I get tons of comments about my breads, and people asking how to make them. I have one recipe that I developed and it’s super easy! Hardly any work at all, no kneading even. Variations after the base recipe for foccacia, rye, and whole wheat!
3 hours start to finish, but with so little intervention it takes maybe 20 minutes of work. Caution: the day you learn this, you may gain 10kgs.
Proof your yeast:
- 1.5 cups warm water (just warmer than room temp, you don’t want to hurt the yeasties)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp yeast
Put in a warm oven (again, just warm, not hot! If in doubt, leave it out) for 15 minutes. This will “proof” your yeast and let it get all energised, active, and ready to do its work on your bread.
In a mixing bowl, add the following:
- 3 cups white flour
- 1 tsp salt
Add the yeast mixture after it’s proofed for 15 minutes (it should have a nice frothy head on it, like a good inch at least; if not, at least it should have some froth on the top to show you it’s active).
- Add 3 Tbsp oil (rice bran or canola)
Mix it with a wooden spoon. Get it all mixed up. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Use your hands to punch it down and compact it, forming a flat dough ball.
Put it in a warm oven (off). Let it be for one hour.
After an hour it should have risen a ton. Punch it down and abuse it a little. It is no-knead, you could actually just turn it into a baking pan and go from there, but it’s best to show it who’s boss a little bit before you put it in the pan.
Put dough in whatever pan you’re baking it in. If this is going to be a plain white loaf use a tall bread tin, well oiled. Like, more oil than you think you need to just coat it.
Press the dough into the pan so it gets into all the corners.
Then put it back in a warm oven for maybe 45 minutes.
Turn the temperature on- you’re looking at 175°C, that’s 350°F if you’re in the Bahamas, Belize, the Cayman Islands, Palau or the United States.
Bake ’bout 45 minutes, but our ovens are no doubt different.
How to tell if it’s done? Should be the colour of a content Kodiak bear made of milk chocolate sitting in golden warm sunlight. And, the best test is the knock-test. Take out the pan. Knock on the bottom a bunch. Be like, “hey, are you done in there?” And if the knock sounds all hollow and empty, your bread has achieved Śūnyatā and is done.
Remove it immediately from the baking pan, and put on a cooling rack. A wire rack, or something to keep it away from any surface. You don’t want bread sweat to make the bottom all soggy bogs.
You gotta let it chill out man. Just let it sit on that cooling rack, minimum 15 minutes.
Then it’s ready to go!
Congrats on your fluffy white bread.
For Focaccia, use a wide shallow pan. You can use a cast-iron skillet for extra fanciness. Use the exact same method, except:
After the last rise and before you turn the oven on to bake it, poke your finger into the dough right down to the bottom of the pan about ever 2 cms in a grid. Poke poke poke! Then drizzle on a ton of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle on fresh finely-chopped herbs (I use rosemary, oregano, and sage from just outside the kitchen). Crack on some rock salt.
After it comes out of the oven I drizzle on another bunch of extra virgin olive oil for good measure.
For Rye bread, use the exact same method, but instead of 3 cups of white flour, use:
- 1 cup white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup rye flour
When you add the proofed yeast, also add these spices (blended up in a spice grinder fine fine fine!):
- 1/4 cup caraway seed
- 2Tbsp dill seeds
- 2Tbsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp more salt
Also, after the last rise before you bake it, use a sharp knife to slice diagonally across the top a few times to get that bakery-fresh look. You can also roll it in white flour before the final rise to get that high-contrast crust!
For whole wheat, instead of 3 cups of flour use any mix of whole wheat and white. I like to use 2 cups whole wheat and 1 cup white; the more whole wheat you use in the ratio, the denser it will be.
So that’s bread my darlings! Happy baking.
Peace out from your Happy Wangapeka Cook ❤