Monday, October 10, 2011

Best Sandwich Bread EVER

Last night I made some sloppy joes. Now, I don't really like sloppy joes (Clint does), but these were sloppy joes with a Vietnamese twist. And you can pretty much give any dish and Asian twist and I'll try it. But when we ate the sandwiches, what blew us away was not the sloppy joes (they were totally fine) but the sandwich bread. The sloppy joes recipe wanted to be put on French bread, and of course I didn't feel like going to the store, so you know me, I'll just make some. I googled "french bread recipe" and made the first recipe I found... which was ridiculously amazing. This is my new favorite sandwich bread. Forget your wonder bread, your healthy multi-grain bird seed bread, even your fancy artisan bakery bread. This is an easy-peasy bread recipe and only took me about 2.5 hours start to finish. I cannot wait to make a nice cuban using this bread, or maybe I'll get brave and make a french dip.

Best Sandwich Bread EVER
recipe from
makes 3 grinder roll-sized loaves, each loaf good for 2 sandwiches

2 cups warm water
1T yeast
pinch of sugar
1t salt
1T oil (I used olive)
5-5.5 cups bread flour*

*I used King Arthur's First Clear flour, which is a high gluten flour used in Jewish rye. I'm not sure if it's as high gluten as bread flour, but it has a nice earthy taste to it, kind of like whole wheat flour. I used 4 cups of first clear and 1 cup of whole wheat, and the bread wasn't heavy like whole wheat, but had that kind of hint of flavor to it. I highly recommend the First Clear.

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes for the yeast to wake up. Stir in the salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add 2 more cups of flour and knead for 10 minutes. Let sit in an oiled bowl until doubled, about 1-1.5hrs. Shape into long baguette-shaped loaves (I shaped into 2 loaves, next time I'll make 3 loaves), cover with a towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle with water (liberally) and bake in a 375F preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown.

This bread is crusty without being rock-hard-crunchy, and super soft in the middle. It's still kind of chewy like french bread, not cottony like most grocery store sliced breads, and is my ideal sandwich roll texture. It's not so flavorful it takes away from a sandwich, but it tastes good on its own. You have to try this!!

Vietnamese Sloppy Joes, or Sloppy Baos
recipe modified from Martha Stewart

I halved the recipe, which would serve 4-5, and wanted to use onion instead of shallots

1-1.25lb ground beef (or sub in another ground meat if you like)
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1T chopped lemongrass (I used dried)
2T red curry paste
1 cup ketchup
1T fish sauce
10 basil leaves, minced
1t brown sugar
2T mustard
julienned green mango or green apple
sliced jalapenos
french bread

In a large skillet, brown the meat with the onion, garlic, lemongrass and curry paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the ketchup, fish sauce, half the basil, brown sugar and mustard. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the loaf of french bread lengthwise (like for a grinder/sub) and toast in the oven for about 5-8 minutes.

To assemble the sandwich, spread the sloppy joe mixture on the bottom half of the bread, arrange julienned mango/apple and sliced jalapenos on top, and top with the top half of the bread. Slice the grinder into individual-sized portions and enjoy!

I really only made this dish because we wanted to use up some ground beef in the freezer. Clint loves sloppy joes and used to eat them often before we got married. I kind of can't stand them. But like I said, I'll try almost anything with an asian twist. And.... these were ok. Clint had seconds, so you *know* he liked them. If you're a sloppy joe kind of person, you'll probably like these. And like I said before, the bread is amazing.

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