I'm proud to say that with one exception, I haven't purchased bread in about two years. The one exception was a loaf of white sandwich, to make fairy bread with. I was horrified at how far from my homemade bread it looked and tasted, and while remaining light and airy, it went a scary shade of green within the week. That was enough to reconfirm (not that I needed it), why I religiously make my own bread, and don't plan on ever stopping. It's so satisfying to make your own bread, knowing with complete assurance what you are putting into your body. And the smell, well the smell alone is enough to convince anyone to quit the cardboard loaves of chemicals and give it a go for themselves.
The weekends are when I let my creativity take off, and can afford to spend the time making delicious, extravagant breads, with fillings and toppings and all manner of delicious things. However, I am a busy student and Paddy works full time (plus all the extra hours that teachers work), so during the week, we always use the same, go-to recipe, with a few changes every now and then.
This recipe was originally intended to be for ciabatta, which means it's moister than most doughs, and doesn't require a second rise. It still makes a delicious loaf of that if we so desire, but more often than not, the dough goes straight into my perfectly sized and shaped bread tin, and into the oven for toast and snacks and so on.
Perfect Daily Bread
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tblsp olive oil
3 1/4 cups high grade flour (I normally use all white, or half white, half wholemeal)
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
Add all ingredients to bread maker, and set to dough cycle. If using wholemeal flour, more water may be needed. Check on your dough in the early stages to see if it's formed a cohesive ball. If not, add a bit more water until it does. Once cycle has completed, place dough into a greased bread tin, and leave to rise (optional) while oven warms up. If you want to get fancy, you can dust it with flour and make a few slashes in the top. Cook on around 200 degrees celsious until golden and hollow to tap on the bottom and sides. If desired, mist with water during cooking for an extra crispy crust.
Notes: my oven is crazy, and possibly possessed, so I would trial and error the temperature and time until you find what suits your oven best. You can also roll the dough in seeds before you cook it for even more fanciness.
Now yes, I know this is cheating as it is made in a bread maker. But, to be honest, I just wouldn't have time to make my own bread if it had to be done by hand. I make sourdough, and some other weekend loaves by hand, but this is when I have the luxury of time. The great thing about bread makers is I can put the ingredients in in the morning before I leave, and set the timer. The dough is ready when I get home to be baked and I don't have to be up to all hours of the night.
The final product. I challenge anyone to wait more than 2 minutes before slicing in to this and devouring.
Paddy has suggested I add that this bread is the key to our social life. Bring this bread to an engagement once, and you will always be invited back. If you don't bring afore mentioned bread, people will ask you where it is and why you didn't bring it. Trust me, it's a sure thing.
Do you have a favourite go-to bread recipe you would like to share?