Fascination “Bread”! Bread is life and the preparation is magic! I always love to see how the dough is rising and how it grows while baking! I love baking bread so much, that I could stay days in experimenting and baking again and again; if possible in the wooden oven. This is a wonder, which occurs every time I make my dough!
How to knead dough ad how to give the shape to the loaf is something that need to learned and some exercise is needed. I strongly recommend to check the internet and look at videos about this topic.
In this post I give you a simply basic recipe, you should try to follow this and then make your variations.
During the past 2 years I started to make bread with sourdough (100 % hydration aka same quantity of flour and water in the culture), but this does not mean that sourdough recipes cannot be converted in recipes for commercial yeast. Keep in mind: you may substitute “1/2 cup sourdough starter” simply with “1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon yeast (instant, dried or fresh)” and it works perfectly! The rising time will be different: wild yeast (sourdough) is usually slower, but this is only a question of planning and experience.
For standardized baking recipes the exactly amount of the ingredients is required and for this reason the weight of the ingredients is an important factor, but if you do not have the possibility to check the weigh or you need simply a quick recipe, this goes very well and I made very good experiences with this.
In my case 1 cup = 220 ml water and 1 cup = 125 – 130 g all-purpose flour (I checked the weight); the weight of the flour depends on the kind of the flour and the adsorption of water is different. This dough should not to be too wet (about 60% hydration), for this, I can work this independently of the kind of flour and I seldom need to add more flour or liquid.
I change the kind of flour to my need and inspiration, I can remember the great whole-wheat flour I used in Norway was excellent, but also the mixed grains flour I bought in Italy was superb!
I you need a smaller amount of dough, the simplest way is to use a smaller cup or a glass and I reduce the amount of the needed yeast.
If I know that the flour I will use for the second rising is “heavy” lot of grains and maybe seed, I prefer to use plain white flour for the first rising.
Variations for the dough:
It’s in the mixture for the second rising where I mostly add other ingredients; these may be savory but also sweet or even sugar if I want to make brioches! Here a few examples: olives, herbs, chopped sun dried tomatoes, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried figs, candied orange zest…
Variation for the filling:
This recipe can be also used for filled breads, e.g. Turkish “pides”; during our holiday in Norway, we filled the bread simply with canned tuna fish mixed with pesto (+salt/pepper).
Variation for the topping:
The easiest way is simply to dust the loaf with flour and make some cuts (aka scoring the bread), but nice results can be get sprinkling some seed , brushing with water, milk or oil for a focaccia after flatting the bread making holes and sprinkling them with water, salt and rosemary.
Some of my recipes based on this water/flour proportions:
- Mixed Grain Sourdough Bread
- Pane Bruco – Caterpillar Bread
- Focaccia ai Pomodorini con Pasta Madre- Sourdough Focaccia with Cherry Tomatoes
- Sourdough Whole Wheat Pita
Basic Bread Recipe
For the basic bread you need:
Starter (equivalent to 1/2 cup sourdough starter):
- 1/3 cup flour
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/2 cup starter (see above)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons oil (if using white flour I love to add some olive oil)
- Additional ingredients to taste
Topping (make you selection or play with you phantasy)
- Check the yeast combining the ingredients for starter and checking after 20 minutes (or according the package) if the yeast is alive.
- Combine all the ingredients for the first rising into a big bowl, cover and let sit until spongy. The time depends of the kind of yeast (if using sourdough starter I combine these the evening before or early in the morning) and the temperature.
- Add the ingredients for the second rising knead shortly and let lit for about 20 minutes. Now knead again until smooth. I perform this step directly in the bowl using a dough spatula and folding over the bread until done. Let rise a few hour until doubled.
- Now it’s time to shape the bread (for the suggestions check at the end of the recipe)
- The last proof depends on the temperature, in winter the oven (switched off, light on) is the best place for this step, but the temperature should not exceed 30°C!
- When the bread is almost doubled it’s time to preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Bake in at 220°C for about 20 minutes or until begins to turn light brown and if you press the crust you feel it is crunchy enough, if not, bake for a few minute again.
Shaping bread suggestions;
- Cut into two portions (don’t deflate), dust well with flour, transfer to the baking tray and twist gently.
- Shape to baguettes and score as in these videos: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/videos/how-to-shape-a-baguette and https://www.kingarthurflour.com/videos/how-to-slash-a-baguette
- Make pain d’epi (shape as baguette and cut): https://www.kingarthurflour.com/videos/how-to-shape-a-baguette and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN5QL_kaowQ
- Make a boule: http://www.finecooking.com/article/how-to-shape-a-boule