I love to bake bread! I just love the science of it. There’s nothing like the aroma of fresh bread baking in the house (especially during a cold winter day). I usually do not even use a recipe. A good rule of thumb is to use a formula of one packet of active dry yeast + one and one half cups lukewarm liquid (milk or water) + four cups of flour + one and one half teaspoon of salt. That is literally all you need to make a good loaf of bread. I always use a higher protein bread flour (or you can use an all purpose flour and add about a tablespoon vital wheat gluten that you can find at most grocery stores) I also only use purified water when using water. You can dump all these ingredients into a mixer with a dough hook and mix until the dough comes away from the bowl, put it in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, form or roll loaf, let it double in size again, and bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until it is browned and feels hollow when you tap on it. ( If I’m still not sure, I will insert an instant read thermometer and look for it to be around 195 degrees. There you have it. A basic loaf of bread!
Now you can take that same basic formula and add other ingredients to spice it up a little. Depending on what kind of bread you want, you can also add olive oil or butter or sugar or egg but you would likely need to decrease the liquid but you get the point. (we can do that on a future post) Here is my recipe for a garlic herb cheese bread. I have halved my basic formula because I just wanted to make one small loaf…
- 2 cups bread flour
- 3/4 cup of lukewarm purified water
- 1/2 packet active dry yeast (1 1/4 tsp.)
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary
- Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl with a dough hook attachment.
- Mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes or until dough pulls away from the bowl.
- Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for about an hour or until it doubles in size. (If the room is cold, I put it in the oven with a small pan of hot water)
- After the dough doubles, punch the air out of it and roll it with a rolling pin into a square.
- Roll it into a loaf and seal the seam by pinching it together and place on a sheet pan or loaf pan. (I usually use a baking stone but it is not necessary) Spray with pan spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until it doubles again. (about 30 – 45 minutes)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- When dough is ready, make a few slashes with a sharp knife or a lame.
- Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until well browned. Let it cool before slicing.