Nope, those are not my vital statistics (!) but are my latest simple plan for making bread.
I have been baking and experimenting with bread for many years. I burnt out many a bread machine back in the day and eventually just gave up and started making it by hand. I have come up with a foolproof recipe that always works out well and does not approximate a brick any more!
This is what you do:
Large bowl, big spoon. Cup measure, tablespoon measure. Warm your oven slightly (some people just turn on their oven light. I turn the left hand knob to “bake” but leave the temperature knob at its minimum. When the orange light goes out, I turn it off.) Move oven racks so you have room for bowl. Three large (2 lb) loaf pans. Damp tea towel.
Measure into the bowl:
- 8 cups organic wholewheat flour
- 4 cups organic white (unbleached) flour
- 6 tablespoons organic sugar
- 1 tablespoon Himalayan or seasalt
- 3 tablespoons instant (bread machine) yeast
Stir together, make a well in the centre, and add:
- 3/4 cup organic olive oil
- 6 cups filtered water (warm – I use my kettle to heat to approx 40° C)
Mix until everything is combined. Add a little extra water if necessary – it should be a little sticky, not dry, with no flour left at the bottom of the bowl. Knead briefly, cover bowl with damp tea towel, and place in oven to rise for 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and warm the oven up again while you shape the dough.
Knead dough for a few minutes, flouring your hands and the countertop as necessary. Divide into three equal pieces and knead briefly again. Place in loaf pans (I line mine with baking parchment, or you could oil and flour yours). Place pans in oven, all on the same rack (make sure it’s not left on as you don’t want the oven to be too hot). Don’t cover the dough this time.
Leave to rise for another 35 minutes.
Take pans out and leave them on top of the stove while you preheat the oven to 350°F. When the oven is hot, bake bread for 35 minutes.
As soon as it’s ready, tip loaves onto wire racks to cool. If the bottom is well-browned and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom with your knuckle, it’s ready. Leave to cool because if you cut it too soon it will not be as good (in fact, I could have called this my 35-35-35-35 bread because it needs to be left for about half an hour before slicing). That’s it. Really easy. As you can see, it would be a simple matter to divide my quantities by 3 to make one loaf, but it takes the same effort to make three as it does one, and I don’t feel justified in turning on my oven for one loaf of bread. You can always freeze the extra for later if you want. No photos I’m afraid, as currently my dough is in its first rise.
Edited to add: Photo