Wednesday, May 16, 2012

That one recipe that always works: Basic White Bread

Everyone who cooks a lot has a few recipes that they could make from memory, even though they require a specific formula. For some people. it's morning pancakes. Or biscuits. Or maybe pie crust or cookies.

For me, that recipe is my basic bread formula. It's the one that I know will always work. I can knead it by hand or in the bread machine or with a stand mixer or food processor. I can bake this bread in a loaf pan or free-form. Or I can make buns.

It's not a fancy loaf - it's basic white bread.

Depending on how I make it, how I shape it, and how I let it rise, it can be a different type of bread. But it always works. Always.

I usually use my stand mixter to knead the dough, so that's the instructions I'm giving here. But you can knead it in the bread machine (using the manufacturer's directions for the order to add ingredients) or knead it in the food processor (combine dry ingredients first, with the oil, then add the water while the machine is running). Or knead by hand. It all works.

It's Just White Bread

1 cup lukewarm* water
2 1/4 teaspoons** instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
11 1/4 ounces (2 1/2 cups) bread*** flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, then add the flour. Knead with the dough hook (or you can use the flat paddle, if your prefer) until the dough is smooth. Add the salt and olive oil and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest until it doubles in size - about an hour.

Flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Knead it just enough to knock out the air, then form it as desired. This will make 1 loaf or 12 buns. This time I made a loaf in my loaf pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until it has doubled in size - about 30 minutes.

Uncover the bread (or buns). If you made a loaf, slash it as desired.

Bake at 350 degrees until the dough is nicely browned, about 30 minutes.

Let the loaf (or buns) cool on a rack.

*If you're using a food processor, use cool water.
**If you plan on baking in a bread machine, use 1 teaspoon of yeast.
***All purpose flour is fine. Or you can substitute up to 1 cup of white wheat flour with no other adjustments.

This has been submitted to YeastSpotting.