Simple And Easy White Bread Recipe
If you’d like to learn how to bake bread, here’s a wonderful place to start. In this blog post we share our classic white bread recipe, which is so easy to make.
White Bread Recipe
Makes one loaf
- 750g flour, plus extra for kneading
- 15g salt
- 70ml olive oil
- 10g instant yeast or 20g fresh yeast
- 5 ml sugar or 10ml honey or golden syrup
- 500ml tepid water, plus extra if required
For the toppings:
(Depending on the flavour and variation of your choosing)
- Egg wash or flour
- Poppy seeds
- Sesame and sunflower seeds
- Olive oil
- Rosemary sprigs
- Maldon salt
- Red onions
- Rolling pin, if making focaccia
- Pasta machine, if making grissini.
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl then rub in the olive oil. You want each grain of flour to be coated in a layer of olive oil as much as is possible. If you shake the bowl, any pieces of flour and olive oil that need to be incorporated further will find their way to the top. You are done rubbing in the olive oil when it is so incorporated this no longer happens.
To use the instant yeast method, mix the dry yeast into the flour mixture. Add the sugar, honey or golden syrup to 250ml of the 500ml tepid water. Tepid water should feel neither warmer nor colder than your hand. Add the 250ml sugar, honey or golden syrup mixture. Then add enough of the remaining 250ml tepid water to make a sticky dough. You may add extra water if required.
To use the wet yeast method, mix the sugar, honey or syrup into 250ml tepid water. Add the fresh yeast and stir to dissolve. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Mix the sugar and yeast mixture into the flour mixture, and add enough water from the remaining 250ml tepid water to form a sticky dough. You may add extra water if required.
On a floured surface, knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until smooth and no longer sticky. You want to add enough flour to your work surface so that your bread does not completely stick to it and your hands, making it impossible to work with, however not so much that you change the ratio of flour in the recipe or make your dough too dry. You know your dough is too dry when it feels lumpy, too hard to knead and the flour will not incorporate. Should this happen, add a little extra tepid water to your dough.
The best way to knead dough is to start with your ball of dough, push through the centre of it with the bottom of your palm, with your wrist bent upwards. First with one hand, then the next. Then fold over the pieces you have pushed back onto your ball of dough, press them down and repeat, while occasionally turning the dough to knead all sections evenly.
What you are looking for at the end of your kneading process is that your dough is not so sticky that if you poke a hole with your finger it sticks to your finger, but rather that the hole stays in place. You want the dough to feel smooth, evenly mixed and not lumpy. The point of the kneading process is to develop the gluten in the flour to a point that if you pull the dough it does not tear, but rather stretches. To get to this point may take longer than 10 minutes. Kneading should be tiring, keep going!
Once your dough is not too dry, not too sticky and stretches without tearing, place it in a greased bowl. Then cover it with a warm damp cloth or cover the whole bowl in clingfilm and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk. This will take about an hour, however, it can take longer or shorter depending on the warmth of the area. Any dough will take longer to prove in winter and faster in summer. Take the dough out of the bowl, fold it over and knead again to ensure all the air has been pushed out.
To bake off a loaf, place the dough into a greased loaf tin, or shape or plait the dough as desired and place on a greased baking tray depending on the bread variation of your choosing. Cover the dough with a warm damp tea towel and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled again. This should take about 20 minutes. Carefully brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with seeds, if desired. Egg wash creates a crispier shiny loaf. Alternatively, brush with water and sprinkle with flour. This creates a soft matte looking loaf.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (210°C if using a fan assisted setting on your oven) place the bread in the oven and immediately turn down to 200°C (190°C fan). After 15 minutes, turn down again to 180°C (170°C fan). Baking time will depend on the size of the loaf, about 45- 60 minutes.
You can make bread dough the day before you need it and keep it, covered with cling wrap, in the fridge. The dough will rise slowly overnight. Remove from the fridge, fold the air out, shape and prove in a warm place, then bake. As a general rule, you know that bread is done if you can knock on the bottom and hear a hollow sound.
This bread is best served warm with butter. Place the loaf or other variation in a paper bag and warm in a moderately heated oven.
Basic white bread variations
Divide the dough into rolls weighing 30-40g. The best way to shape rolls is to press the piece of dough into your work surface with your hand then roll in circles keeping your pinky finger and thumb on the work surface at all times until you lose the “seam” of the dough, then lift the dough, make into a circle and place on the greased baking tray, do not press the rolls down. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled again. Carefully brush the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds, if desired. Egg wash creates crispy, shiny rolls. Alternatively, brush with water and sprinkle with flour. This creates a soft matte looking roll. Preheat the oven to 210°C (190°C fan), place the rolls in the oven and immediately turn down to 190°C (170°C fan). After 15 minutes turn down again to 170°C (150°C fan). Baking time will depend on the size of the rolls, about 20 to 30 minutes.
You can try cutting an x at the top of each roll with clean kitchen scissors for a beautiful decorative effect or cover the top of your rolls with grated cheddar cheese for cheese rolls.
Roll the dough into a flat oval, roundish in shape and about 1 cm thick, using a rolling pin. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bending your fingers slightly, firmly press them over the surface of the bread to form indentations at regular intervals. Generously brush the surface with olive oil, (you should be very generous as the oil will soak into the bread while baking. Spike with rosemary sprigs and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Prove in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Preheat the oven to 230°C (210°C fan). Place the focaccia in the oven and immediately turn down to 200°C (180°C fan). Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes until golden.
You can create Mediterranean flavoured focaccia by adding chopped olives, feta and red onions.
Divide the dough into 6 balls. Roll each ball through a pasta machine, set to the third thickest setting. Using a sharp knife cut into long strips. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Place on a greased baking sheet, allow to prove for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with Maldon salt and seeds, if desired. Bake until lightly golden.
You can give these breadsticks a zing by adding finely grated parmesan and paprika into the dough.
An important note:
Instant dry yeast is usually easily available easily in South Africa, however with alcohol prohibited, you may struggle to find instant dry yeast. If this is the case go to the bakery counter at any shop bakery and ask them for wet yeast. You will need double the amount of wet yeast in grams to replace instant dry yeast. Wet yeast is half soft, half crumbly and looks like the most boring beige colour you can usually find on the walls of the department of motor vehicles.
Your recipe changes slightly with wet yeast, which is why we included instructions for both. Hypothetically, this could also help certain South Africans producing pineapple beer in their backyards during this, our time of need. As we say in South Africa, “‘n Boer maak a plan” (it’s like concocting plan B, when plan A doesn’t pan out). Should you struggle to find instant yeast, we are providing Plan C. Julle is welkom. Now go buy a Global Bread knife as a thank you.