There’s something just so… something… about home-baked bread. It’s one of those things that has an inexplicable level of comfort associated with it, yet is apparently not regularly found any more. I honestly don’t think I know anyone that actually attempts to bake their family’s supply (though I would be very pleased to be proven wrong in that regard).
Over the last few months I have tried to fill that void in my own home. Knowing my own predisposition picking up habits for 1 or 2 days (aka: failed attempts at habit forming) I decided that the source recipe had to follow some rules:
- The recipe had to be easy to remember.
- The recipe couldn’t call for anything hard to find.
- The recipe had to be flexible.
- The recipe had to be easily divided into multiple loaves if desired.
- Active time had to be at a minimum.
- The recipe had to be easy on the dishwashing (because cleaning up counts as prep time in my world).
My quest was not long in the looking. What I found was a lean rustic bread with only 6 ingredients. It was as basic a recipe as could be found. It was perfect.
The result has been that my family has been enjoying fresh baked bread
every day most days many days for just pennies in comparison to the $3 loaves at our corner store. Perfect for a family of carbaholics. I usually do this first thing in the morning and have bread by lunchtime.
Really, the hardest thing is (inexplicably) finding a decent resource for bread flour. Apparently baking your own daily bread is so lost an art that your can only find mini bags of the stuff any more. If anybody out there has any suggestions as to where (in Toronto) one might find a decent supply of this would-be pantry staple (local/organic/etc bread flour would be a fun find indeed) I would love to hear of it!
The recipe below will give you a really nice all-purpose loaf. It will not rank high on a bread connoisseur’s yum-list, unless said connoisseur will be slathering his/her piece with peanut butter or the like. It crust isn’t very crisp, it is far from ‘artisanal’.
It is, on the other hand, exactly what every 3 year old and his food-conscious mom dreams of: a doughy white bread where you can account for every ingredient it contains, including the love, because you put it there. ‘Nuf said.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups bread flour
2.5 tsp rapid rise yeast
1 tsp salt
2 cups very warm water
2 tbsp sugar or honey
- Mix together flours, yeast and salt.
Mix sugar or honey into water.
Slowly mix water mixture into flour mixture to form a shaggy mass.
Cover and rest for 15 minutes.
- Knead for 10 minutes by method of choice (stand mixer really helps here).
Shape dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl.
Cover with cling film and let rise for an hour or so until doubled.
- Dump the dough out onto floured board and ‘dimple’ a bit to lose some air.
Divide if desired.
Shape each loaf into a ball or batard and place onto parchment lined sheet pan.
Let rise another 1/2 hour or so covered again with cling film.
- Preheat over to 500°F.
Remove cling film and slash the tops of your loaf/loaves a few times.
Once oven comes to temperature, place Loaves in the oven and immediately lower heat to 400°F.
- Bake until internal temp is 200°F, about 20-25 mins.
- Let cool for a couple hours.