This is a recipe for a basic loaf of bread. The dough itself can be used however. I’ve made buns, rolls, and whole bread loafs using this same exact dough every time without a problem. Eat within 3 days as it will probably be going stale around then (as bread without preservatives and other junk should).
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup, agave, or honey
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 3 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (plus more for rolling / dusting)
- Proof the yeast. To do this warm 1/4 cup water to about bath water heat (110 degrees F, 43 degrees C) add active dry yeast and 1 Tsp sugar. Let sit for about 10 minutes, mixture should at least be doubled in size after waiting.
- Combine rest of water, yeast mixture, maple syrup (or other sweetener), salt, and flour in a large mixing bowl and stir. The result will be a sticky, rough dough. Use a spoon to stir until well combined and when it can no longer do the job, knead and turn it in the bowl with your hands.
- Lift the dough out and lightly grease the bowl with nonstick spray or olive oil. Cover and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until dough is elastic. Rule of thumb is 10 minutes of kneading.
- Place seam-side down in a lightly greased loaf pan or baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (218 C)* toward the end of the dough resting time and place a metal pan (NOT glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack. Also have 1 cup of hot water ready.
- When the oven is preheated, slash the bread 2 or 3 times with a knife, making a cut about ½-inch deep.
- Place in oven on middle rack. Then carefully pour hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. Expect it to bubble and steam; then close oven door quickly.
- Bake the bread for 26 to 35 minutes, or until deep golden brown and risen. Tapping the top of the loaf should produce a hollow sound.
- Remove the bread from the oven and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes. Then carefully remove from pan and transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Let it cool completely before slicing for best results (otherwise it can be doughy in the middle).
- Store leftovers in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to a few days. Transfer to freezer for longer term storage.
- Instant yeast is not recommended as you can’t easily tell if the bread will come to life.
- For whole wheat version use 2 cups of whole wheat bread and 1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour.
- Add sunflower seeds and/or rolled oats for extra flavor/grains.
- For buns or rolls divide dough into smaller pieces before second rest. Shape them and then let the dough rest. Recommended lowering oven temperature to 350 F and not using water as those will result in a hard crust and potentially dry interior.