I’ve been on a quest to figure out a reliable bread recipe. This process has seemed to work well to achieve loaves that dense and brick-like.
The option that has worked best so far is based on “Technique 2” from this Rustic Italian Bread recipe with a few adjustments.
- 3 cups of all purpose / whole wheat flour. I typically do half and half or 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup wheat depending on the day.
- 2 cups of lukewarm water (~120° to 130°)
- ~1/2 to 1 Tbs of honey
- 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast (or 1 yeast packet if you are using a packet. I avoid the “instant” yeast as it has some strange ingredients added.)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
The basic process starts with heating ~2 to 3 cups (add extra just in case some spills / evaporates) of water to around ~120° to 130°.
Pour 1/4 cup of that warm water into a measuring cup. Add honey and mix, then add yeast and stir a bit more.
Let the yeast / water mix site for 10 to 15 minutes and the yeast should begin to react, bubble and rise. If the yeast does not bubble either it is expired, or the water was too hot or cool. I leave the pan on the burner (but burner is off) so it stays warm.
After 10 to 15 minutes add more warm water until the measuring cup is filled to the 2 Cup mark.
While the yeast is rising, mix together the 3 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large mixing bowl.
Begin adding the yeast / water mixture into the flour around 1/4 cup at a time, pouring, then mixing, pouring a bit more and mixing more. You may not use all the yeast / water mixture, keep pouring until the flour is sticking together in a ball. If it is too gooey add more flour as needed until the consistency is sticking together, elastic-y, but not sticking to your hands too much. This part takes so experimenting.
Then place the dough back into a bowl, and cover, let it site for an hour or two to rise. The amount of time for rising can depend on the temperature of your location. The warmer it is the faster the bread will rise. Make sure to keep this out of reach of any hungry dogs. Once one of my dogs ate the whole doughy loaf. The next few days were not fun… Diarrhea…
Here some people say to work the dough again – this part has always resulting in a solid dense loaf so I skip it. After the dough has risen, I try not to touch it too much or it seems all the air / yeast gasses escape.
Preheat the over to 375°.
Brush / spread oil over the top of the loaf, and sesame seeds if you are using them.
Some recipes say to score / make slices over the top of the bread before baking.
After oven as preheated, place the loaf inside and bake for 30 minutes. The should sound sort of hollow when you tap on it after baking.
Some recipes say to place the loaf on the very bottom shelf of the oven. Some recipes have you bake it on a baking stone. Using a baking stone seems to work well but my loaves have sort of ended up wide and flat. They taste still fine. I’ve also tried baking in an oiled bread pan as well.
Or in a pan – make sure the pan is oiled with coconut oil or olive oil – something so it doesn’t stick.
Remove from the oven and let it sit on a baking rack to cool.
Resources and other recipes that were tried and tested
- Rustic Italian Bread
- How to make light and fluffy bread
- Getting your bread to rise for light airy loaves
- 5 Minute European Bread Recipe
- French bread recipe