It just isn’t summer until you’ve had your first tomato sandwich! Ginormous, crimson-red, juicy, beefsteak tomatoes, fresh-picked from the garden! Eaten standing over the sink…with fresh tomato juice running down your chin and down your forearms to your elbows!
And it only gets better when you layer them on creamy mayo-slathered, homemade white bread! A little sprinkling of salt & pepper on the tomatoes, and you’ve just had a simple, but exquisite, quintessential taste of summer!
Oh, you can place those gorgeous tomatoes that you’ve slaved and toiled over, tending to and watering for months in the fiery sun, onto store-bought bread….but why would you want to do that? To get the whole, straight from the farm to kitchen table experience, homemade is the only way to go!
There’s just something so comforting and therapeutic about making and baking your own bread!
The smells from the bread baking can almost make you weep it smells so good! Right up there with the smell of a fresh pot of coffee brewing and bacon frying in a cast iron skillet!
Which brings us to the second most important sandwich of the summer – – a big ol’, piled high, bacon, lettuce and garden tomato sandwich!
So don’t put all that homegrown goodness onto airy, squishy bread that turns wet and mushy as soon as you put anything substantial and worthy on it. (That store-bought bread used to be a whole lot better when I was a kid, that’s for sure.)
I wanted my summer sandwiches on something much better and handmade. Don’t you? 😀
Homemade bread is actually one of the simplest things on earth to make. Staple ingredients. Made simple. Just as people have been doing for literally thousands of years.
So let’s just get to it!
You just add your dry ingredients to your mixer bowl with your shortening, mix, add your warm milk and mix, then slowly mix in the rest of your flour and knead well. That truly is basically all there is to it really.
(Sorry that I forgot to take pics until I was way ahead of those first steps!)
You then place your dough into a greased bowl and let it rise! I love to use my oven with the light on for this! It makes for a nice, warm, draft-free home for it to rise beautifully every time! 😀
Once your dough has doubled, just punch it down and divide it in half. Roll each half on a lightly floured surface to make a rectangle, and roll up! Pinch ends as you roll then pinch the seam closed. Tuck the pinched ends under and place into greased pans.
I like to spray them with butter-flavored, no-stick oil at this point, then loosely cover them to rise a second time in the slightly warm oven with just the light on.
Remove the loaves and preheat your oven, remove the plastic wrap carefully, and pop in to bake!
When there’s just 10 minutes left, remove the loaves and baste the tops with some melted butter, then pop them back into the oven to finish baking. Basting them with melted butter will help brown the tops!
When done, and the loaves are a gorgeous deep color on top and sound hollow when tapped, remove from the oven.
Then lastly, remove the loaves from the pans and baste the tops with the rest of the butter! By this time, you’re going to have to rope off the kitchen if you want this bread to last more than 5 seconds….trust me!
Which is actually a good thing. The one thing about homemade bread is that it doesn’t keep as well as manufactured. But that’s ok! 😀 It doesn’t have all those preservatives and chemicals in it, so just make sure that you have a good plan to use it all promptly. (I always like to share a loaf with neighbors, myself. 😉 )
Make sure you use a sharp, serrated bread knife to slice the bread, and always wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place into a baggie or airtight container to boot. That will keep it fresh enough to last for about 3 days.
If it gets a little dry, it’s great for french toast, bread pudding, stuffing, and grilled sandwiches of all kinds! There’s never any waste that way! 😉 You can of course even make your own breadcrumbs.
I have, on RARE occasion, even treated the birds to the tail end of it. 😉 I have VERY spoiled birds!! 😀
Once you make homemade bread once, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is, and you’ll flip over how wonderful it smells baking. (Is there a more enticing aroma?)
So try your hand at it, and adjust the flour to more or less as needed, and enjoy a gorgeous loaf of homemade bread for your next BLT with homegrown tomatoes! 😀