Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's just white bread

After all this time, I realized that I never posted my most basic, most generic, and most foolproof bread recipe. This is the one I make when I need a buns or a loaf of bread and I don't want to mess with the formula and I don't feel like tossing in herbs, flavorings, nuts, or anything else.

This is just plain white bread.

You can toss it into a loaf pan, form it into any bready shape you want, or make buns. About a dozen buns.

This is the formula I keep in the back of my mind when I'm devising new recipes. About this much liquid to that much flour, and about that much salt to this much flour. It uses standard ingredients - bread flour, yeast, white sugar, salt, olive oil. Nothing fancy.

I can make this bread in my sleep, practically.

But although this is my go-to bread for every occasion, I usually don't make it exactly like this. I use honey instead of sugar, or whey instead of water. Or I use brown sugar or honey crystals, or I substitute a little bit of a different flour. Even as I type this, my fingers are twitching with the urge to add just a little bit of instant potato flakes or some chopped rosemary.

But no, this time it's going to be just plain white bread. Nothing fancy.

Just White Bread

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) King Arthur bread flour
1 teaspoon Morton's kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling.

Put the water, yeast, and sugar of your stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Cover and set aside until the mixture is bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Add the bread flour and knead until the mixture is smooth and elastic. Add the salt and olive oil and continue kneading until they are incorporated.

Dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out. Knead the dough briefly by hand, then form it into a ball. Drizzle with olive oil to coat and return it to the bowl. Cover and set aside until it has doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle some cornmeal on a baking sheet.

Flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Knead again briefly to knock the air out, then form in into a ball. Place the dough, seam-side down, on the prepared pan.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap, slash the top of the dough as desired.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

And for the fun of it, here's the bottom of the loaf:

Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool completely on a rack before slicing.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.


Clydesdale Jogger said...

Great tasting bread, but I am having one problem. I've made this twice now, and both times the first rise only took 15 minutes to double (and the second time I even made sure to put it in the coldest part of the kitchen and used water at about 80 degrees). The result was a light, airy crumb which was delicious, but nearly impossible to use for sandwiches.

Now, I did double the recipe including doubling the yeast. Next time I plan on using only a tablespoon instead of 4.5 teaspoons, but other than that do you have any ideas why this would be?

Donna Currie said...

When I double a yeast-based recipe, I tend not to double the yeast - like you said, it usually rises too fast. In theory, you should be able to double everything and have it work out just fine, but in practice, sometimes the yeast gets too peppy unless there's something else in the recipe that's slowing it down. I'd suggest doubling everything except the yeast, particularly if yours is that fast.

Clydesdale Jogger said...

Just returning to the post to say that this bread also makes a killer pepperoni bread!

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