Homemade bread is one of the greatest pleasures known to man. However, home bakers don’t need a culinary degree or experience to make a perfect loaf. In fact, most of the ingredients are probably already in your kitchen. The prep work for this simple recipe takes just 20 minutes, with 3 hours of inactive time to let the dough rise. Once you’ve perfected this basic recipe, you can begin to experiment—I like to add roasted garlic and black olives to my loaves.
This recipe makes two loaves. If you don’t want this much, simply half each ingredient in the list. Use the same baking temperature and time.
- 2 tbsp granulated yeast (active dry yeast)
- 3 cups warm water
- 5 ½ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 ½ tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp butter
- Olive oil (for oven)
- Add yeast to your mixing bowl. Pour in the warm water, stir, and let sit for 5 minutes. The water should be warm, around 105 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, use your finger to test—it should be slightly warmer than your body temperature.
- After 5 minutes, add flour, salt, butter, and any pre-proof topping you want. This can include anything from roasted garlic and rosemary to black olives and red pepper flakes. Mix together with a wooden spoon, switching to hands when it becomes too difficult.
- Once fully mixed, cover the dough with plastic wrap (or a tea towel) and set in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for at least three hours, then (optional) place in the refrigerator overnight.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fill a metal baking pan with water and place in the oven as it warms. This will evaporate and steam the bread, providing a nice crust.
- Use butter or olive oil to slick the bottom of a backing tray. Sprinkle additional flour over to prevent the bread from sticking.
- Sprinkle the dough with flour and use your hands to divide it into two even loaves. Shape each into a ball and place on the baking tray several inches apart. Sprinkle generously with flour.
- Allow the dough to rest for an additional 20 minutes. Just before placing it in the oven, score the top of each loaf with an “x” or other decorative mark.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15-30 minutes before slicing.