I’ve been tinkering with bread baking for a couple of months now and I’ve honed in on the perfect bread loaf recipe. I’m going to show you how to make it, but be warned. If this is the first time you’ve made bread from scratch then just go ahead and expect to mess up a bit. Bread making is one of those things that is really easy to show and teach, but very difficult to explain in print. I’m going to do my best here, but you might want to watch some youtube videos. That will help you get an idea of what “smooth” dough actually looks like and other things like that.
Also, I want to mention that the technical part of this bread recipe can be made in one of two ways. The modern version that’s fast, or the totally from scratch pioneer version that will blow your tongue off. It’s up to you which route you go. I’ll explain the modern variant in this post and the totally(and I mean totally) from scratch version in the next post. This is the version I’ve settled on for awesome sandwich bread, but this recipe is very, very changeable. It’s a great starting recipe to use and adapt to make all different types of yummy rolls, bagels and french breads.
The Modern Version:
- 2.5 Cups of Wheat Flour
- 1 Cup of Bread Flour
- 1 TBSP of Salt
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 8 oz. warm water
- 5 oz. warm whole milk
- 1 oz. of vegetable oil
- 2 tsp Instant Dry Yeast
- 1 TBSP Sugar
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Don’t add the yeast or sugar to the dry ingredients.
- Mix the water, oil and milk together in a large cup and warm it up a bit. Not hot, just warm. A little more than luke warm. You don’t want to kill the yeast.
- Now add the dry yeast and sugar to the warm liquid and stir it around with a fork vigorously until all of the sugar is dissolved.
- Now walk away and let the yeast liquid sit and fester for about 15 minutes. The yeast is going to get really active and start to party. Don’t crash it.
- Come back and dump the liquid/yeast mix into the dry ingredients.
- Get your hands wet with some water and begin to mix. You will get messy, but it’s worth it.
- When everything is mixed thoroughly, flour the countertop and dump the dough out onto the flour.
- Knead the dough for 6 minutes until smooth, adding plenty of flour as needed. Don’t skimp.
- Now stretch and shape the dough into a ball with the seam at the bottom.
- Clean and dry out your mixing bowl and then spray it inside with cooking spray or wipe it with oil.
- Drop your dough ball into the bowl seam side down and shoot it with a light shot of cooking spray also.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a hand towel and let sit for an hour until it at least doubles in size.
- After it doubles, uncover and punch down the dough to get all the air out. Don’t punch it hard, just make sure it’s deflated good.
- Now turn it out on the floured countertop again and knead it very lightly for about a minute. You just want to work it a little to get it back to a good shape.
- Now, crisco the inside of a loaf pan. Use plenty of lard/crisco. You don’t want the loaf sticking to the pan. That’s a disaster.
- Cover and let sit again for about 30 minutes. It will rise quite a bit, but don’t let it get too big where it’s ballooning out over the sides of the pan.
- Lower your oven rack to a little below center and put the pan on the rack.
- Set the oven to 400° F and set the timer to 30 minutes.
- When the timer goes off the bread is done. Let it cool on a wire rack for about an hour.
That sounds like a ton of steps, but it’s really not that hard. Try and make it a few times. You’ll get better each time and it tastes delicious. You’ll never eat sandwiches with store bought bread again. Once you’ve nailed down this recipe, you’re ready to kick it up and go old-school. That involves hand grinding your wheat flour, using home cultured yeast and making a pre-ferment. I’ll show you how to do that next time.