Just Bread

At King Arthur, we’re on a mission to change sandwich bread. In partnership with the Bread Lab, our bakers developed the ultimate loaf. Nutritious, wholesome, and great-tasting — without the artificial ingredients and additives often found in grocery store breads. What sandwich bread should be: Just Bread! Just Bread is baked daily in our Norwich, Vermont bakery and sold at our café, as well as local grocery stores.

Prep
30 mins
Bake
33 to 37 mins
Total
17 hrs
Yield
one 9" x 5" (2 1/4-pound) loaf
Just Bread

Instructions

  1. To make the levain: Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and set aside to rest at room temperature for 12 to 14 hours.

  2. To make the dough: Combine the levain with 1 1/2 cups (340g) of the water in the bowl of a stand mixer.

  3. Weigh your flours; or measure them by gently spooning them into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

  4. Add the flours and remaining ingredients to the bowl with the levain and water. Turn the mixer (equipped with a dough hook) to low speed to incorporate the ingredients, then knead the dough for about 3 minutes, stopping the mixer early on to scrape the bowl if necessary.

  5. Turn the mixer up one speed and continue to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup (57g) water about a tablespoon (about 14g) at a time roughly every 2 minutes (see tip below). At the end of kneading the dough should be smooth and elastic, though still tacky; you’ll know it’s ready when you can stretch a small piece of it thin enough to see through it (the windowpane test).

  6. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover it, and let it rest for 45 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and stretch and fold it four times. If you think of the dough as a compass, start with the north edge, pulling it away from you then folding it back so that the edge lines up with the center of the dough. Gently dust off any excess flour and repeat this process with the southern edge, followed by east and west. Turn the dough over so the seam side is down, place it back in the bowl, cover, and let it rest for another 45 to 75 minutes.

  7. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, and gently pat it down to de-gas it. Fold the dough in half once to make a semicircle, then again to make a quarter circle. Roll the dough so the seams face down and with a circular motion, gently form it into a ball. Place the ball, seam side down, on a floured surface and cover lightly with plastic wrap or your favorite reusable cover. Let the loaf rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

  8. Turn the dough over so the seam is facing up, dust off any excess flour, and form the dough into a tight 9” loaf. Thinking of the dough as a compass again, fold the northwest and northeast “corners” into the center followed by the northern edge. Repeat this process to form a tight log, releasing some excess gas in the process.

  9. Place the loaf into a lightly greased 9” x 5” loaf pan, cover, and let it rise (proof) at warm room temperature until it’s crowned 1” to 1 1/4” over the rim of the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  10. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

  11. Make a 1/2" to 3/4"-deep slash down the length of the loaf, if desired; this will help avoid it blowing out on one side.

  12. Bake the loaf at 425°F for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 33 to 37 minutes longer, until the loaf is golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center reads at least 195°F.

  13. Remove the loaf from the oven and turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.

  14. Store bread well wrapped at room temperature for three to five days. Freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • As the dough develops more strength during the kneading phase, you’ll find you're able to incorporate more water without compromising the dough's structure. The end result will be a softer, moister loaf of bread. 

  • Want to make this bread by hand, without a stand mixer? Replace steps 2 through 6 above with the following:

    • Mix the levain with the remaining dough ingredients (using 1 3/4 cups water) and mix vigorously, by hand, until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover the dough, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
    • Uncover the bowl and over the course of the next hour, fold the dough every 15 minutes; the folding technique is outlined in step #6 above. If the dough is still feeling slack after its final fold, give it another one or two folds (waiting 15 minutes in between), until it feels springy and easy to work with.
    • Once the folds are complete, cover the dough and let it rest for 1 hour.
    • After 1 hour continue with the recipe above, starting at step #7.
  • We don't advise making this bread start to finish in a bread machine; the timing of the recipe steps isn't a great fit. We highly recommend this recipe instead: 100% Whole Wheat Bread for the Bread Machine.

  • Join King Arthur baker Martin Philip and his family as they bake Just Bread together, start to finish. Watch Martin Bakes at Home - Just Bread now.

  • To make rolls: Prepare the dough through step 6, above. Gently deflate it, divide the dough into 12 pieces (about 80g each), and round them into balls. For soft-sided pull-apart rolls, place them in two 8" round cake pans; for rolls with more crust, space them a couple of inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Let the rolls rise until they're quite puffy, about 1 hour. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for about 18 minutes, or until they're golden brown and the interior temperature of one of the rolls measures at least 190°F. Remove the rolls from the oven, brush them with melted butter, if desired, and cool on a rack.

    Just Bread made into rolls