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Old-Fashioned Sandwich Loaf

by . Featured in COOK EAT REPEAT
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Introduction

While the everyday bread on my table is generally Jim Lahey's round, crackle-crusted Basic No-Knead Bread or some variant thereof, there are times when I just want a slice of old-school, tender-crumbed bread, and this Old-Fashioned Sandwich Loaf exactly fits the bill. As its name suggests, it is perfect for sandwiches - be they bacon, sausage, egg, fish finger - and the bread I always use for my Fried Chicken Sandwich if a good burger bun is not to be found. It also just happens to make the most wonderful toast.

It is my reworking of Dan Lepard’s Sour Cream Sandwich Bread, only I use spoilt milk instead of sour cream, adding butter to make up the fat, but quantities are given for either version below. And should you need it to be vegan, simply replace the spoilt milk with plant-based yogurt and the butter with vegetable fat, and reduce the salt and sugar to 1 teaspoon each. Whichever way you make it, it is a triumph, and bafflingly easy: the most stringent demand on you, in the course of making it, is that you knead it 3 times for 10 seconds at 10-minute intervals. What are you waiting for?

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

While the everyday bread on my table is generally Jim Lahey's round, crackle-crusted Basic No-Knead Bread or some variant thereof, there are times when I just want a slice of old-school, tender-crumbed bread, and this Old-Fashioned Sandwich Loaf exactly fits the bill. As its name suggests, it is perfect for sandwiches - be they bacon, sausage, egg, fish finger - and the bread I always use for my Fried Chicken Sandwich if a good burger bun is not to be found. It also just happens to make the most wonderful toast.

It is my reworking of Dan Lepard’s Sour Cream Sandwich Bread, only I use spoilt milk instead of sour cream, adding butter to make up the fat, but quantities are given for either version below. And should you need it to be vegan, simply replace the spoilt milk with plant-based yogurt and the butter with vegetable fat, and reduce the salt and sugar to 1 teaspoon each. Whichever way you make it, it is a triumph, and bafflingly easy: the most stringent demand on you, in the course of making it, is that you knead it 3 times for 10 seconds at 10-minute intervals. What are you waiting for?

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Old-Fashioned Sandwich Loaf
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Makes: 1 beautiful loaf

Metric Cups
  • 500 grams strong white bread flour plus more for dusting
  • 2½ teaspoons (7g) or 1 x 7g/¼oz sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) fine sea salt
  • 125 millilitres spoilt milk (or sour cream) straight from the fridge
  • 150 millilitres cold water
  • 100 millilitres hot water from a just-boiled kettle
  • 3 x 15ml tablespoons (45g) soft unsalted butter (omit if using sour cream, plus more for greasing tin)
  • vegetable oil for kneading
  • 4 cups (500g) strong white bread flour plus more for dusting
  • 2½ teaspoons (7g) or 1 x 7g/¼oz sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) fine sea salt
  • ½ cup spoilt milk (or sour cream) straight from the fridge
  • ⅔ cup cold water
  • 7 tablespoons hot water from a just-boiled kettle
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) soft unsalted butter (omit if using sour cream, plus more for greasing tin)
  • vegetable oil for kneading

Method

You will need a 2lb/900g loaf tin - dimensions vary, but as a guide, mine has internal measurements of 24 x 12 x 8cm / 9.5 x 5 x 3in.

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the spoilt milk (or sour cream) into a measuring jug, add the cold water (which will take you to the 275ml / 1½ cups mark) then the boiling water (and I’m presuming you don’t need me to say that it should now read 375ml). Stir the soft butter into the jug; it won’t melt entirely, but that’s fine.
  3. Pour the jug of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring as you go, either with a wooden spoon, a Danish dough whisk or – and these are my tools of choice here – hands. Stir until all the flour – apart from a little that’s clinging to the sides of the bowl – is absorbed into the dough; if this takes a minute I’d be surprised. Form into a rough ball, cover the bowl with food wrap or a shower cap, and leave for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour a little oil onto the kitchen counter and spread it with your hand to give a light sheen to an area big enough to knead on. Take the dough out of its bowl and duly knead it for 10 seconds. How you knead is very personal: we all have our different styles; I push the dough away with the heel of my hand and bring it back with my fingers. Form the dough back into a ball, return it to its bowl, cover it again, and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat this process twice, and after the third 10-second knead, form the dough into a ball again, put it back in the bowl, cover, and leave for an hour.
  5. Line the bottom of a 2lb/900g loaf tin and very lightly grease the sides; I use an old butter wrapper for this. Take the plumptiously risen dough out of its bowl, and pat it out on your oiled surface so that you have a soft, puffy mattress about 2cm thick, with one edge about 4cm shorter than the length of your tin. Starting with this edge, and using both hands, tightly roll the dough into a scroll – or swiss roll, if that helps you visualise it better – and tenderly place it seam side down in your prepared tin; you may have to press the short sides gently to fit it in, as the scroll can get longer as you roll. Leave to rise for 1–1½ hours, until it’s peeking out just above the top of the tin. Turn the oven on when it looks like it’s nearly there.
  6. So, heat the oven to 200℃/180℃ Fan/400°F. Dust the top of the dough with flour and bake for 45 minutes, by which time the bread will be risen, with a rounded and deep biscuity-gold top. Unless your oven is misfiring, it will definitely be done. Armed with oven gloves, quickly take the bread out of the tin, and place it on a wire rack to cool before slicing into it. To keep the loaf fresh for as long as possible, store in a bread bin. The next best method is to wrap it in a tea towel.

You will need a 2lb/900g loaf tin - dimensions vary, but as a guide, mine has internal measurements of 24 x 12 x 8cm / 9.5 x 5 x 3in.

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the spoilt milk (or sour cream) into a measuring jug, add the cold water (which will take you to the 275ml / 1½ cups mark) then the boiling water (and I’m presuming you don’t need me to say that it should now read 375ml). Stir the soft butter into the jug; it won’t melt entirely, but that’s fine.
  3. Pour the jug of wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring as you go, either with a wooden spoon, a Danish dough whisk or – and these are my tools of choice here – hands. Stir until all the flour – apart from a little that’s clinging to the sides of the bowl – is absorbed into the dough; if this takes a minute I’d be surprised. Form into a rough ball, cover the bowl with food wrap or a shower cap, and leave for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour a little oil onto the kitchen counter and spread it with your hand to give a light sheen to an area big enough to knead on. Take the dough out of its bowl and duly knead it for 10 seconds. How you knead is very personal: we all have our different styles; I push the dough away with the heel of my hand and bring it back with my fingers. Form the dough back into a ball, return it to its bowl, cover it again, and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat this process twice, and after the third 10-second knead, form the dough into a ball again, put it back in the bowl, cover, and leave for an hour.
  5. Line the bottom of a 2lb/900g loaf tin and very lightly grease the sides; I use an old butter wrapper for this. Take the plumptiously risen dough out of its bowl, and pat it out on your oiled surface so that you have a soft, puffy mattress about 2cm thick, with one edge about 4cm shorter than the length of your tin. Starting with this edge, and using both hands, tightly roll the dough into a scroll – or swiss roll, if that helps you visualise it better – and tenderly place it seam side down in your prepared tin; you may have to press the short sides gently to fit it in, as the scroll can get longer as you roll. Leave to rise for 1–1½ hours, until it’s peeking out just above the top of the tin. Turn the oven on when it looks like it’s nearly there.
  6. So, heat the oven to 200℃/180℃ Fan/400°F. Dust the top of the dough with flour and bake for 45 minutes, by which time the bread will be risen, with a rounded and deep biscuity-gold top. Unless your oven is misfiring, it will definitely be done. Armed with oven gloves, quickly take the bread out of the tin, and place it on a wire rack to cool before slicing into it. To keep the loaf fresh for as long as possible, store in a bread bin. The next best method is to wrap it in a tea towel.

Additional Information

STORE:
Store in airtight container or wrapped in clean tea towel in cool place for 4-5 days.

FREEZE:
Freeze loaf or slices in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible, for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature. Layer slices with baking parchment or food wrap if using individually. Slices can be toasted from frozen.

STORE:
Store in airtight container or wrapped in clean tea towel in cool place for 4-5 days.

FREEZE:
Freeze loaf or slices in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible, for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature. Layer slices with baking parchment or food wrap if using individually. Slices can be toasted from frozen.

Tell us what you think

What 33 Others have said

  • I concurr, this is an excellent base recipe. I've baked this loaf in Europe as is, and also in 2 8x30cm forms (cut the baking time in half); the recipe lends itself well to additions (raisins, spices), especially when baked in two pans. This is also an excellent beginner bread to teach to children, as it always comes out right. Thank-you for this recipe!

    Posted by memom on 24th April 2021
  • Brilliant recipe, I have been baking this bread twice a week since beginning of February.Today I made it with 400g strong white and 100g multigrain flour and result is fantastic.

    Posted by jalebailey on 26th March 2021
  • Posted my comment regarding this recipe on 21st January 2021- best bread recipe EVER!. Here is an update. Since then, I have tried with lager (275ml) instead of the spoilt milk and cold water, added the 45g butter. Result, best loaf ever according to my husband. I am planning on 50% bread flour, 30% wholemeal and 20% white rye.

    Posted by gnili3p on 18th March 2021
  • It’s a Beautiful Beautiful Bread recipe. I have tried a few and none were this fluffy and the aroma oh my gosh ! I felt like I was in a baking school and done something amazing ! Found myself talking to myself alone in the kitchen until hubby asked what’s the matter and couldn’t believe it smelled just like one of the best breads in shops and even better !!!! Thank you so much Nigella I Watch Love Repeat your videos ... this is my go to Bread recipe by far - with love From Australia

    Posted by PrajB on 14th February 2021
  • Totally brilliant recipe. Made my first loaf two days ago, using some leftover homemade yoghurt, and it turned out perfect; just starting the second loaf off now!

    Posted by AtEditorialCat on 11th February 2021
  • What a fabulous loaf! Thank you, Nigella for another towering tour de force. First time I found it too sweet so next time I left out the sugar and substituted 200g of white for wholemeal flour. Absolutely delish!

    Posted by Mrs_Lovett on 9th February 2021
  • I used kefir instead of spoilt milk for my second attempt and it turned out beautifully. Such an absolute winner, this recipe.

    Posted by The1Deniz on 7th February 2021
  • This perfect recipe turned into a magnificiant loaf. I will certaily be going to bake this bread regularly. Thank you Nigella

    Posted by jalebailey on 5th February 2021
  • Agree with everyone here- best recipe for bread-ever! Well, I have only tried two other bread recipe before I try this one. Never in my wildest dream to make bread- it was the ultimate intimidating things to do as far as baking. Saw Eat, Cook and Repeat and thought, hey, this is doable but didn't until I tried my very first bread making with another recipe prior to this one, and, failed. And then I tried another- and, failed. When I tried this recipe the first time, I felt surprisingly comfortable and confident. First loaf came out beautifully. Second, even better. Today, I'm baking my fifth loaf! Family's favourite and my step-son wolves 4 slices per-day! Thank you Nigella! Aside from the great recipe, I felt really good during and after I've make a loaf, everytime!

    Posted by gnili3p on 31st January 2021
  • This recipe has never failed me and is so delicious! I tend to do it in my mixer with the dough hook and just leave it in there between kneads to save on mess and it still comes out beautifully. I usually use sour cream but I’m sure it would work with yoghurt, creme fraiche or buttermilk too.

    Posted by Katymcs on 24th January 2021
  • The Holy Grail of bread recipes. I’ve always struggled before to make a loaf that looks good and tastes good but this Old Fashioned Sandwich Loaf is the business. Works. Every. Time.

    Posted by Lewiscollins on 20th January 2021
  • SO delicious! What a winning recipe, will definitely keep using it. I had a larger loaf tin, so increased everything x 1.5 and it worked out perfectly. I also used milk with lemon juice added instead of the spoilt milk/sour cream. I wonder if Greek Yoghurt would also work? The dough rose very nicely and was super plump after each rise. Thanks Nigella!

    Posted by adr2017 on 20th January 2021
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