Julia Child's Perfect Sandwich Bread


This classic white bread recipe is perfect for everyday sandwiches.

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs
2 loaves


  • 2 1/2 cups warm water

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 cup starter (see note)

  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


  1. Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a large bowl and stir in yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, until yeast dissolves and becomes foamy. (If the yeast doesn't do anything, discard and buy fresh yeast.)

  2. Add remaining water, starter, and 3 cups of the flour. Stir until well blended. Add 3 more cups of the flour, salt and butter and stir with the dough hook (or by hand) until well combined and shaggy; add remaining 1/2 cup flour if dough is too wet. Knead dough by hand 10 minutes (or 5 minutes in a stand mixer), until smooth and elastic. Shape dough into a ball. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  3. Butter two 9x5-inch loaf pans. Punch dough down, divide in half and shape each half into a rectangle about 9 by 12 inches. Starting at a short end of one dough rectangle, fold into thirds, like a letter. Place dough seam side down in loaf pan, tucking in ends if needed. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with dish towel and let rest 1 hour, until dough fills each pan completely, and loaves are puffy and have risen above the top of each pan.

  4. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 425°F, with rack in the middle of the oven. Bake loaves until tops are puffed and a rich brown color, 20 minutes. Cover loaves loosely with foil, reduce heat to 375° and bake for 20 minutes longer. Immediately turn the loaves out of their pans and onto a rack to cool.


A bit of starter (also known as a sponge, poolish or biga) gives it a superior flavor and texture and improves the loaf's keeping qualities. This is a simple batter of flour, water and yeast that has been allowed to rise and bubble for several hours. To make it, whisk 1/2 cup of tepid water (105°F to 110°F) with 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast and 1 cup all-purpose flour or bread flour in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at a cool room temperature for several hours or overnight. It will rise and form big bubbles and then sink down, at which time it is ready to use. You can also cover and refrigerate it for several days.

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