There’s nothing quite like the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the kitchen. The warm, comforting scent promises a treat for the senses and a delight for the taste buds. This classic homemade bread recipe embodies simplicity and tradition, yielding a loaf with a crisp crust and a soft, tender crumb. With just a handful of basic ingredients and a little patience, you can create a masterpiece that will rival any bakery offering. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a first-timer, this recipe is sure to become a staple in your kitchen repertoire. So, roll up your sleeves, dust off the flour, and let’s embark on a journey to create the perfect loaf of bread.
How To Make This Recipe
- 500g strong bread flour
- 10g salt
- 7g fast-action yeast
- 320ml warm water
- Combine the Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, add the strong bread flour and sprinkle the salt on one side and the yeast on the other. Be sure to keep the salt and yeast separate initially, as direct contact with salt can inhibit the yeast’s activity.
- Mix the Dough: Gradually pour the warm water into the bowl while using your hands or a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together. Continue until a rough dough forms.
- Knead the Dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic. This process helps to develop the gluten, which gives the bread its structure.
- First Rise: Place the kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap. Leave it to rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- Shape the Loaf: Once the dough has risen, gently punch it down to release any air bubbles. Shape it into a round loaf by folding the edges towards the centre. Place the shaped dough onto a floured surface, seam-side down.
- Second Rise: Cover the shaped dough with a tea towel and let it rise again for about 30-45 minutes. It should increase in size, though it may not double like the first rise.
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 220°C (200°C for fan ovens), or 425°F.
- Score the Dough (Optional): Using a sharp knife or a scoring tool, make a few shallow slashes on the surface of the loaf. This helps the bread expand as it bakes.
- Bake the Bread: Place the loaf in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until it has a golden-brown crust and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Cooling: Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack before slicing. This helps to retain its moisture and texture.
- Enjoy! Serve your freshly baked bread with butter, jam, or your favourite toppings. It’s perfect for sandwiches, toasts, or simply on its own.
Pro Tip: For a crisper crust, you can place a baking dish with water on the bottom rack of the oven while baking. This creates steam, which helps develop a lovely crust.
Tips Of Recipe
- Use Fresh Ingredients: Ensure that your flour and yeast are fresh. Old or expired ingredients can affect the rise and flavour of your bread.
- Measure Accurately: Use a kitchen scale to measure your ingredients accurately. Baking is a precise science, and small variations can make a difference.
- Check Yeast Freshness: If you’re unsure about the freshness of your yeast, you can perform a quick test. Dissolve a small amount of yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar. It should bubble and froth within 5-10 minutes, indicating it’s active.
- Adjust Water Temperature: The water used to activate the yeast should be warm, not hot. It should be around 35-40°C (95-105°F). Too hot water can kill the yeast, while too cold water won’t activate it properly.
- Kneading Technique: Use a rhythmic and consistent motion while kneading. Apply even pressure to help develop the gluten structure. Avoid over-kneading, as it can make the bread tough.
- Rising Time and Temperature: The dough needs a warm environment for the rise. If your kitchen is chilly, consider placing the dough near a warm radiator or in a lightly warmed oven (turned off) with the light on.
- Covering the Dough: Ensure the dough is covered during rising to prevent it from drying out. A clean tea towel or plastic wrap works well.
- Patience is Key: Don’t rush the rising process. Both the first and second rises contribute to the bread’s flavour and texture.
- Experiment with Flours: Feel free to experiment with different types of flour, such as whole wheat or rye, to give your bread a unique flavour and texture.
- Customize with Add-Ins: Get creative by adding seeds, nuts, herbs, or dried fruits to the dough for added flavour and texture.
- Create Steam: For a crusty finish, add a tray of water to the oven while it’s preheating. This creates steam, resulting in a crispy crust.
- Let it Cool: Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Cutting it too early can result in a gummy texture.
- Storage: Once cooled, store bread in a paper bag or a bread box to maintain freshness. Avoid sealing it in a plastic bag, as it can make the crust soggy.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t flawless. With a little experience, you’ll master the art of baking delicious homemade bread. Happy baking!
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. Can I use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour?
- Yes, you can use all-purpose flour if you don’t have bread flour. However, keep in mind that bread flour has a higher protein content, which contributes to a chewier texture. Your bread may be slightly less chewy if you use all-purpose flour.
- 2. Why is my bread not rising?
- There are several possible reasons for this. It could be due to inactive or expired yeast, water that’s too hot or too cold, insufficient kneading, or not allowing the dough to rise for long enough.
- 3. Can I use instant yeast instead of fast-action yeast?
- Yes, you can substitute instant yeast for fast-action yeast. However, you may not need to activate it in water before adding it to the flour mixture. Simply mix it in with the dry ingredients.
- 4. How can I tell if my dough has risen enough?
- The dough should roughly double in size during the first rise. To test if it’s ready, lightly press your finger into the dough. If the indentation remains, it’s ready for the next step.
- 5. Can I add other ingredients like nuts or seeds to the dough?
- Absolutely! Adding nuts, seeds, dried fruits, or herbs can enhance the flavour and texture of your bread. Fold them into the dough during the initial mixing stage.
- 6. What’s the best way to store homemade bread?
- To maintain freshness, store your bread in a paper bag or a bread box at room temperature. Avoid sealing it in a plastic bag, as this can make the crust go soft.
- 7. Can I freeze homemade bread?
- Yes, you can freeze bread. Allow it to cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil before placing it in an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.
- 8. How do I reheat frozen bread?
- Thaw frozen bread at room temperature for a few hours, then warm it in a preheated oven at 180°C (160°C for fan ovens) for about 10-15 minutes.
- 9. Why does my bread have a dense texture?
- This could be due to over-kneading the dough, using too much flour, or not allowing the dough to rise sufficiently. It’s important to follow the recipe’s instructions for kneading and rising times.
- 10. Can I make this recipe without a stand mixer?
- Yes, you can knead the dough by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer. It will take a bit more time and effort, but it can be just as effective.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
- Serving Size: 1 slice (assuming 12 slices per loaf)
- Calories: 150 kcal
- Total Fat: 1g
- Saturated Fat: 0.2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- Sodium: 200mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 30g
- Dietary Fiber: 1g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 5g
Vitamins and Minerals:
- Calcium: 20mg
- Iron: 1.5mg
- Potassium: 50mg
- Vitamin A: 0μg
- Vitamin C: 0mg
Keep in mind that these values are approximate and can vary based on specific brands and types of ingredients used. Additionally, portion sizes and nutritional content may differ if you make any modifications to the recipe. Always consult specific product labels for the most accurate information.
- Classic Toast and Butter:
- Slice the bread, toast it to your liking, and spread with creamy butter or your favourite jam or preserves.
- Use slices of your homemade bread to create delicious sandwiches with your favourite fillings, such as roasted vegetables, cheese, or deli meats.
- Toast slices of bread and top with diced tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt for a classic Italian appetizer.
- Caprese Panini:
- Make a Caprese panini with slices of mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
- Garlic Bread:
- Spread slices with a mixture of butter, minced garlic, and chopped parsley, then toast until golden brown for a tasty side dish.
- French Toast:
- Dip slices of bread in a mixture of beaten eggs, milk, and a touch of cinnamon, then cook in a hot skillet until golden and serve with maple syrup.
- Bread Pudding:
- Turn stale bread into a delectable dessert by making a bread pudding with ingredients like eggs, milk, sugar, and your choice of flavourings.
- Cube the bread, toss with olive oil, salt, and herbs, then bake until crisp for homemade croutons to top salads or soups.
- Cheese and Onion Platter:
- Serve slices with an assortment of cheeses, caramelized onions, and perhaps some grapes or figs for a delightful cheese platter.
- Dipping Bread for Soup:
- Cut the bread into chunks and serve alongside a hearty soup or stew for a satisfying meal.
- Open-Faced Sandwiches:
- Top slices with avocado, poached eggs, and a sprinkle of chilli flakes for a nutritious and flavourful open-faced sandwich.
- Panzanella Salad:
- Tear the bread into chunks and use it as a base for a classic Italian bread salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and a vinaigrette dressing.
Remember, the versatility of homemade bread means it can be enjoyed in countless ways. Get creative and let your taste buds guide you!