Nothing can beat an impressive loaf of crusty, rustic bread coming out of a home oven. Won’t you agree? I love homemade breads. Bread baking is one of my favorite kitchen activities, if not the most favorite. Remember the story of my bakery owner grandfather? His passion for bread must have passed on to me. I always try to squeeze making bread into my hectic schedule and I bake bread at least twice a week. It is tandoori bread when we crave the traditional, no-knead bread when I am lazy, and as of recently, perfect easy white bread, when I want to feel like an artisan baker.
What makes this white bread perfect and why easy? The perfection is in the beautiful crusty, golden top and light and porous interior. And easy because it is so easy to achieve this! When you know how.
The trick is in the kneading! Most bread recipes will tell you to briefly knead the dough and leave aside to rise after you’ve combined the ingredients together.
This particular recipe goes a slightly different route. The author of the original recipe, Dan Lepard, instructs kneading the dough with oil a few times at 10-minute intervals before leaving the dough to rise. It is amazing how the somewhat sticky dough becomes smooth and elastic as you knead it with oil. And the bread that comes out of the oven is the absolute perfection. Just look at this picture below. Irresistible. No?
I hope you give this recipe a try. You will be so proud of yourself. The process if perfectly simple and the bread is simply perfect. What’s not to love, right? Let’s do it.
The dough is really easy to put together. Here it is before we knead it with oil. It is a bit sticky, but will come together nicely and become smooth as we knead it.
This is the dough after it has been kneaded with olive oil a few times before rising.
Once the dough is nicely puffed up, we flatten it, then roll it into an oval loaf.
A slash down the middle of a risen loaf and it is ready to go in the oven!
Don’t you just love this golden loaf? Dips, sauces, butter, preserves – this bread pairs well with all.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping and dusting
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1¼ cups warm water
- Oil for kneading (any neutral oil will do; I prefer and use olive oil)
- Put the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl, pour in the water and stir everything together into a sticky shaggy mass.
- Scrape the dough from your hands, cover the bowl with a cloth and leave aside for 10 minutes.
- Lightly oil a 12-inch (30-cm) area of the work surface and your hands. Turn the bowl over on the oiled surface and ease the dough out onto it without too much pulling and teasing.
- NOW KNEAD THE DOUGH USING THIS TECHNIQUE: Take the edge of the dough farthest away from you with one hand and fold it toward you, to meet the edge of the dough nearest to you. Then with the heel of the other hand, push down lightly onto and into the dough and very slightly push and stretch the dough away from you by about 2 to 4 inches. Make your movements gentle, don't pound or tear the dough. Give the dough a clockwise quarter-turn, and once again fold the dough toward you, then push it gently away; and repeat this "turn, fold, and stretch" no more than eight to ten times.
- Turn the dough to the bowl, leave it to rest and repeat the kneading twice more at 10-minute intervals.
- Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a cloth, and leave to rise for 45 minutes.
- Wipe the work surface, dust it with flour then transfer the dough to the surface and pat it into an oval.
- Roll it tightly (in a jelly-roll fashion), give each end a pinch to keep it neat.
- Place the dough seam-side down on a floured baking sheet (I use a rimless baking sheet), cover with a cloth and leave until the dough has increased in size by a half, about 45 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 425ºF (215ºC).
- Flour the top of the dough, cut a slash down the middle and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until light golden on top.