I think I may may have posted my bread recipe at some point in the past, but I’ve updated it a little bit, so here’s the update!
I have a kitchen scale now, so later on I’ll add metric mass values so those of you cooking in Europe can give it a whirl without having to guess. It works fine by the fairly-inexact American volumetric method, though!
You will need:
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 4.5 teaspoons highly active dry yeast (I recommend SAF red; also, that’s 1.5 tablespoon, by the way; or if you’re using packets, 2 packets)
- 1.5 cups hottish (not boiling) water (or 1 cup hottish water and .5 cup milk)
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (margarine or veg oil will work, too!)
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, honey, or malt syrup (your choice)*
- 1.5 teaspoons salt *
Ingredients marked * are optional. I like the flavor of bread better with salt (and need tons of salt because my body is crazy), but you can leave it out. The sugar/honey/syrup changes the flavor of the finished bread only a little, but it can help get your yeast going if it’s sluggish. Honey or malt syrup add a little moisture, but not enough to require adjustments (edit: usually).
I think you can also bake bread entirely without fats, but I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure how it would turn out.
To make the bread:
- Combine water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to blend them, then set aside.
- Combine flour, butter/oil, and salt in a large bowl.
- When the yeast mix gets foamy, pour it into the dry mix (if you’re using butter, the hot water will help it melt).
- If you’re using milk, pour it in, too.
- Stir with a stirring spoon to everything is fairly well blended (don’t worry — it doesn’t have to be anything like perfect!).
- If you have time, give the ingredients about 5 or 10 minutes to rest. This lets the flour take up the liquids. It also lets you find some awesome podcasts to listen to while you knead (might I recommend the History Chicks?).
- Squish everything together a little with your hands, dust your work surface with flour, and dump your dough right onto it.
- If you’re like me, set a timer so you don’t find yourself thinking, “OMG, I have been kneading this dough foreeeeeeeevaaaarrrrrr.” 6 to 8 minutes should do the trick.
- Ready … set … knead! Remember, no grouchy TV chefs are here, and even if they are, it’s your kitchen — so knead that dough in whatever way works for you!
- Ball up the dough, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise for 30 minutes (if you’re in a hurry) to 1 hour (if you’re not). Longer than 1 hour is fine, too. If it’s going to sit all day or overnight, though, maybe stick the dough in the fridge so it doesn’t go completely crazy.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat dat oven — I like a darker, crisper crust, so I set it for 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Punch down your puffed-up, self-important doughball friend, then shape your baguettes or batards or loaf or rolls or boules or what have you. I often do one baguette and either four submarine rolls or eight dinner rolls.
- If you have time, let your dough rise again (like the Mary-Ellen Carter!) for 15 – 30 minutes. this step is optional, but gets you a pooftier end product.
- Bake for 15 (for dinner rolls) to 30 minutes on or in whatever kind of pizza stone, cookie sheet, loaf pan, and/or baguette pan you’ve got on hand. You can probably even use muffin tins (though I haven’t tried that).
- Cool (preferably on a rack) for as long as you can stand it.
- The most important part! Enjoy your bread while collecting accolades from your friends and loved ones who will be like, “OMG, this person is amazing!” (Unless they can’t have gluten. I should learn a good gluten-free recipe, because Celiac is no joke.)
That’s it! I’ll try to add pictures, and someday, I swear, I really will do a video post about this.
Edit: Oh, yeah. You can also also combine steps 1 through 4 and just mix everything together right away, as long as you have good yeast. I like to proof mine because it makes me feel like a mad scientist, but it isn’t really entirely necessary.
When I make pizza dough (exact same recipe!), I usually omit the second rise.