This is more my outline of how to make bread, rather than a specific #recipe. But it’s the outline of almost every yeast bread I make.
- 3C flour, with at least one being wheat bread flour
- 1T sugar (or honey, or molasses, or other sugary thing that will feed yeast – artificial sweeteners will not work)
- 1T fat (butter, olive oil, bacon grease, shortening)
- 1T yeast (when I was homebrewing, I would use slurry from the bottom of the fermenter)
- 1tsp salt (you can go as low as ½tsp, but this is the amount that “tastes right” to me)
- Other – an egg, some milk, cheese, ham, etc. they’ll all change the end product, and you’ll need to adjust the liquid to make it right, but you have to do that based on what kinds of flours you use, too.
- 1-2C water – enough to make the dough right but a little wetter generally works better than too dry. The dough should stick to your hands if you handle it without flouring them first.
- Put everything but the water into a stand mixer with a dough hook and add a cup of liquid.
- Start the mixer on its lowest speed, and run it until the dough comes together. Add a little liquid if it looks too dry. Don’t panic if it looks too wet, because the flours absorb water, and you’ll almost certainly need to add a little more.
- Turn the mixer speed up a notch. The dough should mostly pull clear of the sides of the bowl, forming a shiny ball. If none of it is sticking to the sides, add a bit (maybe a tablespoon) more water at a time.
- Once you’ve got a good dough going, turn the mixer up to the third speed. This is where the mixer will start dancing around the counter. You want to go at this speed for maybe five minutes. You might need to add a little more water. I generally do.
- Spray the dough (in the mixing bowl) with nonstick cooking spray and cover with a piece of plastic until it has doubled in size.
- Prepare a pan or sheet with grease or flour to bake the bread on. Even a nonstick pan needs some flour or grease on it.
- Put a little (maybe a tablespoon) of flour on a board or the counter and turn the dough out onto it. Fold the dough over a few times to knock some of the air out of it, then form a loaf. Sprinkle the top with any toppings, slice expansion marks in, and cover loosely with plastic wrap so it can rise again.
- When the dough has doubled in size again, pop it in a hot oven. Generally 350-400 is the right temperature range, but I’ve baked in ovens as hot as 700F. Hotter gets done quicker.
- Bake until the dough hits 190F internally. 20-40 minutes in a 350-400F oven, depending on the dough, loaf size, and shape. As little as 3 minutes in a blazing hot pizza oven if you’re making flatbread.
- Cool on a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes, but 10 is better. Things need time to set and if you cut in too early, the bread can deflate and will look sad. Cut off a slice or six, and enjoy!