This is my basic white bread dough. I use it to make crispy round loaves, regular loaves, a variety of flat breads, pizza crust and bread rolls. It all depends on what you do after you have made the dough.
This recipe uses 6 cups/720g of flour. I prefer white bread flour, but you can use cake flour or all-purpose flour. The amount of water you need can vary depending of the moisture content of the flour. I find white bread flour needs more water than cake flour. Unless you are making industrial quantities, one packet of dried yeast will be enough. You can reduce or increase the quantity of flour and water depending on what you need.
I use a glug of olive oil when making dough. My grandmother apparently used to use soft butter whilst kneading, around 500g per batch kneaded into the dough according to my grandfather. Butter was cheap if you had cows and her bread was wonderful.
The thing about baking bread at home is to plan well. The actual time spent on kneading and shaping the dough is short, but you need a lot of time for the dough to rise and rise again. You also have to find ways to work around the limitations of your home oven.
Start with when you want to eat and work back. Add 30 minutes for cooling. Add 25 to 60 minutes for baking, depending on what bread you are making. Allow an 20 minutes to 1 hour for second rising, depending. Allow 1 hour plus for first rising, depending on temperature. Add 40 minutes for kneading and doing the bits in-between. So if you want to eat at 8pm, start at 4pm to 5pm depending. Don’t cut it too fine, as dough can sit for a while, as can bread, but neither can be pushed to rise or bake faster.
6 cups / 720g flour
500ml lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
1 x 10g packet of yeast
1 tsp salt
Glug olive oil – about ¼ cup
Add water and sugar to a 3L bowl
Add yeast and stir
Wait a few minutes until the yeast starts to foam. If it does not, discard and start again.
Add a couple of cups of flour, the salt and oil and mix. You don’t want the salt and yeast to mix directly.
Mix the rest of the flour in and tilt out on your kneading surface.
If it is too wet or dry, add very little flour or water at a time, but note that a wet, sticky dough will probably come together after a while.
Knead until the dough is silky and a recognisable bread texture is visible when stretched – around ten minutes.
Shape into a ball with the rough edges at the bottom
Rub with oil and place in a large bowl
Cover to the top of the bowl with clingwrap or a damp tea towel and leave to rise until about double in volume.
This is your basic dough. You can now use it to make crusty loaves, bread rolls, pizza dough, quasi-focaccia, generic flat breads or soup squares.