Basic Bread Recipe
3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 TB salt
6 1/2 cups flour
1. Mix all ingredients (I usually do yeast & water, let sit for 5 minutes, and then add everything else).
|Adding the yeast.|
|Adding some extras.|
|The finished dough.|
2. Shape loaves. Big rolls/buns turn out well, as do log-shaped "French" loaves. You can use a pan (grease it first), but I like the artisan-like look of just baking on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
3. Add toppings and garnishes. Cut some slits and the top of the bread so it can 'vent'. This is best done with a serrated knife.
I like to put an egg wash on my bread before it bakes. An egg wash is just an egg (or a white or a yolk- depending on what color you want) mixed with some water and then spread across the top of the bread with a butter brush. An egg wash helps seasonings and toppings like poppy seeds stick to the top of the bread.
|Ready to bake!|
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown on top. Sometimes I also brush some melted butter on the top, though it's not necessary.
My best find in the bread-baking world in the last year has been this 4-ingredient recipe from the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day". I borrowed the book from the library, but you can get the master recipe (with details and a tutorial!) here.
The authors recommend making a big batch of dough and then refrigerating it until needed. One thing to keep in mind: leave some room in your container for dough expansion. You're supposed to refrigerate the dough and then punch it down later. I refrigerated my dough and came home from work to discover that it had exploded over all my other projects. Nice, huh?
Anyhow, if you're not as cheap as I am, I would highly recommend buying the book as a reference. I tried one of their recipes for brioche when I had the book, and it was excellent.