A good loaf of everyday bread doesn’t require fancy equipment, exotic ingredients or a lot of thought. All it asks for is a bit of your time to lead you into the wonderful world of yeasty things - golden on the outside and soft in the middle!
Since my family is refusing to eat one more bite of the store-bought bread and I do have a few packs of yeast lying around at home, I've been baking up this old favorite of ours. Its a very simple, nonetheless a very delicious one. The recipe uses only five basic household ingredients (water doesn’t count) and proves that bread doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating to make. And its ready in 3-4 hours ( in the bread world, that's fast!). So, I thought, why not share it? And up it went on my Instagram Stories.
Who knew the simple, unfussy, rustic but very, very tasty bread would make such a splash with my followers? But splash it did. Like a naughty kid doing a cannonball into a swimming pool!
And here we are… writing a blog especially for all those who asked for a more precise path to the process of making this Easy Everyday Bread!
Who can make this Easy Everyday Bread
This bread is perfect for anyone to try out. For beginners, it's really a simple one with basic ingredients and easy technique for bread making. After a couple of loaves, you will get a hang of kneading the dough, adding the flavorings per your preference and how your oven works.
This recipe is wonderful for the experienced bakers too. It is a lovely blank canvas for experimenting with.
How To Make Easy Everyday Bread?
We start with the basic ingredients - flour, salt, sugar, dried active yeast, olive oil, and water. I have settled for a mix of all-purpose flour and wholewheat flour for the bread. But I have made it with only wholewheat and only all-purpose flour too. All three combinations work. Very well.
For extra flavour, I like to put a bit of coarsely ground black pepper. You can leave that out if you want. Or add any herbs - fresh or dried, chilli flakes, lemon pepper...any spices that you enjoy.
Magic of Yeast
I have always used dried active yeast and I am very happy with the results. If you are more comfortable with fresh yeast, please use that.
The important part here is to check if the yeast is active. Sometimes we have forgotten packs of yeast lying at the back of our kitchen cabinets...do check for expiry dates and even if they are not expired, check if the yeast is active. How?
Add some yeast to just barely warm water with a half a teaspoon of sugar. Stir and let it sit in a draft-free place for 10 minutes. If its bubbly like in the picture below, go ahead and add it to your dry ingredients.
Making The Dough
Now that your yeast is nice and bubbly, make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour in some olive oil and the yeast mixture.
Bring the ingredients together in a scraggy sort of dough. Turn it out on a floured surface and knead until the dough feels smooth and supple. If the dough feels too dry, add some more water, a tablespoon at a time. If the dough feels very wet and sticky, you can add more flour.
Begin by pushing the dough away from you, using the heels of your hands. Then fold over half the dough towards you, press down and again push outwards. Turn it sideways and continue with the kneading. Keep turning and kneading till the dough feels soft, elastic and just a tad sticky. You are lengthening and strengthening the gluten strands in this process. This creates a structure for the gases to get trapped and the dough to rise.
Once the dough is ready. Place it in a well-oiled bowl. Coat the top of the dough with oil too. Cover with cling wrap or a damp tea towel and place in a draft-free place for 1 - 2 hours or until the dough is doubled in size. It's very warm here now, so my dough doubles in an hour.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead for 3-4 minutes again.
Shape it any way you like. We like the baguette shape, so I usually make that. You can use a loaf tin or a round cake tin as well. If using a baking tray, line it with baking paper or Silpat.
This is the time to add some cheese, olives, jalapenos, garlic or sundried tomatoes to the dough, if you plan to use to them.
Baking the Everyday Bread
Place the shaped dough on the tray or baking pan. Cover with a damp tea towel again and let rise for 30-45 minutes or until puffy and doubled. Now is the time to preheat your oven too... to 250C.
Score the dough by making 4-5 slashes with a sharp knife. And place in the preheated oven. Reduce the heat to 225C and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. You know the bread is done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow.
Serving the Easy Everyday Bread
Brush the top with butter or olive oil to keep the crust soft. Let the bread cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour before slicing.
This is a lovely loaf that goes well with soups, salads, use the bread to mop up curries and dals. It makes for wonderful sandwiches and toasts.
Its a great bread to put out for dipping in olive oil and serving with olives and cheese.
And of course, eating thick warm slices with soft butter and jam is what we love doing. I don't know anyone who can resist this!
This recipe is fabulously versatile!
You can add shredded cheese and chopped garlic to the dough. Or maybe some red chili flakes. If you can get your hands on some fresh herbs or even dried ones. Chop some olives, sundried tomatoes and mix it in.
How about some seeds and finely chopped nuts? This bread holds up very well and produces great results every single time.
Note: Please add the nuts, cheese, olives, sundried tomatoes, or jalapenos after the first dough rise. But you can add the spices and herbs at the time of kneading the dough the first time.
I hope this easy everyday bread makes it to your table and you enjoy it as much as we do.
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Easy Everyday Bread
- 1 cup Wholewheat flour
- 1 cup All purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2- 1 tsp Black pepper, coarsely ground Optional
- 1.5 tsp Dried active yeast
- 1 cup Lukewarm water You may need more
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 1 tbsp Olive oil You can use melted butter or any neutral tasting oil
- Extra flour for dusting the surface
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar with the water. Let stand for 10 minutes until foamy.
- In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt, and black pepper.
- Make a well in the center and add olive oil and the bubbly yeast mixture.
- Mix well with a fork or your hand till a rough scraggy dough forms.
- Flour your work surface well, turn out the dough on to it. Use the heels of your hands to push the dough away from you, then fold it over halfway, press it down and push it away again. Turn the dough sideways and repeat this process. Keep turning and kneading until the dough is soft, supple and just a tad sticky. This will take about 10-12 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and leave the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 -2 hours or until it doubles.
- Once its doubled, punch the dough down and knead it again for 3-4 minutes.
- Shape it into a ball or like a baguette and place on a baking paper-lined tray. You can place the dough in round or loaf tin as well.
- Cover the loaf loosely with a kitchen towel and let them rise in a draft-free spot for 30-40 minutes until it doubles in size.
- Preheat your oven to 250C. Make 4-5 slashes with a sharp knife on the loaf. Put the tray in the oven and lower the heat to 220C. Bake the loaves for 30-40 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Transfer to wire racks and let cool for at least an hour before slicing them.