Serious Eats: Recipes

Bread Baking: The Simplest White Bread Ever

[Photograph: Donna Currie]

You don't need fancy equipment or special ingredients to make a good loaf of bread. This recipe proves it. It's probably the simplest bread I've ever made, in terms of ingredients, equipment, and the amount of work required.

If you've never made a loaf of bread before, this could be the gateway bread to lead you into the wonderful world of yeasty things.

If you've made plenty of breads, this recipe could be the one you keep in the back of your mind for the times you want something that doesn't require a lot of thought and very little of your time.

Tips on Making this Recipe...
by hand-kneading »
in a stand mixer »
with a food processor »

I've seen this type of bread sold as a "Farmhouse Loaf," so if you want to name it when you serve it, that would be an appropriate moniker. This bread is simple, unfussy, and rustic, but it's also very tasty. And it proves that bread doesn't have to be difficult or intimidating.

One key to making a good loaf of bread is developing the gluten which forms the network that holds in the lovely bubbles that allow the bread to rise. Gluten develops as you knead, but it also develops over time, which is why no-knead bread works. This bread straddles those two worlds, with the gluten developing without much labor, but it also allows you to feel the dough and work with it a little bit, rather than emphasizing the hands-off philosophy of the no-knead method.

If you're enjoying the kneading process, you can knead a little longer. It's not going to hurt anything. If you're not that interested in kneading, you can do the minimum required to mix and shape and it will still work just fine.

While many bread recipes specify bread flour, this one asks for all purpose flour, because it's more likely to be in everyone's pantry. If you have bread flour, feel free to use it, if you prefer. If you don't have a loaf pan, this bread would bake nicely as a free-form loaf on a sheet pan as well. See? No fancy equipment required at all.

The Simplest White Bread Ever

About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. She most recently launched the blog Cookistry and has now joined the Serious Eats team with a weekly column about baking.

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