A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your Own Sandwich Bread, Part 1

by Elizabeth on October 26, 2010 · 6 comments

in breakfast and breads, How Tos, recipes, watch me bake

I apologize in advance for the number of photos in this post; if you are on dial-up, I suggest you skip this post and come back tomorrow.  I also apologize for the quality of photos here; I am a very poor photographer.

Last month I wrote a post answering some of your questions about making bread and at the end, I promised a step-by-step photo demonstration on how I make bread.  Well, here it is.  This is my version of a tutorial on making sandwich bread.  I’ve had to divide the post up in two parts because it’s so long, so look for Part 2tomorrow.

The recipe and directions without photos for my wheat sandwich bread can be found here.

First, you want to assemble your ingredients, wheat and unbleached all-purpose flour, instant yeast, milk, butter, sugar, and salt.  I’m making a Weight-Watches friendly sandwich bread today, so I’m using fat-free milk, SmartBalance buttery spread, and Splenda.  You can (and probably should) use real butter and sugar, and 1-2% milk.


In a large, microwave-safe measuring cup, combine milk, butter, sugar, and salt.  Heat until warm but not hot, about 110 to 120 degrees.  A digital thermometer (can be purchased at any large grocery store or super store) makes measuring temperatures very easy.


While the milk mixture is warming, add 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (or one package) to the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.


Add 1 1/4 cups wheat flour and 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour and mix on very low, just until combined.

Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the milk mixture.

Once all the milk has been added, turn the mixer to medium and mix for 3 minutes until it’s smooth and runny.  It should look like this:



Add 1 1/4 cups wheat flour and 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour.  You will now have added 5 cups total.  Mix at low to medium speed until all the flour has been absorbed.



Study your bread: is it very soft?  Touch it: is it very sticky? will it knead well without sticking to you, the counter, everywhere?  If any of your answers is yes, then you need to add more flour.  With the mixer on just enough to incorporate the flour (you may need to lock it to keep it from jumping all over the counter), add in all purpose flour, a little bit at a time.  I find that I probably need to add between 1/3 and 2/3 of cup depending on the day.  You want your bread to be soft, kneadable, but not very sticky.


It’s best to err on the side of caution.  You can always add more flour, but you can’t take it out!  If you are worried about adding too much flour, generously flour your counter (and your hands!) and knead more flour in with your hands, just enough to keep it from sticking to the counter.



Scoop out your dough onto a floured surface and pat it into a ball.  You are now ready to knead.



Are you nervous?  This is what most people fear when it comes to making bread.  Kneading is not difficult! It just takes time, patience, and a little practice.

Start at the top of your dough ball: fold the top part down about half way to the middle.



Now push with the heels of your hands.



Make a quarter turn, fold it over and push it again.  Keep making quarter turns and repeating the process.  If the dough feels sticky to your hands or sticks to the counter, add more flour.  I usually add about a teaspoon of flour at a time.  You don’t want to add too much flour or your bread will be dry.


Tip: Don’t be overly gentle with your bread! Wheat bread especially, can be fairly tough and you will need some to use your strength to push the bread down.  Remember: fold, push, turn, fold, push, turn.  Get into a rhythm and kneading will become very simple.

You want to knead for about 5 minutes.  If you were cautious and didn’t add that much flour and choose to knead it in instead, you may need to knead for longer, closer to 10 minutes.  When you think you have kneaded enough, give your bread a little poke.  If the indentation your finger left fills in quickly, then it’s ready to rise.  If the indentation is a little slow to fill in, keep kneading.  Check every minute or so to see if it’s ready.



When your bread is ready for it’s first rise, put it in a tall bowl (the one you mixed it in is fine) and cover with a damp tea towel.  I like to heat my towel in the microwave for about 15 seconds because bread likes a warm, humid environment, but you of course don’t have to do that.  Put your covered bowl in a warm, draft-free place.  I like under the counter lights, near the wall for my rising place.  For more on the right towels and good rising places, check out the second question in my Bread Q&A post.



Allow your bread to rise for 1 hour.

Tomorrow we’ll pick up here with more on rising and then we’ll cover shaping and baking.

Is this helpful to you?  Do you feel more comfortable with the beginning part of the bread making process now?

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday and Real Food Deals.



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Colean October 26, 2010 at 8:07 pm

This is fab! Thanks for posting 🙂 I've been using a bread maker, but I find with wheat bread specifically, it makes a realllly dense loaf of bread. Maybe making it by hand will make it a little softer.


2 Elizabeth October 28, 2010 at 3:05 am

Wheat bread does tend to make a very dense bread. If the recipe calls for all wheat flour, try substituting in 1/2 all purpose or bread flour and see if it gets better. And you should try making your own. I promise it's not hard! Let me know how it goes when you do!


3 Colean October 28, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I'll give it a shot next week. This week's going to be potato bread 🙂 I tend to rely on my bread maker because, lets face it, it's idiot proof. I don't buy the bread maker mixes though and just use bread recipes for it. When I get around to making another loaf of wheat I'll half/half it because I have all 3 flours around the house and see if that's better. I tend to swap up the breads depending on what flours, addins, etc I have in my pantry. Last week it was white french because I was out of just about everything heh, next I think I'm going to try some nice dark molasses bread. I'm having so much fun experimenting with different types of breads now that I stopped buying it at the store. There's really nothing better than fresh bread!


4 Elsa October 29, 2010 at 12:55 am

I love homemade bread. We actually stopped buying bread at the store. And the pics look great!


5 Meg February 20, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Hi, I just wanted to make a comment on the yeast you are using. Since you are instructing your readers to put the yeast in with the flours, etc. and doing the wet ingredients separately, you are obviously using INSTANT or RAPID RISE yeast. Regular Dry Active Yeast requires a proofing first or the bread won't rise properly at all. This proof is putting the yeast (not instant or rapid rise) in very warm water with a little sugar, Stir and let it rest 10 minutes until very frothy. Then begin the recipe. Great recipe.


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