

  • Joe

    How do you feel about adding the salt after the first rise? Autolyse..?

  • Doug

    What kind of flour do you use? I would probably use unbleached-AP because that is what I have on hand.

  • Katy

    Kate…. I’ve been using a KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer for years now and can honestly say it can handle just about anything so should be no problem for your Slovenian dessert dough (I mix and knead some pretty hefty Finnish bread doughs in it with no problem at all)…it’s lasted for years with heavy use and no issues at all.

    also just purchased a KItchenAid Professional HD stand mixer and that has even more power (though I’ve also been very happy with the Artisan for my baking needs!)–main differences are the Artisan has the tilt-head feature and the Professional has a bowl lifter, more powerful motor, and larger bowl.

    you won’t be disappointed in these mixers! 🙂

  • Katy

    JA…after having used KitchenAid mixers for years I can honestly say they make a very high quality stand mixer so I agree with Michael on this one—-I don’t think their quality has suffered over the years as other appliances have (and I don’t see much plastic, if any, on the mixer itself (maybe the knobs)–all heavy duty metals and solidly constructed). I recommend them often and people have not been disappointed (the attachments for pasta, sausage stuffing, grinder, are decent also—sure, some of the attachments are plastic but no problems with them).

    (geez, I sound like a KitchenAid salesperson…. can’t say enough about ’em though…love my stand mixers!)

  • John Gutekanst

    Great post Michael, That Bread looks Fab!

    Have you ever taken this to a 3rd proof or even 4th proof?

    I’ve found some great egg-washed rolls (or Pain Fendu or split bread) can be made by retarding, or slowing the fermentation via an overnight stay in the fridge.

    After the second proof, I cut the dough into 3 ounce (for rolls) and 4-5 ounce for Pain Fendu. Oil with ex. virgin olive oil and cover with plastic wrap then put in the fridge for 24 hours.

    The next day, take out and warm for 10 minutes, then fold dough into balls the same way a pizza guy would.

    For the eggwashed rolls, Proof for 20 minutes to relax the gluten then place the balls on a sheet/cookie pan topped with parchment and eggwash, let sit next to oven for 10 more minutes. Eggwash again right before the oven.

    For the Pain Fendu, pull into a football shape after the 20 minutes, dredge the top of the ball in flour, or rice flour and use a wooden dowel the diameter of a quarter pressing down and rocking back and forth through the ball lengthwise along the football until you hit the floured table. Press some more until almost cutting the roll in half. Place on parchment after another 10 minutes proof and cook. Both “cheeks”of the Fendu will rise beautifully for some great sharing.

    Thanks for your great blog. Especially the tips on lighting!

    John Gutekanst
    Pizza Goon

  • Kris

    I made this loaf last weekend, and it was wonderful. I did leave it in the fridge overnight for the first rise, which helped build a stronger, more sour flavor. The dough was wonderful to work with – very similar to my husband’s sourdough pizza crust, which I’ve got retarding in the fridge now.

    Also, I’ve had Ratio on my wish list since it came out – I’m hoping my husband has been paying attention . . .

  • Dane

    I have a lot of Quick Yeast leftover from making cinnamon rolls, can that be used in this recipe? Would the measurements need to be changed? The cinnamon rolls were really my only yeast bread making experience. Any help would be appreciated with this question.