The recipe for Sour Cream Sandwich Loaf in Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet is quite outstanding. With its soft and light crumb and only slightly crunchy crust it makes excellent sandwiches. And if you make toast with it, it will fill the house with a wonderful creamy aroma, as it does when the loaf is first baked.
There is an earlier, slightly different version of this recipe on the Guardian website, but I would encourage you to buy the book as it is packed with tempting recipes, each of which has some original twist.
The main thing that distinguishes the dough for this loaf from that for a “standard” white loaf is the fact that a third of the liquid is made up of sour cream, and this must be what gives it its extraordinary qualities. It was here that I made my first departure from Lepard’s recipe, as I found it was easier to weigh the sour cream than to measure it. I went so far as to calculate what 125ml of sour cream would weigh, and concluded that it was very close to 125g, so that was what I used. I also converted all the other ingredients so they were weighed rather than measured, as I find it is easier to be accurate that way.
I also increased the water by 25ml so I could work the dough rather than knead it. Again, this is just because it’s the way I like to do things. Lepard suggests leaving the dough for 10 minutes then kneading it very briefly three times at 10 minute intervals. I’ve never yet followed him in this, as I prefer to get the kneading out of the way and leave the dough to its own devices for an hour or so while I get on with something else.
When it came to shaping the loaf, I found it was helpful to pat it out to 2cm as directed, but also so it was slightly less wide than the length of the tin.
As Lepard seemed to have done for his picture, I slashed the top of the loaf just before baking. I put the tin on top of a pre-heated baking stone, which I’m sure added to its dramatic oven spring. It so happened that I had just the kind of deep loaf tin with crisp angular corners that Lepard recommended, and the resulting contrast between the smooth sides and the rounded and slashed top was rather pleasing.
Lepard promised that the loaf would rise dramatically, and he meant it! It was just cresting the top of the tin when I put it in the oven, but it ended up almost twice the height of the tin. In fact I had to move it to the lowest shelf so it didn’t touch the roof.
Funnily enough, even before I come across this recipe I had made my own cream loaf, almost by accident. I was making a milk loaf in one of those ridged cylindrical moulds that you’ll either find horribly industrial or quaintly nostalgic (I’m in the latter camp, obviously). I happened not to have enough milk, but had some clotted cream, so I put that in. The result was delicious and fragrant, rather like Dan’s loaf. But of course in my case it came from pure serendipity.