This bread recipe is so very simple mainly because it doesn’t take a bunch of thought, I have it memorized, and I can modify it as needed.
Yield: 1 regular loaf or two small loaves (baguette sized)
Baking Temp: 350-375 degrees I go back and forth between the two. It only seems to make a few minutes difference in my oven. My deciding factor is what else needs to be cooked.
2 cups flour (don’t worry about being precise, just scoop)
2 Tablespoons yeast or 1 package yeast Again this is flexible, just use what you have. If you have less yeast you might have to let it rise longer is all. I don’t make special trips to the store for one item and I’ve found it works just fine with either amount.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water (more if you scooped heavily on the flour and less if your scoops of flour were on the light side)
3 Tablespoons of olive oil I always eyeball this measurement. A good glug added to the warm water.
Mix dry ingredients all together. Add oil and water. Stir together until well incorporated. You should have a ball of dough that will be a little on the sticky side. Cover with a damp cloth (my preferred method is with a flour sack towel) or plastic wrap and let sit for at least 20 minutes. Go do the other things you need to get done. Come back and stir down. At this time you can add a little flour and knead the dough a few minutes until it becomes more elastic. Don’t drive yourself crazy with this but the bread’s texture benefits from a little kneading. I then coat my bowl with olive oil so the dough doesn’t stick and walk away again. I usually have 5 different projects going and this is a good time to do something else. You can leave it sit most of the day if you need to. Mix it up in the morning, cover, and go to work. This time sitting just builds flavor.
Now, stir/punch down with your hands and shape into a loaf. Put in a greased loaf pan or just bake on a greased cookie sheet or pizza stone if you like the round loaves. Pre-heat your oven at this time. Once your oven is pre-heated you should have a good rise again. Your loaf size should have about doubled. If your oven heats quickly give the bread a little extra time to rise before putting it in the oven.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and makes a good hollow thump when you rap on it with your fingers. Remove from pan to cool on cooling rack. Resist the temptation to cut into the loaf until it is mostly cool. Hot loaves don’t cut worth a darn in spite of being so yummy.
Once cooled a bit, cut a slice, add butter and honey and you are now enjoying one of my favorite treats in the whole world.