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Handmade Artisan Sandwich Bread

With Randy Thompson from Franklin's House of Bread

Randy Thompson moved to Franklin in 1991 from Mississippi. "I was the Vice-President of an engineering firm at the time, and Mayor Bredesen had put me on a team of other consultants to help with new environmental initiatives in the city. I tell people I moved here when people in Franklin still had livestock in their yards and you could pull over almost anywhere and buy fresh eggs."

Fast forward to five years ago when Thompson switched from engineering to baking. "During my Bible studies one morning, I plainly heard a voice tell me: “I want you to learn how to make bread.” So I ordered a bunch of books to read online. I had never made bread in my life. The books made no sense to me. But I busily mixed and baked and burnt loaf after loaf of really bad bread. My garbage can was full every week of really awful bread. And just when I was ready to ditch the whole thing, a loaf turned out both beautiful and delicious. I was hooked, but still I burnt a lot of bread. The pastor at my church heard what I was doing and urged me to make the church’s Communion Bread, so that gave me a good incentive to keep going and trying different things. Then I heard that the church staff were eager to get the leftover bread, and then family and friends started asking for it, so I was gradually becoming a baker. It was an overnight success that was 5 years in the making."

Today, Franklin House of Bread is merging with Franklin Bakehouse with Randy being the Master Baker. "We will be right on the corner in the
bottom floor of the new Harpeth Square Apartments. Hopefully, up and running by the end of May. I’m very excited about it. Angie {owner of Franklin Bakehouse} is very passionate and creative and gave me full-rein to bake the best bread possible both for the Bakehouse’s use and for us to sell to customers. I want the Bakehouse to be wildly successful. And part of that is providing great bread." 

SIMPLE SANDWICH BREAD 

Dough Starter (Sponge): minimum 1 hour, maximum 24 hours

Minimum Rising Time: about 4 hours

Oven Temperature: 350°F

Baking Time: 50 minutes

Makes: two 8-by-4-by-4 1/2-inch-high loaves 

SPONGE

All-Purpose Flour or Bread Flour  2 1/4 cups + 2 1/2 tbsp

Water, Room Temperature 1 3/4 cups

Honey 2 tbsp + 1 tsp

Instant Yeast 3/4 tsp

Mix Sponge together for about 2 minutes, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, then let ferment for anywhere from 1-24 hours.

FINAL DOUGH

All-Purpose Flour or Bread Flour 2 cups + 3 tbsps

Dry Milk Powder 1/4 cup

Instant Yeast 3/4 tsp

Salt 1/3 tsp

Butter, Softened 9 tbsps

Place mixed final dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let ferment for 1-4 hours at room temperature. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and cut in half. Form the dough into two small logs. Grease up baking pans and place dough inside. Dough should be about 1/2 inch from top of loaf pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Preheat oven to 350°. When dough has risen about 1-inch above the sides of the pan, it’s ready to bake. Rising time may take up to 90 minutes. Bake for about 50 minutes (turn the pan around about halfway through) until a cake tester comes out clean, or an instant read thermometer reads about 210°. Remove loaf pan from oven and brush with butter if you want. As soon as loaf pan has cooled enough (5 minutes or so) unmold the loaf and let it rest on a wire rack until it is barely warm. This will take about an hour, but it is crucial for the interior of the loaf to set and not be gummy. It’s also crucial for air to circulate around the loaf, especially the bottom to avoid the bottom getting soggy. If you don’t have a wire rack, improvise with three or four butter knives on a cutting board. Place loaf on top and let cool. Slice with a bread knife and enjoy. When you toast it, set your toaster and about 50% to avoid burning. You can always keep toasting it a little more to get it just right. After slicing just store bread in a gallon ZipLoc bag. Should stay fresh for about a week, if it lasts that long.

TIP - This is my favorite bread for banana sandwiches which are not toasted. A slight toast allows the bread to hold up to a roast beef or fish sandwich.

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