Walter Sands' Basic White Bread

Walter Sands, one-time president and owner of the King Arthur Flour company, was a member of just one of the many generations of the Sands family associated with the business. Walter made this bread faithfully once a week for years. Because of his arthritic hands, he used a bread bucket with a crank, which kneaded hundreds of loaves of this fragrant, soft sandwich bread with all its happy associations.

Prep
30 mins
Bake
35 to 40 mins
Total
3 hrs
Yield
2 loaves, 32 slices
Walter Sands' Basic White Bread

Instructions

  1. Pour the warm water into a mixing bowl. Add and let dissolve the sugar or honey and then the yeast.

  2. When the yeast is bubbling, add the butter, 3 cups of flour, the dry milk, and salt. Mix together.

  3. Stir in another 2 1/2 cups of flour, keeping the last 1/2 cup in reserve. Knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to behave as if it belongs together. Cover and let the dough rest while you clean and grease the mixing bowl.

  4. Continue kneading for 3 or 4 more minutes, until the dough feels smooth and springy. Use up to 1/2 cup of the reserved flour, if necessary, to keep the dough from sticking to the kneading surface.

  5. Place the dough in the greased bowl, turn it over to coat both sides, and cover the bowl. Let it rise in a draft-free place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. Deflate the dough, and divide it in half. Form into loaves (or make into cinnamon-raisin bread as described in tips, below), and place in greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" pans. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until the dough domes an inch above the rim of the pans.

  6. After the dough has been rising for 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 350°F. When the loaves are sufficiently risen, bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned and the center of the loaves reads 190°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and tip the breads out of their pans. Place on a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Tips from our Bakers

  • You can make this bread richer by using milk instead of water; just bring 2 cups of milk to a simmer, then cool to lukewarm before using.
  • Want to make this bread using a mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle? Combine all of the ingredients except 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix and knead, using your machine of choice, and adding just enough of the remaining 1/2 cup flour (if necessary) to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Continue at step 5, letting the dough rise in a bowl, then finishing the bread as directed.
  • Want to make cinnamon-swirl bread? Roll one (or both) pieces of dough into a rough 9" x 15" rectangle. For each loaf, spread with 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Starting with a short edge, roll into a cylinder. Place the loaf or loaves in the pan, seam-side down, and let rise and bake as directed above.