Though we've been talking about bread on Serious Eats for quite awhile, I've never posted my most basic, generic, and foolproof bread recipe. This is the one I make when I need a buns or a loaf of bread and I don't want to mess with the formula and I don't feel like tossing in herbs, flavorings, nuts, or anything else. This is just plain white bread. You can toss it into a loaf pan, form it into any bready shape you want, or make buns (about a dozen).
This is the formula I keep in the back of my mind when I'm devising new recipes. About this much liquid to that much flour, and about that much salt to this much flour. It uses standard ingredients—bread flour, yeast, white sugar, salt, olive oil.
Though this is my go-to bread for every occasion, I usually don't make it exactly like this. I use honey instead of sugar, or whey instead of water. Or I use brown sugar or honey crystals, or I substitute a little bit of a different flour. Even as I type this, my fingers are twitching with the urge to add just a little bit of instant potato flakes or some chopped rosemary.
But no, this time it's just plain white bread. Nothing fancy.
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. You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie or @cookistry.
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 11 1/4 ounces (about 2 cups) bread flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Put the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Cover and set aside until the mixture is bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add the bread flour and knead until the mixture is smooth and elastic. Add the salt and olive oil and continue kneading until they are incorporated.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out. Knead the dough briefly by hand, then form it into a ball. Drizzle with olive oil to coat and return it to the bowl. Cover and set aside until it has doubled in size, about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle some cornmeal on a baking sheet. Flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Knead again briefly to knock the air out, then form in into a ball. Place the dough, seam-side down, on the prepared pan.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap, slash the top of the dough as desired, and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 35 minutes.
Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool completely on a rack before slicing.