One of the great things about making your own bread at home is that you know exactly what's in it. Knowing that there are no preservatives, or any extra additives, in your food is a big draw for many people to start baking. With a few spices or freshly chopped herbs, this base recipe can be transformed into a thousand different types of bread.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups high-protein bread flour
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1. Combine the water and yeast in a medium mixing bowl and let the yeast "bloom" for about 10 minutes. The yeast will fully dissolve, and you'll be able to see small bubbles or a creamy/foamy texture in the water.
2. Add the flour to yeasted water and mix well to combine.
3. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Sprinkle salt across the top of the dough and begin to work it in. With your fingertips, dimple the salt down into the dough, then begin folding the edges of the dough in on itself until it starts to smooth out.
5. Once the dough is smooth and there are no remaining traces of salt, place into a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and place it in a warm part of your house (or a proofing drawer, if you have one). Allow to rest for about 30 minutes, or until it's roughly doubled in size.
6. Punch the dough down and turn it out on to a lightly floured surface. Very lightly flatten the dough into a small rectangle. Fold the sides of the dough into the center, overlapping in thirds. Next, take the bottom third of the dough and fold it up, then bring the top third down to form a snug envelop of dough.
7. Pinch any seams closed and place the dough into a greased bread pan.
8. Let the dough sit and rest in a warm environment for 1 hour, or until the small loaf has doubled in size once again.
9. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
10. Lightly spritz the top of the loaf with water and bake on the center rack for about 1 hour.
11. When finished, gently turn the bread loaf out of the pan. Let it cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.