If you have followed dozens of ‘best bread recipe ever’ posts only to be disappointed with the result, give this recipe a try. It’s easy and if followed correctly produces light, fluffy loaves every time. It took us a huge amount of experimentation to find a recipe we were actually happy with, but having found the right formula we haven’t bought bread from the store for over 6 months.
Why bake bread when it is so cheap at the supermarket?
Eating bread is something many of us do every day. Buying fresh bread and milk is a driving force that pushes us to make regular visits to the supermarket, using fuel and often impulse buying other products we don’t really need. Our quest for convenience also comes with other costs. The humble loaf of bread from the supermarket is packed full of E numbers to improve flavouring and make it last longer. It also often comes in plastic packaging. We are currently trying to reduce our non-bioderadable waste to zero, so plastic packaging completely rules out the purchase of supermarket bread in my house.
The beauty of making your own bread is that you can make it exactly how you like it. Sweeter or with added salt, wholemeal or with delicious extras such as olives, nuts or sun dried tomatoes. Baking bread at home can also save you money. The cost of making this recipe is about $2.25 and it creates 1.4kg of bread or two 700g loaves at $1.15 each. Supermarket prices vary, but your average E number infused loaf can range between a cheap $2, 680g loaf or a better quality 750g loaf for $5.39 here in Australia. The equivalent cost for a home baked 680 or 750g loaf would be $1.09 or $1.20 respectively. Who doesn’t want the smell of bread baking in their kitchen or the taste of a freshly baked loaf straight out of the oven?
Are there any disadvantages of baking your own bread?
Depending on your proximity to shops, baking your own bread generally takes longer. This standard loaf of bread will take about 2-3 hours of preparation…but obviously you don’t have to watch the bowl while the dough rises and can get on with other things while you make your bread. Given the lack of preservatives homemade bread does not last as long as a shop bought loaf – but if your house is anything like ours, it will be eaten so quickly that will never be put to the test!
650ml of warm water
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
1kg of bread flour
2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of oil
Step 1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a mixing bowl.
Make a well in the flour and pour into it the warm water and oil.
Combine to make a dough.
Cover the bowl with a clean plastic bag or tea towel and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Step 2. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat for 5-10 minutes.
Incorporate the dough stuck to the sides of the bowl as you go until you are left with a round ball.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel or return it to the plastic bag and let the dough rest and rise up until it has doubled in size.
Step 3. Stretch and fold – empty the dough out on to a lightly floured surface
Stretch the dough out
Fold each end over
Turn it 90 degrees and repeat the process. Continue for 10 minutes. By now the dough should be more elastic.
Step 4. Return to a clean bowl and cover with the tea towel or plastic bag and again let the dough rest and rise up until it has doubled in size.
Step 5. Repeat step 3 and 4. If making 2 loaves divide equally into 2 portions (about 800g in each). If you want 2 even looking loaves using the scales makes it easier to achieve this. At this point you can shape the dough as you wish. Sometimes we bake 1 cob loaf on a baking tile or divide into a dozen rolls.
Step 6. To shape the loaves, flatten out into an oblong shape
Fold over the sides longitudinally
Flip over (seam side down)
Then fold the ends underneath on itself
With hands flattened and palms facing up tuck in all four sides underneath the loaf.
Once a nice loaf shape has been formed place in a lightly greased loaf pan. Cover and again leave to proof for thirty minutes or until doubled in size.
Step 7. Turn the oven to 220C and place a tray of boiling water in the bottom of the oven 10 minutes before you are ready to bake the loaf. Alternatively the loaf can be sprayed with water just before being placed in the oven.
Step 8. Using a serrated bread knife slash the tops of the loaves.
Step 9. Transfer to the oven and close the door quickly so as not to lose all the heat and steam. Bake for 40-50 minutes, after 10 minutes the crust should be browning and the oven should be turned down to 200C. With our Rayburn (LINK) cooking temperatures and times tend to be a fluid concept. The crust should be golden brown and the crust sound hollow when tapped. If uncertain core temperature should be about 860C
Step 10. Bread should be left to cool on a rack for half hour, whether that happens or not is another thing! It is best to slice a loaf only when it has fully cooled down…but that certainly does not stop you tearing open a warm loaf!