Just the bare essentials to get you started. If you haven't baked bread before, this is a simple recipe to start with. Once you've made it a few times, you can start experimenting with adding other ingredients. This is also a very small recipe, but I bake bread in my toaster-oven, so I can't do a huge batch at once. Feel free to double or triple the quantities.
- 12 oz (320 g) flour
- 6 oz (200 ml) water (approx)
- 1 tsp (5ml) sugar
- 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- 1 packet (2 - 1/4 tsp, 7g, 1/4 oz) yeast
- Get about 1/2 cup (4fl oz, 120ml) tepid water in a cup.
- Add sugar and stir well.
- Add yeast.
- Separately, pile the flour on a counter or cutting board. You'll want about 2 feet per side so you don't knock too much flour onto the floor.
- Add the salt to the pile of flour, mixing it in a little so it's not all in one spot.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour and slowly add tepid water, yeast and sugar, mixing in the flour. If you use just one hand, you'll have a clean hand for other things. I tend to pull the flour into the puddle of water, and as it's absorbed, make a new well, and then add a little more water. The hand you're using to mix the dough may get some dough caked to it at this point. Just rub it off back into the dough and put a little dry flour on your hand to keep the dough from sticking again.
- Add enough more tepid water to make a good dough. You want a dough that feels just a little moist. Don't worry if it isn't perfect though. You can always add a little more water or flour to adjust it as you go. You may not use all the water, or you may need a little more, depending on the type of flour you use. They all vary a bit, and the only way to know for sure is to mix it up and see what it takes to make a good dough.
- Knead the dough for at least 5 minutes. I push the dough flat with both hands, then fold it back over, and repeat. What you're doing here is developing the gluten in the dough so your bread won't be crumbly like a cake. You can actually feel the dough change as you work it, which is pretty cool.
- Pop the dough onto a lightly floured baking tray or into a lightly floured bowl, cover loosely with plastic-wrap, and let it prove for 45 minutes to an hour. When it's about doubled in size, it's done proving.
- Knock the dough flat again. Try and get most of the air out. This should take about a minute of kneading.
- Shape the bread into the shape loaf you want as a finished product and pop it into or onto the floured pan you're going to bake it in. It's going to double in size again, so take that into account when putting it into a pan. Cover with plastic-wrap again.
- Let it rise again, up to about double its size. Again, this will be about an hour, unless you're making a pizza crust, which will rise plenty in about ten minutes as long as your kitchen is comfortably warm (70F, 20C) and draft-free.
- Bake it. Note that you want to be careful putting it in the oven. The bread is full
of air from the yeast, and if you bang it around too much, you run the risk of
knocking some of that air out, leaving you with flatter bread than you might
Here are some times and temps I've found work pretty well for me:
Shape of bread temp time loaf 425F, 225C 20-25 minutes buns or rolls 425F, 225C 10-15 minutes pizza crust (topped) 475F, 250C 10-20 minutes focaccia 475F, 250C 15 minutesNote that the cooking time for pizza is highly variable. It depends on how thick you've made the crust, plus how thick you've piled on the toppings. I tend to make thick crust with a ton of toppings, and the finished pizza is almost an inch thick. Something like that can take almost a half-hour to bake. If you make it ultra-thin, it could be done in 7 or 8 minutes.The way to tell if bread is done is to tap the middle of the bottom of it. If you've got it in a pan, you'll need to pop it out briefly. It should make a hollow sound if it's done, and the top of the bread will be a golden brown.
- Place the baked bread on a rack, and let it cool for 15 minutes to an hour. Eat or store in the fridge.
Makes about 3/4 pound of finished bread.
Preparation time: 40 minutes.
Total time: 2 or 3 hours.