White Bread (Toast Bread)

Toast Bread Jeffrey Hamelman

It’s one of those weeks. A new American pullman tin has found its way into my tin collection and needed to be road tested. I didn’t need this tin, but I wanted it. It was the right size and I had been eyeing them up for a long time. Why no English tin manufacturer produces these for the retail market is completely beyond me.

I also got a banneton with a wooden middle that looks like a Mexican hat. I didn’t need that either, but I really wanted it too. I tried it out and Bakery Bits let me exchange it for a proper couronne basket.  This one has too narrow a centre to create a proper hole in a decent sized loaf. Some people spend their money on sensible things, like a night in the pub.  I spend mine on banettons, Lego, cookbooks and dogtoys.

Chicago Metallic Pullman tin from Bakery Bits

It worked beautifully and Brian is happy to have a soft thin crusted white loaf after eating sourdough for weeks. This bread won’t hang around long.

Homage to Franko's bread on the Fresh Loaf!

This photo standing on end is my homage to Franko on the Fresh Loaf who recently posted a beautiful photo of an 80 % sourdough rye bread he had crafted. Now that’s some bread!

But surely, I hear you mutter amongst yourselves, she just wrote a post about one of these?  Yes but…. the random bread selector of Mellow Bakers threw this one up this month as well as the Pain de Mie last month, so it’s square bread time again.  Just read this very quickly. It won’t take long.

I took a view on the recipe though. I am trying to avoid sugar this month and all these white bread recipes have sugar in them. So I compromised and used light spraymalt instead for that English taste.There’s no milk powder in this one, and just a smidgen of butter and it is a great loaf of white bread that toasts very nicely and doesn’t taste sweet. Unlike the stuff you buy in the shops, if you squeeze the crumb of this loaf between finger and thumb it springs back and still looks like bread instead of damp kitchen roll.

Spraymalt is still sugar of course, but I’m pretending that it’s not quite as bad as the white stuff. So just pretend along with me, please.

I tried the ball method of filling up the pullman tin which I had seen several of the other Mellow Bakers try. It took me just as long to weigh out four equal balls of dough, shape and squeeze into the tin as it would to make one piece to go in there and from an aesthetic point of view I don’t think it looks that wonderful.  Of course it makes no difference at all to the slices and if it makes life easier for you then give it a go.  I’ve scaled the recipe down here to give enough to fit one  13 inch Pullman tin,  just over 1.3 kg of dough.

  • 382 g strong bread flour
  • 382 g very strong bread flour
  • 504 g water
  • 15 g soft butter
  • 15 g salt
  • 10 g light spraymalt or sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast

Method when starting late in the afternoon….

  • Mix the above together well. Abandon half way through to have dinner. Go back and mess around with it a bit more.You could call this the autolyse phase, but I think that this would be a slight exaggeration.
  • Leave to prove in a warm cupboard while you fall asleep on the sofa for an hour and a half. Shape and put in tin.
  • Return to sofa for another hour or so. Get depressed watching the news so read about Viennoiserie in Michel Suas ‘Advanced Bread and Pastry’. Fantasize once again about making croissants. (Still haven’t made them by the way)
  • Put oven on to 210 º C.
  • Take dog out for short walk in the rain.
  • Return and dry dog.
  • Slide lid on pullman. Put in oven. Timer on for 45 minutes.
  • Return to sofa. Finally leap up, find cooling rack, take tin out of oven,  slide lid off (the exciting bit!) and watch loaf slide out like a cubist seal off a granite rock into a still and sunlit sea, yes it really was that good –  leaving a tin that doesn’t need to be cleaned. Hooray!
  • Leave to cool. Come down in morning to find loaf about to be consumed. Demand photos are taken before it’s all gone.  The moral of this tale: Anyone can bake bread and still spend most of the evening on the sofa. Just give it a try! Forget all the geeky talk and just get mixing.
  • If you don’t have a slidey lid tin then just use any tin you have to hand. I made the full quantity of dough from the original recipe so had about 400 grams over from which I made the little loaf in a superb slim Matfer tin, a brand Mick recommended for a slim high loaf.  I prefer the look of an open topped tin myself. The pullman has an effect a bit like Magic Knickers on the dough, just a bit restricting! And finally, which did we prefer, this one or the Pain de Mie?  Brian voted for this one, said it was the best bread I had made in weeks. He would be happy if this was the only bread I made. Well, it’s not going to be that way….

PS If you hover your mouse over the photos you get to see the titles or ‘captions’. I’ve stopped putting captions directly below the photos for now, or do you prefer the captions?

What shall I bake next?

Or, more importantly, what are you up to in the kitchen this weekend?

Some interesting gluten/dairy/egg free projects coming up in The Guardian from Dan Lepard, starting this week on Saturday…

Edit: I realise from reading Celia’s lovely White Toast Bread post and her questions about this loaf that there is a bit more guidance that I should give anyone who has a go at making this.

Mixing: I mix the sugar or spraymalt, yeast and salt  in with the flour for this recipe.  If you don’t have very strong flour then  you can make this bread perfectly well with regular strong bread flour, the crumb will be softer but you should still get a delicious loaf of bread.  I soften the butter till it is a bit runny in the microwave and add it to the dough once the initial mixing of water, flour, yeast, salt and sugar has been done, some people like to rub the fat into the flour. It’s not going to make a huge difference as the amount of butter is small.

If you use a pullman tin, then you will need to lightly oil the inside of the tin and the lid. Slide the lid on when the dough is about 2 cms from the top and bake at that point.You can bake this in an open tin as well, and you will get a nice domed loaf.

Testing for doneness: If using a pullman you will need to take the loaf out of the oven and tip it out onto a cooling rack and then decide whether it needs more time.  You can test for doneness by tapping the loaf and listening for a very hollow sound, by using a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of the loaf, (a method I only use on very large loaves usually). If you think the loaf could do with a bit longer, just put it back in the oven.  There is a useful tip that I was told a while back, which is that people tend to overbake cake and underbake bread. You will never ruin a loaf of bread by giving it an extra five to ten minutes in the oven. When in doubt give it the extra time!

42 thoughts on “White Bread (Toast Bread)

  1. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Joanna, I love your writing, and your blogposts, and you and Brian. Really truly I do. I’m always very excited when I see a new post of yours pop up in my email. Your square loaf is very refined. I look at pullman tins all the time, and always pass them up – I don’t think I’d manage the whole bit about having to make sure the right amount of dough was in there, and not being able to watch it rise in the oven. However, if I did make even square loaves, I could buy a jaffle maker and make toasted sambos with enclosed fillings..hmmmm.. :)

    What am I going to do this weekend in my kitchen? It’s already started. I have a somewhat dubious, made-up-on-the-fly beef cheek curry in the Romertopf in the oven as I type. If it goes pear-shaped, we will order in. Big Boy has asked for more crumpets. And I think I will spend some time with either Nigel or Yotam this weekend. :)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Celia, I reckon what’ s needed is a library lending system for tins and bannetons. I’m psyching myself up to following your amazing crumpet recipe. Hopefully in the week :) I made dinner last night for friend and us, Nigel Slater pork patties, the ones with lime leaves and chiles, followed by that brandy pastry over apples pie, which leaked everywhere! First 2 course meal I had cooked in ages as there has been an absence of pudding here for three weeks.

  2. spiceandmore

    Ah…I love reading that Brian is making similar demands to my husband Andrew. “Do we HAVE to eat sourdough ALL the time? Why can’t we just have some NORMAL white bread every now and then?” and more whingeing along those lines. I am not alone!! My usual answer is that I don’t choose to make other bread and he just has to get used to it…and then I feel bad and make a yeast white bread. Unfortunately that only encourages him and so the cycle continues…

    I have often wondered who eats all the bread in your house as you certainly seem to make a lot of it! The two people in this house who love sourdough the most should in fact be avoiding gluten. That leaves one who is pretty happy eating sourdough, but a ten year old’s apetite does not do much for the consumption of bread. And one reluctant sourdough eater who cannot be relied on to eat the bread. Lately I have almost given up on bread making which is a shame as I love it. It is good for helping me avoid gluten though!

    I like the look of the new toys you have purchased. Can’t wait to see the bread that emerges from that banneton.

    Thanks for the heads up re Dan Lepard and the Guardian’s gluten free recipes soon to start. Fingers crossed that he posts a good gluten free sourdough bread recipe!

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  4. Paul

    I’m deadly jealous of your Pullman. And of your kitchen, to be honest. But at least some of that is about to change!

    I can thoroughly empathize with the “can’t we have ‘normal’ bread?” complaint. Sigh. Once we’re into the new place and have unpacked the kitchen stuff, I can give this toast bread a go in the new stove. Mark will be tickled.

    That’s some dang nice bread, in spite of being ‘white’.

  5. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Ah, that gave me a good chuckle. How could you resist a fancy pancy looking tin like that… Everyone here seems to like a a little respite from the sourdough as well. Heathens.
    That new banneton…oo la la. How could you not? I have in my mind if ever I get to super geek status to get a super peel. I saw one in action recently and was rather impressed!

  6. C

    I love the way you write! And I personally think that spending your money on tins, bannetons and dogtoys is a far more sensible choice than the night in the pub – after all you have lovely toys to show for your money – what does the pub go-er have?

    I love your photos – really stunning use of light. A fabulous way to show off your delicious bread. I only have myself to please when it comes to making bread, which is a double edged sword – sometimes I really fancy white but then think I ought to be having wholemeal. I think I’ll have to try this one though – it really does look amazing – fabulous crumb.

    What have you got planned for that lovely banneton?

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Only get that light at this time of year, special breadboard morning sunshine in early Spring. It makes everything look instantly glamorous. My kitchen faces South-East so that is the sun coming in the window from the East low in the sky right now.

      I’m pleased everyone likes my silly writing today. Faux Bridget Jones I think.

  7. Matt

    My last, and indeed first, attempt to create a gluten free bread (a couple of weeks ago) was a bit of a disaster. Fully aware that gluten-free bread recipes normally involve lots of wacky ingredients, I stubbornly forged ahead with a millet sourdough anyway.
    I used a bit of rye starter to birth a ‘millet starter’ which I refreshed a couple of times with golden millet flour, before attempting a millet bread with a similar process to Dan Lepards’s 100% rye loaves. I ‘gelatinized’ a portion of millet flour with hot water, and made a fairly wet dough with honey and buttermilk (to try to inject some flavour) and make up for the sourness of the leaven.
    The texture of the final result was great, but the bitter taste left a lot to be desired (translation: it was pretty unpalatable). Most of the loaf is now in the freezer in breadcrumb form. Anyone have any ideas as to how to turn this first debacle around?

    Joanna, thanks for such a self-effacing process description of something actually quite complex. And the open tin loaf looks so perfect. How does that light-coloured crease between the side and the top of the loaf happen?

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Oh Matt, I’ve never attempted a gluten free loaf, though I have read recipes for it. Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial has made Dan Lepard’s Guardian recipe the one with the ‘wacky ingredients’, and was very enthusiastic. She has blogreaders who are chefs who know about glutenfree as well. I’d go on Dan’s forum maybe and ask or have a root around there. The other big bread forum of course is the Fresh Loaf. Do you think the bitterness was from the millet? (I’ve edited this comment to add links above Matt :) )

      As to your second question, I think the crease is just where the dough has split/opened a little when it rose in the oven. The tin looks like this http://tinyurl.com/5vydbfc

  8. gina

    i love the way of your writing! whimsical, playful, full of humour, i enjoy it so much! of course afterwards i ‘m trying to focus on the recipe! to the amazing method above i ‘d like to add one “fragrant” step : after leave to cool (bread), wake up next morning, go to the garden and pick some narcissus tazetta (bunchflower daffodils) moist with dew, then return and savour all nature and culinary beauties with your beloved ones! thank you joanna! :)

  9. heidi

    I am making a sourdough pumpernickle since my whole grain bread eater is coming for a few days this weekend. Otherwise I’ve also been requested to make bread we can toast!
    My pans are not very pretty- that’s why I shape most of my breads- and they look more rustic in the round. I am envious of your banneton, I still haven’t gotten one although I’ve looked at them for years.
    Beautiful bread and fun post, Joanna!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Now sourdough pumpernickel sounds really good. Did you have a look at Franko’s loaf? Rye sourdough with sunflower seeds mmmmm

      I like hand shaping better too, but it’s good to practise everything. Glad you liked the post Heidi :)

  10. Jeannette

    Just joining your ‘fan club’ to say how much I enjoy reading your blog too!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Ah ha, does the method strike a chord in the Fugawe household? :)

      Yes it’s a Chicago Metallic with a sort of glazed finish – imported by Bakery Bits for the delight of English home bakers ;)

  11. Philip Clark

    Great post! … and I love your pullman. Looks like it makes a loaf perfect for toasting or indeed kids sandwiches. You know, I love my sourdough and rustic crusty things as much as the next man but sometimes the kids just want a simple sandwich and this provides the answer. I think a call to BakeryBits is in order and then time for some experimentation!

  12. Tony I

    excellent post and I am very envious of your new toys! Was up at 5.15am to bake a large Olive Oil Ring and low and behold someone had gone and used most of the white flour! After scrabbling around rather bleary eye managed to pull together the ingredients for a large Rye loaf which everyone at home seemed to like and will be gone after breakfast tomorrow!


    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      5.15 am on a Saturday morning? Was this for work or for dedicated family baking? Either way, you sound like a serious baker Tony, thanks for commenting :)

  13. Melanie Corley

    Love the pictures!!! The little loaf is beautiful. I prefer the shape of the non-lidded breads too. Maybe that’s why I’m having trouble convincing myself to buy a pullman pan, but I bet my husband would like the soft white bread. Does it make the bread taste better bake in a pullman, or is it just to get soft crust?

    I think my hubby is looking forward to me getting a starter going, because he really likes sourdough and he’s ready for some to come out of my kitchen. Those are wonderful, new toys. I’ve never seen a banneton quite like that. Anxiously awaiting to see what comes out of it. It is nice when the sunshines streams into the kitchen in the morning isn’t it? My kitchen faces such that I usually get alot of morning sun and I love it. I love your method description!Tucker, my golden retriever, liked the walk part except Mom (me) doesn’t like to take him out in the rain as it makes him smell:) Golden Retrievers don’t look pretty wet and it makes him smell doggy like. I like him to smell like shampoo :) Made some wonderful oatmeal bread this past weekend from Jeffrey’s book. Thanks for the wonderful post!!!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hehe I don’t like walking mine in the rain either, he goes very curly indeed. I haven’t done anything with the banneton yet – it may have to wait a bit, but I promise I will post a pic as soon as I do. LIke the sound of that oatmeal bread Melanie! :) I’ve amalgamated your two comments as I wanted to answer your question about the pullman properly, hope that’s ok – thanks for the message !

      No it doesn’t make it taste better, you do get a thinner crust but we like crusts so it’s not a big deal. I am looking forward to hearing about your sourdough adventures when you get going with your starter. We meet lots of Golden Retrievers when we go out, I had one called Nanook of the North when I was a little girl. I think they are fabulous dogs!

  14. Chocveg

    Hi Joanna, lovely post of white loaves! I had another go at making the multi grain from Mellow Bakers, and decided to mix the pate fermente with the cooled grains, and this did the trick, as well as a bit more mixing! Bit short of whole wheat flour, but spelt whole wheat seemed to do the trick! I also made a nice gluten free cake at the end of last week in a tin that a friend had got me for 50p – a lamb tin! It’s a 2-part mould with an amusing lamb, that demanded icing in little white tufty bits all over!! Fun and tasty! We should also be able to swap loaves as well as tins – whatever I make at the weekend has to last the week, sometimes one needs a bit of variety! So this would be a couple of slices of my multi-grain in exchange for a couple of white slices – here *********!!! happy baking week.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      I’ll swap you any time Allison. I am being made redundant though…. Brian has been busy the last few days, first making crumpets and then today decided he needed white bread again and just made his own. I’ll have to start writing posts about philosophy instead :()

  15. Alex from Food 4 Thought

    My husband is also demanding soft crust toast bread + I have just received a pullman tin as a present that looks identical to yours + some friends have just procured me some Hovis granary flour (I’m an expat). Hence, I am here experimenting (on the sofa, LOL!). If you’ll hear again from me it will mean I got a good result. Silence will be ominous! In any case thanks for the tips. Alex.

  16. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Hi Alex! Are you making your pullman with the Hovis flour? It might need a bit more water as wholegrains tend to be more absorbent. Lovely to meet another lazy baker! Let me know how it works out, whatever happens ;)

  17. Alex from Food 4 Thought

    Success! It’s pouring down with rain here and we have just enjoyed a super breakfast with my latest bread. There is nothing to say, hovis granary is unique and unreplicable (I wrote a post not long ago on my efforts to do just that). I’ve adapted of course the recipe to ingredients and conditions. The pullman worked fine though I was a bit conservative with dough size for fear of overspilling. So it didn’t quite fill it up but I am sure the cover helped to keep a softer crust. I shall post results soon.
    A question for you, I love your blog and you have been on my blogroll since ever. But I are you not posting anymore? Come back to it, I am sure I am not the only one who misses getting new inspirations from you. Cheers – Alex
    P.S.: And you are form Bristol! The city that holds a dear and special place in my heart as it is where I graduated all those many years ago!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hooray ! Success is wonderful!

      Hovis is a formula bread with secret ingredients or a particular variety of malted grain I think. You can read about malting and the different sorts of grain on the Muntons website, Bakery Bits sell some of their malted products, I haven’t experimented much with them. Spraymalt is easily available though in brewshops and online home beer making sites.

      Glad to hear the pullman worked for you. It’s hard to figure out the dough quantities as it will vary from formula to formula. No idea why your blogroll doesn’t refresh, the other way to subscribe to blogs is via an RSS feed, I think I have buttons for that somewhere in the sidebar. I’ve lived in Bristol since 1995, I was also here as a student in the late Seventies… It’s changed a bit since then, the docks in particular have been completely transformed in the last fifteen years. I was born and bred in London and that’s where I grew up.

  18. spiceandmore

    I came hunting for a new yeast loaf to make for school lunches. Made it with half spelt and half bakers wheat flour. Very nice, thank you. The spelt makes it feel slightly more nutritious and substantial…but maybe I am just kidding myself!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi, I’m up late, so nice to hear from you. I made toast bread yesterday with a mixture of spelt and wheat too. That’s the bread on the recent “F” post. I reduce the yeast, throw in a little sourdough for flavour and left the sugar out but it’s more or less this recipe I guess. I have been making them up as I go along lately. I don’t think you are kidding yourself at all that the spelt makes it more nutritious. I think I used 1/3 spelt to 2/3 wheat flour in the one I did. I’m not too keen on pure spelt on its own, I do find it makes a dense bread but one day I might find a way to do it that I like :)

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    1. Joanna Post author

      Hello there! i am having a blog break right now, but hope to be back soon and will catch up with you in a bit. thanks for visiting me :)

  20. Lynne

    new tip… don’t over spray with non-stick spray. It will pool at the bottom, mix with the steam and leave you with soggy white corners that don’t brown even when you put it back in the oven…

    1. Joanna Post author

      Good point, very tricky sometimes greasing things with little corners and angles, same thing can happen with bundt tin and panodoro moulds. I confess I find butter all together easier and less likely to pool.

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