Simple Loaf of Bread

This bread is soft and fluffy and the perfect in between of not a light yet not a dense bread. It’s great for breakfast, sandwiches, as a side with spaghetti and meatballs, or just with cheese. This recipe makes two big loaves and the total rise time is an hour.

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In the past I feared baking bread because the thought of working with yeast intimidated me. Also the amount of time needed to knead felt much. But after several years of making pizza dough and getting comfortable with that basic yeast bread, I ventured into the carbohydrate addict’s dark side …. a loaf of freshly baked bread.

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After mixing the ingredients and the initial kneading of the dough—which is really all of 10 minutes—let it rest for 20-30 minutes. However, it is not an exacting recipe. If you forget to knead it at all and leave it to rise rise for an hour, it won’t turn around and hate you. The second rise is more important. It is best to let it rise until double (about 30 minutes). The longer it rises, the lighter the bread will be – which sometimes is not a bad thing.

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Homemade White Bread


Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 c warm water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 5 cups flour¹

Directions

In a medium bowl with 2 1/4 cups warm water dissolve 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar and 1 level Tablespoon yeast.

Into a separate large bowl, measure 5 cups of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix.

Once the yeast has activated make a well in the bowl with the flour and pour the yeast-water. Add 2 Tablespoons oil and using a fork, bring the dough together into a shaggy mess. Next, dump the dough onto an surface with no flour.

And now begins the fun part: kneading. In the first minute or so, the dough comes together. Keep going. It now becomes this sticky mess – what?! It sticks to your hand and to the countertop. Relax. Don’t add flour. Just keep kneading. Kneading is much easier if you use the weight of your body rather than just the strength of your arms. After about 5 minutes of kneading, it starts to come together again and is not sticking to the counter. Keep going until the dough isn’t sticking to your hands anymore. Enjoy working the dough and get used to the feel of it. After about 10 minutes the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a plate, wet tea towel, or cling film to prevent it from drying out and getting that hard skin on the surface. Leave the dough to rest and rise for 30 minutes. The dough should double in size (depending on how warm your kitchen is).

A good test to know it is “ready” is to poke your finger in the dough. When you remove your finger, the hole should still be there; it doesn’t spring back completely.

Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface (but it’s not a must—the dough shouldn’t stick to the work surface). Remove the dough from the bowl and onto the surface and divide into two equal parts. It’s so stretchy! Stretch or roll it into a rectangle (or almost rectangle-like shape). Then fold or roll it like a chapo or swiss roll. Repeat with second dough.

Arrange seam side down on a baking tray that’s been lightly oiled. If using a baking tray, leave enough room for both loaves to expand. If using loaf tins, you might need 3 of them.

With a sharp razor blade (yes a wembe) or knife, cut gashes at an angle on the top of each loaf. (See this post on why it helps to cut/score bread). Cover lightly and allow to rise 20-30 minutes.

Brush the surface of the bread with egg wash (one egg beaten lightly with a pinch of salt). If desired, sprinkle with sesame seeds or oats or just plain flour.

Bake for 30 minutes at 180ºC /375°F. Serve warm and enjoy!

¹Flour alternatives:

2 1/2 cups brown bread flour and 2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup rye flour and 4 cups all purpose flour


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