If you've been around here for a little bit, you know that I'm a huge fan of homemade bread. Irish Bread is what sparked my interest in baking...and carbs. I have a full post here with multiple options for baking a beautiful, authentic loaf of Irish bread that shouldn't only be saved for St. Patrick's Day. You can also find my Lessons in Sourdough post, which is about my journey into Sourdough bread baking. I highly recommend you check out Lion's Bread for all the information that assisted me as I got going with this bread baking technique. Sourdough bread used to intimidate me so I kept pushing it off. It turns out that it's truly simple and only takes a little bit of patience and time, most of which is time where the baker doesn't have to actively do anything.
After playing around with bread baking for years, I decided to experiment in the kitchen to come up with a loaf recipe that I call a "Gateway" bread recipe, meaning it is my hope that this recipe may open up the world of bread baking to more home bakers. I want those interested in bread baking to know that you truly can have a beautiful, homemade loaf of bread on your table, to the extent you want it there, and that it is a simple and accessible process. This recipe is simple enough that you can decide to make all of your family's bread, if that's your preference, or you can save it for special occasions if you choose.
This recipe is also set up so that you can bake the bread via 3 options. The first is to use a Dutch Oven. I find that this method results in the most uniformly risen loaf, but it was important to me that the recipe did not require a Dutch Oven. We're going for as simple and budget friendly as possible here. If you are interested in a Dutch Oven, this product here is the same brand and similar to the one I currently use. I found that it was more budget friendly than some other options on the market.
The second method of baking is to simply place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie tray and bake the loaf without a Dutch Oven. This results in a more rustic looking loaf that doesn't necessarily have a uniform dome shape, but the bread still tastes amazing and it's a solid option for putting a loaf of homemade bread on the table.
The third option is to separate the risen dough into two halves and make two small "sandwich" shaped loaves in regular sized, greased loaf pans.
Let's dive into the ingredients and baking directions!
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
-2 1/4 tsp yeast
-1 TBS sugar
-2 TBS olive oil (optional: the loaf will be very slightly more dry without it; however, still delicious and it's not a show stopper if you don't have oil on hand or want to leave it out)
-3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
You will also need extra flour for kneading/shaping, plastic wrap, clean dish towels and either a Dutch Oven & parchment paper, a cookie tray & parchment paper or 2 standard sized loaf pans prepared with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the warm water, yeast and sugar. Allow the mixture to sit for approximately 5 minutes until you see the yeast has activated and is a little bubbly. If you are using the oil, add this now and stir to combine. Then add the flour and salt. Use a rubber spatula or your hands to combine all of the ingredients. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and allow to sit out in your kitchen to rise for approximately 2 hours, or at least until doubled in size.
Generously cover a cutting board or clean counter top with flour.
For the single, large boule loaf option using either a cookie tray or Dutch Oven:
Dump the dough on to the surface and lightly knead by using flour covered hands to pick dough up from underneath and work it into the center of the loaf (Stay tuned to my Instagram for a video tutorial of this process). Flip the dough over so that the seam side is down, gently shape into round loaf. Slide the loaf onto a piece of parchment paper. Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rest for an hour.
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. If using a Dutch Oven, place it in the heating oven to pre-heat for about 15 minutes before baking. For the Dutch Oven baking method, carefully remove the heated Dutch Oven from the warm oven, use oven mitts to lift the top off and carefully pick up the loaf by the edges of the parchment paper and place the paper and loaf into the Dutch Oven. Cover. Bake covered for 20 minutes and then uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing. This is very important as bread finishes baking when you take it out of the oven.
For the cookie tray method, slide the parchment paper and loaf onto the cookie tray and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool completely before slicing- very important.
For the two, small, sandwich shaped loafs, dump the dough onto your floured surface. Use a large knife or dough scraper to cut into two halves. Lightly knead each half with flour covered hands by taking the dough from the sides and bringing into the middle. Flip the dough over with the seam side down and gently shape into a longer oval shape. Repeat this for the second half of the dough. Place into the greased loaf pan and cover with a clean dish towel to rest for approximately an hour or until the dough rises to about the top of the loaf pan. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool completely before slicing.
I would love to hear from you if you try this recipe! Happy baking!
New England wife, mom & home baker. Faith, food, fitness, baking, cooking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.