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Let's talk about white bread

I haven't bought typical white bread for 20 years probably, but a few posts lately have me thinking back on the place it has held in my own food life. St Paul sandwiches are made on white bread, and loose meat sandwiches on white bread buns. In St Louis i was served pork steak from roadside grills laid on a slice of white bread, presumably to catch the grease and sauce.

Baloney sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches, or even PBJ's, don't taste the same anymore. Even just a slice of toast, man.

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  1. I buy white bread once a year, to consume my annual quota of bologna. I need white bread, yellow American cheese and regular bologna. Three sandwiches later I remember why I dont eat it anymore, and the next day my wedding ring barely fits.

    Ive tried gussying up my sandwich with rye, or mortadella, but it doesnt hit that sweet nostalgia spot like the white.

    1. This is a pop song "Let's talk about white bread"

      "Let's talk about white bread, baby"

      1 Reply
      1. If it is good white, and there is good tasting white, not to be eaten all the time, such as daily, there are great items such as mortadella, that can aid in constructing a sandwich, that will be enjoyed.

        I stay away from Boars Head, since the 1990s have done that. If you take your bread seriously, one should take the deli meats if that is what you use, seriously.

        Boars Head is monopoly. It is similar to buying all ones cheese from Land o' Lakes, or such.

        This is more about food industry destroying food, than anything else, for revenue, and gain.

        1. It's a funny thing; if I'm out at a diner for a Western Omelet and home fries, and they ask me "what kind of toast?" I almost invariably answer whole-wheat. It's not true whole wheat, 100% whole wheat, but I really like diner whole-wheat toast. Yet there's something comforting about white bread; we all grew up on it in the US, at least most of us did. White bread, toasted, is comfort food. A cup of tea and white toast when I'm ill is a wonderful thing; it makes me feel better immediately. Grilled cheese on white bread with tomato soup; again, it's a comfort food thing. We routinely have "white bread" in the form of hot dog buns & hamburger buns, and we don't think anything of it. But we put the knock on white bread, when there can be many grades of white bread; there's the really good, homemade or from a quality baker, and there is the really, really bad - like Wonder Bread.

          Nutritionally, white bread is generally speaking, a wasteland. I think all of us get that. However not all of our eating is about nutrition; sometimes, it's about what tastes good, what's familiar, or as I said before, comfort food.

          Some sandwiches cry out for white bread; egg salad with celery - white bread, egg salad with sweet red bell pepper and a little curry powder - pumpernickel. Gimme some rye toast, buttered or spread with peanut butter. There's a place for every bread somewhere on someone's plate. (Especially sourdough and baguettes - but I digress.)

          1. Grilled cheese sandwiches and bologna sandwiches just aren't the same on any other kind of bread. And I still like toasted white bread better than wheat toast.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Kontxesi

              That is not true. They may not be the same as what you eat with the white, but to use "not just the same", is indicating a valued experience that has not a comparable equal in value, if one were to use Russian multi-grain, or fresh baked polish brown.

              Cut thin, these breads aside from white, can do wonders (no pun intended) with grilled cheese.....

              1. re: Kontxesi

                My tastes have changed over that past 10 years and now I prefer whole grain bread for grilled cheese and peanut butter. I eat rye toast or bagels.

                My only use for white bread is a loaf or two at Thanksgiving to dry&cube for stuffing in a bird.

                1. re: Kelli2006

                  white bread represents a process that is done to rice, which takes the nutrition value out of it. Then they enrich it.

                  The Russians, Baltic regions never had this overtake their bread making.

                2. re: Kontxesi

                  I love using rye for grilled cheese sandwiches.

                3. If I could get the bread my mom baked for a brief spell, I'd certainly eat too much of it. That was why she stopped so soon: she'd taken up baking as a money-saving measure, and wound up having to bake almost every day!

                  I've never found a commercial white that tasted like that; Pepperidge Farm was close, but too sweet. My default bread these days is sourdough, usually the kind that gets really crisp in the toaster oven, but there are softer ones that are good for the more nostalgic sandwiches.

                  As for so-called "whole wheat" breads, the only kind I go for now is the flourless sprouted wheatberry loaf that Trader Joe's sells. Delicious, good for you, and it even makes a decent ham sandwich.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Will Owen

                    I love a good sliced sourdough for Panini - OMG - Super-crispy sandwiches result.

                    1. re: Will Owen


                      I look to see if bread has added sugar, and do not buy such.

                      You should try wheat berry and rye berry, in rice like for boiling. They are great for cooking.

                      1. re: jonkyo

                        You cook with bread?

                        BTW, Will Owen knows more about food than I'll know if I live another hundred years. You can learn a lot from him.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          cooks with wheat berry and rye berry.

                      2. re: Will Owen

                        "My default bread these days is sourdough"

                        I've never understood sourdough bread. The few times I've tried it, I would gag. All I get is a strong taste of sour milk.

                      3. To be honest, my assessment of the following: "Baloney sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches, or even PBJ" is that there is no value flavorwise to fried egg sandwich, and PBJ"

                        Baloney on the other hand, even the 1.00 packages, can be so delicious.

                        I recommend, taking the baloney and using a fry pan to heat it up, adding cheese, the processed kind, singly wrapped, or higher quality kind, placed on top. White bread, or other can be used, scooping the cheese baloney up, and placed on the bread, then sandwich it, and toast both sides of the sandwich.

                        Add not peanut butter, but tahini, for balanced taste. Use a raw egg as dip.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jonkyo

                          In our place,i don't go near eggs,the wife don't near bologna,we sorta agree on the pb&j sandwiches,though she likes strawberry most,or grape jam,i only will eat them with the grape jam.......

                        2. While I never crave Wonder Bread types of white bread, some brands with some pretension and usually more cost can be worthy. But my favorite white bread is homemade in my bread machine. It is the only bread I actually bake in the machine (otherwise it is just for kneading). I can share the recipe if anyone is interested.

                          White bread is also indispensable for cucumber sandwiches, as well as the bologna and mortadella type sandwiches mentioned above.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Bada Bing

                            I made white bread BITD, but now I'm looking to get really serious about bread-making this Fall; you know, baguettes, no-knead, using pre-ferments. In the meantime, I just inherited a never-used bread machine that I'll probably just use for dough prep as you're doing.

                            However - in the meantime...I'd be interested in your White Bread recipe. TYVM.

                              1. re: phofiend

                                Back in the day, thank you very much. :)

                              2. re: mcsheridan

                                12 ounces water by weight
                                22 ounces bread flour (not AP flour)
                                2-3 teaspoons kosher salt
                                2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                1-2 tablespoons honey
                                1.5 teaspoons instant yeast (I use SAF)

                                Put water into bread machine well. Put flour on top, ensuring that the flour mounds up so you can dig out a portion to keep the yeast clear of the moisture. Put yeast onto the flour. Apply remaining ingredients anywhere you like in the cooking pan.

                                I use a Zojirushi bread machine on sandwich setting or regular white. (Only regular white setting lets me also adjust the crust darkness level, and in my machine, I set it to dark, because it otherwise comes out utterly pale.)

                                Good luck!

                            1. I was raised on it as the default bread (Arnold or Pepperidge Farm). There wasn't much choice back then: white, rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat. But there is now a large variety of more nutritious, decent-quality supermarket bread. I haven't bought, or eaten, white bread or white buns/rolls in decades. There is nothing for which I do not prefer some other variety.

                              1. White bread + government cheese = the best grilled cheese and cheese toast. My school received government cheese. These were the gooiest, most melty, cheesiest grilled cheese and toast. I can't imagine any other bread.

                                1. I love white bread. And eat it regularly.

                                  All kinds. Love them all.

                                  - Asian Milk White Bread (or Hokkaido Milk Loaf)
                                  - Texas Toast
                                  - Wonder
                                  - Generic storebrand from 99¢ Only stores

                                  It's all good. Very good.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    White bread (Sunbeam preferably) with tomatoes, mayo, salt & pepper.

                                    White bread toasted BLT

                                    White bread grilled cheese

                                    White bread bologna/cheese sandwich.


                                    Wish I could indulge all the time. LOL!

                                    1. re: chloebell

                                      yes, that sunbeam buttermilk white is quite good for a summer tomato sandwich.

                                  2. I grew up on Wonder bread. While I mostly eat hearty breads today I still by Wonder bread to make and Albanian sweet stuffing for Thanksgiving and I will save two slice for myself to make either a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a Fluffernutter! You can't have a Fluffernutter on any other kind of bread.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Jpan99

                                      So true about white bread and PB&J and Fluffernutters.

                                      Using any other kind of bread would be sort of like eating fat-free butter or low-sodium salt.

                                    2. Just watched a health show discussing white bread. There are many white breads now that are made with white wheat flour (Wonder is one) which is just as healthy, according to this Dr., as whole wheat flour. Different process. Google it!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Linda VH

                                        For me it's not really a health or nutrient issue, it's one of texture.

                                        I need my white bread to be soft, squishy and completely denture-friendly!

                                      2. Soft white bread is a must for a bologna sandwich.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: AngelaID

                                          "Soft white bread is a must for a bologna sandwich"

                                          For me, it has to on a crusty toasted Italian bread or perhaps a baguette.

                                        2. Isn't the category "white bread" bigger than just "wonder" or "bimbo" bread? What about all the crusty rolls, sourdough, baguettes, etc...? Lots of white bread all over the place--especially if you think of American, Latin American, French, British, Italian bread traditions.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Wawsanham

                                            Yep I'm making rolls for banh mi. As white as you can get but oh so much more :)

                                          2. White bread was not allowed in our home when I was a child. Mom felt it had no nutritional value, despite the Wonderbread commercials claiming to help grow strong bodies 12 ways.
                                            We always ate bakery rye or pumpernickel or cracked wheat.
                                            Mrs. B and daughter love what she calls smush bread. Supermarket white bread with no body. I don't eat it.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                              I doubt that anyone has ever suffered due to eating too much "smush" bread :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                My Great Aunt [1901-1990] subscribed to the medical theory that white bread formed a ball in your stomach that would neither digest nor dissolve.
                                                I've met other people of her age-- and not all from her cultural background--who lived by the same philosophy.

                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                  Is that kinda along the lines of swallowing watermelon seeds???

                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                        You put those in your ears...

                                                        I thought that was dried beans. In fact, there was a song in the mid-1960s by The Serendipity Singers called, "Beans in My Ears." One of the verses went:
                                                        "You can't hear the teacher with beans in your ears
                                                        Beans in your ears, beans in your ears
                                                        You can't hear the teacher with beans in your ears
                                                        Beeeeeans in your ears."


                                                        It was also banned from the airwaves in some cities because kids were putting … wait for it… beans in their ears!


                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                      As a kid we would use "dough balls" as catfish bait, either wads of white bread soaked in lake water or else Total cereal soaked and balled up. I can see why people might think it wouldn't break down, maybe.

                                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                                        we did the same with dough balls, and with velveeta cheese, believe it or not. trout LOVED the velveeta.

                                                2. Bacon sandwich has to be on white bread, preferably pre sliced., also keep the fat on and fry the bacon. You can serve me lean baked bacon on wholewheat bread and I wont be angry, just a little disappointed.

                                                  1. back in the 1960's I always asked my dad to pick up Bond white bread,thought it tasted best,my grandmother who we visited in the Bronx always made me a grilled cheese sandwich with yellow American cheese on pepperidge farm dafidile bread,with a Canada dry ginger ale soda,she made a tasty grilled cheese....

                                                    1. One of my most favorite snacks (tapa) is pan con tomate- ideally a chunk of baguette (white bread!) cut horizontally, toasted well, rubbed with a garlic clove, tomato innards squashed and rubbed into it, a drizzle of good olive oil and sprinkle of flakey salt.

                                                      I don't have it often but i think it would be soooo wrong to use a different bread for it.

                                                      And there are these wonderful olive buns at maison kayser that i cannot resist- a few of those come home with me about once a month. (Chewy crust, chopped whole and halved kalamatas and green olives inside). It would be weird if those were whole grain....

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                        We were in Barcelona and had pan con tomate almost every day. It was always good and a couple of times it was outstanding. I have a tomato plant with its name all over it :)

                                                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                          Or pa amb tomaquet. I always think of it as a Catalan rather than Spanish dish. And I love it, too. One of my favorite summer treats. It's a good example of how simple can be amazingly delicious.

                                                        2. I grew up on Roman Meal, which is a pretty good sandwich bread although not quite white. Until i was about 8, then Mom started making whole wheat (which I hated then, and which now I love and call Mom and beg her to make it when I am coming to visit). But there is no better sandwich than a pepperidge farm white, lightly toasted, hellman's mayo, bacon and warm-from-the-garden tomato sandwich.

                                                          1. Every weekend , we eat toasted potato onion bread from Balthazar bakery with a ton of European butter. It's basically white bread with potato and onion chunks mixed in. The only time I eat white bread and so worth the calories and carb.

                                                            1. Back to the early/middle seventies - around here in NJ you couldn't find decent bread/any we liked! We were accustomed to sturdy Sour Dough Rye breads and true Pumpernickel etc, good Rolls, being German Immigrants, so I was baking our breads. I actually learned to make decent breads and Rolls in those years. Then our German Butcher ( Swiss Pork Store) started to sell excellent Russian Bread and I quit baking bread on a regular basis.
                                                              Our young Children referred in those early years to Wonder bread as Duck Bread, because we would buy a loaf, visit the local Duck pond and feed it to the Ducks. That stuff had no substance at all.
                                                              Nowadays there is no more shortage of excellent breads! :-)

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: RUK

                                                                "Duck bread" is what my mom always wrote on the shopping list, and it's what we always fed the duckies at the pond.:-)
                                                                Years later, one of my college friends enlightened a group of us, very drunk young ones, that Wonder Bread helped soak up booze resulting in a milder hangover in the morning. It did seem to help.

                                                              2. I moved to whole wheat for everyday use a loooong time ago but I have to say it took a while to get used to not using white bread (Wonder Bread please) for after Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

                                                                1. This thread has me considering getting a toaster for the first time in two decades. Toasted white bread. Butter. Cinnamon sugar. Yum.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: debbiel

                                                                    Oh, if you've got one, use your oven's broiler. Then you can get that cinnamon all burned and bubbly.

                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                      Ooh. And the temps this week will even be cool enough to do that.

                                                                  2. "Everywhere I go all the places that I've been got the white bread.

                                                                    Every smile is a new horizon on a slice of white bread...
                                                                    I've never seen wheat bread

                                                                    There are people around the world - different ovens and different recipes.

                                                                    But there's one true emotion that reminds me we're the same...

                                                                    Lets talk about white bread baby"

                                                                    1. Looking through all the posts, it seems to me that there's an unspoken assumed context here. The context is that "white bread" in this sense refers specifically to industrially produced white bread, or at best bread baked so as to resemble a product of industrial manufacture.

                                                                      To me that does a major disservice to something for which there is no reason to discard from the list of potential bread types, nor to categorise into some sort of lesser class. And as far as concerns that there's less nutritional value, it seems to me that this is rather irrelevant in light of the fact that we're not surviving on an exclusive diet of nothing but bread. It's the entire *diet* that needs to have complete nutritional value, not what component parts make it up. I'm not particularly sure that a good white bread is in any case necessarily especially lower in nutritional diversity, but again that's very wide of the point, I think.

                                                                      For me it's depressing that, possibly as a result of a conception that white bread belongs to some sort of bread underclass, it's virtually impossible to find good white bread any more unless you make it yourself. I feel like a dimension of food is being lost.

                                                                      As it happens I bake bread regularly anyway, so for me it's not really a problem. To make a good, classic English toast loaf I use 500 ml of non-fat milk (I've found that non-fat gives better results than full-fat, although the difference is very marginal), about 800g strong white bread flour (amounts are always approximate; I adjust for conditions and reaction of the dough, a small amount - probably around 5 g - of fresh yeast, and 10 g salt. I dissolve the yeast in a bit of the milk, heated to lukewarm the salt in the remaining milk, left cold, and then mix in half the flour and the proofed yeast. I stir with a fork until it becomes smooth, leave to sit for a few minutes, and then lightly knead in somewhere around 2/3 of the remaining flour, to form a sticky ball. This I leave for another 10 minutes or so, then knead the remaining flour in very strongly until the whole becomes a very smooth, soft ball. I use 3 rises; the first tends to take about 6 hours, the next 3, the last 1, then press into a loaf tin lined with parchment and bake at 190C.

                                                                      This is (to me) a lovely bread, but still, I wish such could also easily be bought as well as made; in my youth there were bakeries everywhere which made good fresh white breads everyday. Sadly, almost all of these are no more, victims on the one side to the supermarkets, on the other side to Gregg's.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: AlexRast

                                                                        Have you tried it without heating the milk and proofing the yeast?

                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                          Well, I only heat just enough of the milk to get the yeast started. Most of the milk is still cold. But if you don't start the yeast at all, then the result is usually that things don't get going at all on rise until the next day, without any improvement in flavour, and in fact I wonder about what just leaving around a lump of dough for that length of time does. I'm guessing it probably promotes the action of ambient yeasts as opposed to the ones you specifically added, which is precisely what I want to NOT do. Using ambient yeast inevitably leads to at least a somewhat sour dough. I realise a lot of people probably think that bread doesn't pass the threshold into sour until it's aggressive, but for me even the slightest hint of sourness is enough to be sub-optimal, relative to what I'm trying to achieve in a white bread. I want a true sweet dough - by this I don't mean sweet in the sense of, e.g. cinnamon buns or other yeasted pastries with actual sugar added, but sweet as in using added yeast and not having any hint of sour flavour whatsoever.

                                                                          As you say, a baguette or Italian loaf or any of a number of classic breads is technically a "white" bread but I did think in this context they mean a white tin loaf.

                                                                        2. re: AlexRast

                                                                          Oh, and excellent point about the definition/perception of white bread. What about an amazing baguette from a bakery who knows what they're doing (conspicuous avoidance of the overused word "artisan" here)?

                                                                          Is this that terrible white bread? Or are we just talking about chemical bread?

                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                            I think the "Baloney sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches, or even PBJ's" referenced in the OP set the tone for Wonder/Rainbo type White Bread

                                                                            1. re: chefj

                                                                              Good point. Should have refreshed my memory on this thread before bleating.

                                                                              Still had some good points. :-(

                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                While I did indeed mean typical factory white bread, the fact is that's almost all I've ever known. I don't see why you or anyone else shouldn't talk about a good home baked loaf or restaurant roll.

                                                                                The Wonder Bread Years were kind of lived in a vacuum for me and probably many others. That was bread. Others' experiences with other white breads are certainly welcome.

                                                                        3. The best and tastiest white bread recipe is Cornell bread hands down!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Michael1013

                                                                            I have the recipe saved but I haven't made it yet. Is it really that good?

                                                                          2. I don't recall buying classic white bread in some 40+ years, but I have occasionally purchased Pepperridge Farm white bread for BLT's (does that count as "white bread"?).

                                                                            Grew up on Bond bread, but in our neighborhood, the bread man (yes, it was typically delivered at one time) would supplement his sales by including freshly baked Italian bread that he'd pick up each morning at a local bakery. Not sure Bond would have approved, but it was a way to keep his business.

                                                                            When eating breakfast out or at home I have normally gone with toasted Italian or an English muffin, but a few times / yr I have gone with standard white, primarily the few times/yr I've stopped at Waffle House. (Waffle House and American white bread seem to go hand-in-hand.) My other indulgence is a toasted New Style hotdog bun for an occasional lobster roll.

                                                                            That said, my wife & I went on a minimal starch diet about six months ago, cutting out essentially all bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and other flour products. By not eating sandwiches (and fries), we've also easily essentially eliminated soft drinks. That said, we still enjoy cold cuts, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc, just without the bread (primarily at home).

                                                                            We both have lost about 15 lbs within that six months. On a side note, we both recently saw our triglycerides drop a good 30% vs. a year ago.

                                                                            Have not bought any bread (or potatoes or rice, etc) in six months. We've also significantly curtailed eating out after realizing how difficult it is to order out with minimal starch. We now eat a lot more fresh fruit in place of the starches.

                                                                            Don't miss it, although I do occasionally (once a month?) enjoy a good hot-oven grinder or a few slices of pizza. No classic white bread for me, thank you.

                                                                            Easiest (and only effective) diet we've ever tried.

                                                                            1. I bought some Pepperidge Farms traditional sliced white bread a week ago having tomato sandwiches in mind. It was fine in the tomato sandwich but when I made some bacon egg salad and had it on a piece of toast it was unpalatabley sweet. I had to scrape off the egg salad and eat it with a fork. My dog turned up her nose at it. I find this sweetness in most commercially produced breads.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Candy

                                                                                "My dog turned up her nose at it."

                                                                                My husband likes to say that flies won't land on margarine.

                                                                                Critters know what food is.

                                                                              2. who else remembers "monk's bread"? had a drawing of a monk in his robe on the plastic sleeve package. i see it is still made, but i never see it in stores. https://shop.monksbread.com

                                                                                i read on another forum that it is like pain de mie: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

                                                                                that monk's bread was perfect for summer tomato sandwiches!

                                                                                1. I wasn't raised on white bread. I've always eaten a BLT on a hamburger bun. I've had sandwiches while out and about on white bread but never cared for 'em. (Friends and parties.)
                                                                                  It's always been wheat bread in my life.
                                                                                  French toast on wheat.
                                                                                  Grilled ham & cheese on wheat.
                                                                                  Grilled cheese on wheat.
                                                                                  I like wheat bread probably because I was raised on it.
                                                                                  I don't like white bread. It sticks to the roof of my mouth. YUK!
                                                                                  There is one exception, San Fransisco Sourdough Bread warm with lotsa butter. Now, that's yummy.

                                                                                  1. My mother was disdainful of Wonderbread and its ilk. She insisted on Pepperidge Farm or a brand that may not be around anymore, Upside Down Bread. I loved Wonderbread (or similar imitators) for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but preferred Pepperidge Farm or Upside Down Bread for meat or tuna salad sandwiches because they held up better after sitting in a lunch box all morning. They toasted better, too.

                                                                                    Bakery bread was a rare treat, there being no bakery nearby and our grocery store not having a bakery.

                                                                                    As a kid, I loved to cook, so my grandmother showed me how to make white bread and I made it myself a half dozen times over the years. It smelled great while cooking, but the crust was incredibly hard and the bread rather dried out and tough.

                                                                                    I did not know about other types of flour. I thought the only kind there was was white flour. I soon gave up making bread because it was so inferior to what we could buy at the store. Also, the white bread that I made dried out completely within a few days.

                                                                                    Ah! If I knew as a ten year old what I know now!

                                                                                    1. I make white bread, light wheat bread (half bread flour / half whole wheat flour) and whole wheat bread. We make one type for a few loaves, get tired of it and switch to another. The same thing constantly would be boring, either white or wheat.