A Brief History of White Bread: From Luxury to Staple
For centuries, white bread was a luxury reserved for the wealthy. From ancient Egypt to medieval Europe, bread was often made with grains such as barley and rye, which were more readily available and less expensive than wheat. However, as trade routes expanded and manufacturing techniques improved, wheat bread became more accessible to the masses.
By the early 20th century, white bread had become a symbol of progress and prosperity in the United States. Innovations in milling, such as the introduction of the steel roller mill in the late 1800s, made it possible to produce flour that was whiter and finer than ever before. As a result, bread made from this flour had a softer texture and longer shelf life, which made it more appealing to consumers.
However, in the mid-20th century, concerns about the health consequences of processed, white flour began to arise. Some researchers argued that the bleaching process used to whiten flour removed important nutrients and fiber, increasing the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. As a result, many people began to seek out whole grain and artisanal breads, which were perceived as healthier and more natural.
Despite these concerns, white bread has remained a staple in many households. And for good reason! There’s nothing quite like a fresh loaf of homemade bread straight out of the oven. This recipe for Classic White Bread with King Arthur Flour is easy to make and guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Give it a try and taste the difference for yourself!
Ask the Chef: Pro Tips for making Classic White Bread with King Arthur Flour
Measuring Flour Correctly
Measuring flour correctly is important to get the right consistency of bread dough. When measuring flour, use a scale or spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then level with a knife. Do not pack the flour, or you may end up with a dry and tough loaf.
Using the Right Water Temperature
It’s essential to use lukewarm water, not too hot or too cold. Water that is too hot can kill the yeast, resulting in a dense and brick-like bread. On the other hand, cold water will slow down the yeast activation process and may affect the bread’s rise.
Kneading the Dough
Kneading the dough for the appropriate amount of time is crucial to create a chewy, light, and airy texture. Make sure to use a dough hook attachment to save time and effort. Dough should be kneaded for at least 5-7 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
Rising the Dough
Rising the dough is an important step in any bread recipe. Let the dough rise in a draft-free place where it can double in size in approximately an hour. If the room is too cold, try placing the bowl in a turned-off oven with the oven light turned on.
Get the Crispy Crust
The secret to a crispy crust is simple: steam. To achieve a satisfying crispy crust, place a pan of hot water on the lowest shelf of the oven while baking the bread.
Rest the Bread Properly Before Slicing
Once you’ve removed the bread from the oven, let it cool on a wire rack before slicing. Slicing hot bread can cause the bread to become gummy and not hold its shape. Plus, a properly cooled bread will have a better flavor and texture when sliced.