I said I wanted to get back to basics. And what, my new friends, is more basic that a loaf of white bread? Just a classic loaf of bread that your grandmother’s grandmother’s great grandmother baked.
Yield: 2 loaves
Time: 2-3 hours but most of that is letting it rise and baking.
1 packet of instant dry yeast / ¼ oz
1 T sugar / ½ oz
1 T salt / ½ oz
2 cups water / 16 fluid oz
5 ½ – 6 cups flour / 23 – 25 ½ oz
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and add water. Stir until everything is combined and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. It will look very shaggy and weird but it’ll come together, I promise.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough using the heel of your hand to push away from you, then folding the dough on top of itself towards you. After each fold, rotate the dough 90⁰. Do this for about 5 minutes, adding a light light light dusting of flour if the dough sticks to your hands or the counter too much. It should become more elastic and smooth.
Place the sweet baby dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set it somewhere safe and warm. (I usually leave it on top on the stove.) Let it sit for about an hour until it has doubled in size.
Plop it out onto your counter, punch it down and gather it back up into a nice ball. Cut it in half and shape into oval shaped loaves. Put them on a baking sheet and leave them alone for 20 minutes to rise again. As they’re rising, preheat your oven to 435⁰F.
Using the sharpest knife you have (or a pair of scissors) make 3 slashes on top of each loaf. This helps control how the loaf will expand during baking.
Bake for 25 – 35 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the loaf should sound hollow when you tap on it. Let it cool before cutting into it. Eat it warm with butter, make grilled cheese, do whatever your heart wants, it’ll be good. Wrap any leftovers tightly with plastic wrap. It’ll be good on the counter for a few days and in the freezer for a week or two.
Kneading the dough for 5 minutes sounds like a pain and yes, you can do it in a mixer if you have one BUT – give it a try. It’s nice.
(The recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour )