The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Basic Everday Bread

daidnik's picture

My Basic Everday Bread

I have been baking bread for 5 years or more focussing primarily on basic everyday bread that I can get the family to like and eat so they won't buy bread at places like Trader Joe's which does not taste good to me at all.

Over the years I've had to abandon using whole wheat flour as my daughters say it's too coarse. I now use unbleached high-gluten flour from Pendleton mills with 18.5% protein.

I've had to temper the crust by brushing the risen loaves with a little olive oil just prior to baking or my daughters will want to waste crust, which I can't bear to see.

Other than these tweaks, my bread is pretty straightforward using a straight dough method and start to finish is 3 hours. This is an important aspect as I work during the day & do most of the cooking at home so choreographing in the baking of 4 loaves about twice a week is not always easy, but that's how much bread we need.

I love this site, which I only discovered recently. One thing I learned here was the importance of crumb. Someone had posted a picture of a baked loaf that they were proud of, and another post requested a "crumb shot" on the loaf. I started to think about that and study inwardly what I liked about the best artisan breads. I had always thought only about the crust, but it is the crumb and texture inside that colors the taste experience inside the loaf, which is most of it. I found that I was getting the dough too dry in my making of the bread. This was making the gas bubbles smaller and making it harder to get the loft up in the loaf. My new rule is something like 'resist the temptation to add too much flour; work with the sticky dough by keeping a good kneading rhythm'.

With the stickier dough temper I see bigger gas bubbles, more loft & better elasticity in the interior texture.

I learned this from that suggestion about "crumb".

I just thought I would share about my 'Basic Everyday Bread'.

Here's a crumb shot of one of my loaves.



daidnik's picture

I thought 18.5% protein sounded awfully high.

I re-checked this and found that it is actually 13.5% protein.

dwcoleman's picture

Can you post the formula for the loaf?

I've been trying to find a decent loaf similar to wonderbread for my daughter/wife.

daidnik's picture

With the protien content of the 'Power Flour' it does  make a fairly robust loaf.  It just doesn't have the coarser texture that results from adding Whole Wheat flour.

The crust trends slightly toward chewy when the moisture content equalizes a bit after sitting for a day.

I think the protein content of the flour used in breads like 'Wonder Bread' tends to be rather low. I think of Wonder Bread as being about halfway to angle food cake.

Trishinomaha's picture

I agree with DW - I'd love to see your recipe. That bread looks very good!

subfuscpersona's picture

...and, to echo others, I'd love to see your recipe.

Do you use any whole grain in your loaves?

daidnik's picture

I'm in a house full of girls.  Like the "Princess and the Pea" or "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", they say: 'Oooh, this  bread is too coarse'.

I've even baked with 100% Whole Wheat using added Gluten Flour, which works nice, but if I bake like this, then I'm the only one eating it.

Eventually, I resigned myself to facing that I couldn't change them, so I accomodated them and went with the highest gluten unbleached that I could find reasonably priced and readily available.

I still do variations like minced olives and toasted garlic put in at the second knead stage and stuff like that.  The princesses like this, but it doesn't go well with PB & jelly and that sort of thing, so this 'Basic Everyday' routine is the main staple.

geneivy's picture

This is my first post on a forum so I hope I am doing it right.

I too would love to see your formula for that great looking loaf. Your comment re time involved has me very curious.

daidnik's picture

Okay, I'm not much for measuring while cooking, but here's my approximate recipe.

Batch size: 4 loaves in glass 4x9 inch loaf pans

~ 8.5 Cup Unbleached Hi Gluten Flour; (I use Pendelton Mills "Power Flour")

~ 5 Cup Water into stove top saucepan for yeast proofing
Dissolve 3 heaping Tbsp Light Brown Sugar into water
Heat water to ~100°F; try not to go past 105° F
Whisk in 2 level Tbsp Active Dry Yeast; (I've been using Red Star 1 pounders from Costco)

Proof yeast until an obvious head is developing

Water/Yeast mixture into flour and spatula/spoonula mix.

Some flour can be added as needed during mixing, but I try to be careful about this; only enough so the dough is not sticking to the sides of the bowl very much.

Dump dough onto generously floured kneading surface. Rub out residual dough in bowl with a little added flour.

Kneading is in two sets of 60 strokes each.

After the first 60 strokes, roughly flatten out the dough mass into a circle/rectangle

Sprinkle 2 Tbsp coarse ground or Kosher Salt over dough mass. Wet your messy hands a bit with water and wet the salted surface a bit with your hands and skooch the salt into the dough mass with your wet messy hands; poking holes all over into the dough surface. It feels nice and helps the coarse salt to dissolve into the dough mass.

Sprinkle a little flour on to the salty wet surface to help it stick together as you continue kneading.

Fold dough over and continue kneading with the second 60 strokes.

It is interesting to note how the salt added midway like this changes the dough texture to the a most silky and elastic feel almost immediately. I really don't know what's going on chemically, but this was suggested to me by a local artisan baker years ago and I've been doing it that way ever since for bread dough.

After kneading, put dough ball back into bowl for 1st Rise and cover with plastic wrap.

First Rise takes only about 30 minutes in my 110°F pilot light type oven.

During the 1st rise, prep loaf pans: Butter & Flour bttm & sides. Dump residual flour onto kneading surface for 2nd knead.

Remove dough after 1st Rise for 2nd Knead.

Knead enough to get the biggest part of the gas bubbles out; they should be popping nicely.

Form into symmetric round mound and quarter into 4 equal parts with knife. If the dough is not too dry then you will see the dough looks shiny-wet & sticky at the cut interface with nice good-sized gas bubbles. If it doesn't look wet there and the bubbles are small, then it may indicate that the dough is a bit dry. It'll still bake well, but the crumb is much improved by preserving the moisture.

Knead each quarter individually to form a nice smooth Gluten exterior. I don't bother forming into cylinders anymore, but just fold the dough to the underside to make a sort of snail-shaped blob. This preserves a relatively undisturbed gluten skin on the top.

Put into the prepped pan smooth side up and continue for all four loaves.

2nd Rise: With straight dough method, timing is important in initiating baking. If you wait until the loaf is big like it should look after baking, then you've waited too long. The optimal timing is getting the loaves into the oven at the maximum gas-generation phase of the yeast-fest. So I try to keep an eye more on the rate of change in height; looking for when the dough looks like it is really starting to change in height rapidly. This is definitely before it's zenith. Time of second rise is maybe 30-40 min.

I gently brush the tops with olive oil just prior to baking to temper the crust texture.

Bake ~ 1 hour at 375°F

I usually remove the loaves from the pans at that time and then put them back in the oven to crisp-up the bottoms a bit (5-7 minutes).




enaid's picture

I was delighted to come across your recipe.  I love TFB site but so much seems to be devoted to starters, sourdough and using a stone, etc.  All very interesting and I am contemplating experimenting with a starter but I have been baking 'basic' wholewheat bread for decades and am really interested in improving the crumb of my loaves.  I did buy a stone and have used the stone and steam method but the high temperature is too overpowering for my smaller European oven and the method hasn't done anything to improve my bread. I like the method you use with the salt and I do use a high gluten white flour/wholewheat flour mix.

I will definitely try out your recipe.  Thanks for posting it.



caburlingame's picture

To get your kids to eat the crust, try brushing with whole egg beaten with water and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds (you can buy a big jar pre-toasted for the same price as the regular).  My friends kids said it tasted "like brioche and popcorn."  Ah, yeah. . . they're kids of a serious foodie.

Trishinomaha's picture



Thanks so much for posting your recipe! I have printed out the recipe and can't wait to try it. I'll let you know how it turns out.