Basic French Loaf
If you’re an avid cook, you must try to bake a bread at least once in your lifetime. Trust me, the smell and taste of freshly baked homemade bread is just great. The most basic bread you can start off with is the french loaf. I’m going to share with you the recipe and more importantly, some very handy tips I’ve learn.
3 cups of Bread or All Purpose Flour
1 tsp of Instant Yeast
1 tsp of Salt
3 tbsp of Melted Unsalted Butter (Optional)
1 tbsp of Sugar
Baking a bread doesn’t involve complex ingredients but it does require quite a bit of technique. By the way, you can do without the butter but I find that for such a simple addition, it gives a noticeable difference in taste.
Add Yeast and Sugar to about a cup of warm water. This is to activate the yeast.
Mix Flour and Salt together in a big bowl.
Mix in Yeast solution and melted butter into the Flour mixture. Add in additional warm water as required until you form a dough. If the dough is all sticking to your hands, add more flour. If the dough is too dry and won’t form into a ball, add more warm water.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Kneading will help to release the gluten in the dough and form a more elastic dough. It is quite a important step but it is not as important as the next step.
This is the most crucial step. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for at least 2 hours, no less. This will let the yeast do its work and make the dough swell up. How fast the dough will rise depends on how much yeast you put in. More yeast, quicker rise. Temperature is crucial too, hotter temperature will make the dough rise up quicker.
But you see, quicker is not always better. Good food takes time and bread is no different. More yeast will eat up a lot of the good stuff in the dough and this will affect the taste. So the ideal way is to use as little yeast and make the dough ferment longer to develop a better taste.
After the dough has risen enough, punch it down and put it on a working area. Start kneading the dough a little and you will notice that the texture is a lot different from when you started out. After kneading, shape it up like a torpedo, make it look like well, a french loaf. Score the dough with a knife, place in on a dusted tray, cover it with a cloth and let it rest for another hour. Yes, more time. Remember, good food takes time…..
About 45 minute through the waiting time, start to preheat your oven. I whack it up to about 200celcius. Place a empty oven tray the lowest rack in the oven.
You will notice that the dough has risen a little more and is starting to look more like a loaf. Now it’s time to bake it. Just before you slide your loaf into the oven. Splash in about 1/2 cup of water into the empty oven tray. This will create steam which will help the bread form a better crust. Then slide in your loaf tray around the middle rack in the oven. Turn down the temperature to about 180-190celcius. It should take about 30-45 minutes to bake.
Walla! You’re done. Now do yourself a favor; cut up a slice of the loaf, spread some butter, and eat it slowly. It’s the best experience ever.