For all my waxing rhapsodies of the beauty of The Feast, of the communal magic of sharing a meal when the theme is gratitude, of the inner peace that comes from crafting with good ingredients, there is one truth that I rarely trumpet: The dinner is really just a vehicle to get me to the next day's turkey sandwich.
If I found myself alone on Thursday, I'd still roast a bird for Friday's sandwich. It's that important to me.
Best yet, it's the most basic form of sandwich: roasted turkey, slathered thickly with mayo and salt, slammed between two pieces of white bread. The salt has to crunch with the bite.
And the bread has to be ugly.
Ugly bread is the easiest bread on the planet to make. Anyone can make ugly bread because it doesn't have to be pretty, or fancy, or artisanal, or even uniform. It doesn't call for imported flours or sun-dried anything. There are no magic herbs or complicated water baths at all. You just have to get in there with your hands.
For your very small efforts, you will get one huge, ugly loaf of satisfying white bread with a crisp crust and soft interior that will act as perfect plate to load turkey, mayo, and salt. Don't forget the salt.
8 c. white bread flour (King Arthur's is great), plus a touch more
4 1/2 tsp. (or 2 packages) rapid rise active dry yeast
5 tsp. salt
4 c. water
In the biggest bowl you own, pour in the flour, yeast, and salt. Pour in approximately 3 cups of the water, and mix with your hands until you get a sticky dough; use more water if you need. Mix for a bit more, the dough will become less sticky, adding a bit more flour until the dough is soft and spongy but still a bit sticky.
Flour a big area to work on, and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough with your hands, pushing it flat with your palms, then folding it back toward you. Keep folding and pushing until the dough becomes springy and feels lighter (probably about ten full minutes; it's better than yoga). Put the dough back into the bowl, and lightly drape it with a clean dish cloth. Put it somewhere warm and out of draft's way for about an hour. It should almost double in size during that time.
Return the dough to the work area, and deliver another quick session of folding and pulling. Pull the dough into a ball and place it on a flour-dusted baking sheet. Smooth a bit of flour over the ball, cover it with the dish towel again, and return it to the rising place to rise again. This is a good time to set your oven to 500. After an hour, the dough will have doubled again. Gently, with tenderness, tuck it under a touch so that the ball is nice and proud. Quietly place it in the oven without slamming the door.
Bake it for ten minutes before turning the temp down to 425. After about half an hour, you should check it. When it's done, it will sound like a drum when tapped. Pull it out, and let it rest for about five minutes before slicing.