This is the simplest recipe for bread that you can find, a basic bread that with only flour, water, yeast, and salt, allows you to start making bread at home, and with good results!
We will take advantage of this recipe to explain a couple of simple concepts and from the basic recipe, we will propose a couple of optional alternatives that will help your basic bread develop more flavor and improve its qualities.
The first optional improvement you can make with your basic bread is to add a portion of whole wheat flour, which will help your bread have more flavor, remove some of the white flour and replace it with whole wheat flour, start with 10% to 25% of whole wheat flour.
The second optional improvement is to make a preference the day before, take a quarter of the ingredients (for the proposed amounts would be: 125 gr of flour, 77 gr of water, 2.5 gr of salt, and 2.5 gr of yeast), and knead them a little, let it ferment between one and two hours and keep this dough in the refrigerator in a well-covered container so that it doesn’t dry out, take it out half an
An hour before making bread the next day and incorporate it into the rest of the ingredients.
The third optional improvement we propose is autolysis, which consists of first mixing the flour and the water, without incorporating either salt or yeast (or the preferment if you did). You let it rest for half an hour to an hour and then incorporate the rest of the ingredients. The autolysis serves for the flour to hydrate well and produce sugars so that when the yeast arrives it will give a good feast, it also helps to make the kneading easier.
The process to elaborate your basic bread
Mix all the ingredients, use your hands, it’s good to feel the dough and helps to get the hang of the dough.
Once the ingredients are mixed, proceed to the kneading, pass the dough to the table and avoid the temptation to add more flour, after working the dough will become more manageable and with a little practice, you will feel comfortable with doughs much more hydrated than this one.
There are several alternatives to perform the kneading, this is a dough with relatively low hydration that should be left to knead without many problems simply folding and rolling the dough on the table, you can also knead at intervals, alternating short periods of kneading (15/30 sec.) and rest (10/15 mins), if you want to know more you can look for information about Dan Lepard’s kneading, the important thing is that you work gently and do not tear the dough.
Knead until you have a smooth dough without lumps.
Once you have finished kneading give it a ball shape and let it ferment, for this put it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a cloth cover, this first fermentation should swell the dough almost to double its volume, which will take about an hour in a warm place (twenty-five degrees).
Now that your bread has made the first fermentation, pass it to the work table and give it form, for this be careful not to lose much gas, first gently crush the dough until you get a disc, then make a bundle, taking the corners of the dough to the center as if you were wrapping a gift, once this is done turn the dough so that the folds are underneath and with both hands turn the dough to give it a ball shape.
Place the ball you made, with the folds up in a banneton, or if you have not in a bowl covered with a kitchen cloth (linen or cotton) well dusted with flour so it does not stick. Cover it and let it ferment a second time, which should take about an hour or an hour and a half.
During the second fermentation is the ideal time to preheat the oven, place the baking sheet inside, and set the temperature to the maximum that your oven allows, this is around 250˚. You can also place a tray at the base of the oven to steam the bread when it goes into the oven.
Just before putting the bread in the oven, turn the dough over on a piece of baking paper, and make some cuts on the surface. This will help the bread to expand through these cuts when it goes up in the oven, this is called “greñado”.
With the help of a baker’s shovel, take the bread to the oven and place it on the baking sheet. At this moment you can pour a half glass of water over the tray you put in the oven to generate steam.
During the first 10 or 15 minutes keep the oven temperature high, around 230˚- 250˚, after this first quarter of an hour, remove the tray from the water and reduce the temperature to around 200˚ and continue baking for about 25 or 30 minutes or until the base of the bread sounds hollow.