The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

What is your favorite, yet simple, recipe?

mikeofaustin's picture

What is your favorite, yet simple, recipe?

<Sorry so long>

So, ever since I've started learning how to really bake bread the 'right' way (via BBA, internet, etc), my bread has pretty much gone to pot. I can remember the flavor of the first loaf I baked without the knowledge I have today, and curse myself for not saving the recipe. The flavor was a rich buttery flavor. The kind that you could eat the whole loaf before it cooled. I remember the recipe was very simple.

Does anyone care to jot down their favorite simple recipe? (I love going by percentages in recipes).

FWIW, I tried multiple loaves with just salt, yeast and water. I've tried 2 hour short forments and as much as a two day cold forments, but my simple salt, yeast and water has not given me the 'Wow', that everyone talks about. Not even the 'pain a l'ancienne '. To me, all these are just very bland-flavor breads. I really don't think I'm doing anything wrong. I use a stone that's preheated for an hour at 450. Rise times, again, varied. I can get crumb to do anything I want. yet, the flavor is ho-hum. I yearn for the rich, buttery flavor that I made 'before' I started learning baking.


I'm thinking it's going to be a fat and suger added recipe. Here's what my last experiement was;

1% active dry yeast

2% salt

4% suger

4% shortening

Water (unknown %)

- 2 hour pre-forment, 1 hour proof. Baked at 450% until center was 205. Cooled on wire rack. Flavor slightly better, yet still no 'wow' factor.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Anything tastes better on an empty stomach. Maybe you've spoiled your taste buds a bit and fallen into the habit of trying to "out do" yourself with each bake. Easy to do sometimes. I ran into some nice pretzels in Frankfurt and they are really good...

Fresh thick fluffy pretzels

Fresh thick fluffy pretzels

Mini O

pjkobulnicky's picture

If I am trying to bake simple bread, using a simple process but with with maximum flavor here is what I do and it is almost always foolproof.  I make the NYTimes no-knead bread recipe but I substitute durham flour for half of the total flour. I put sesame seeds in the bottom of the couche so that they will bake into the crust. 

Durham does give you that "buttery" flavor without fat or sugar. The only downside is that this is the recipe that requires you to start it the day before but you knew that. 


Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

Trishinomaha's picture

I made Tom Kat's semolina bread this week-end. My husband and I love the flavor of the durham flour. I think I'll try this with the NK recipe.



ehanner's picture

There are two things I do when I want to go back to basics and bake a loaf of simple delicious bread.
1.) I plan on using a preferment that gets at least 6 hours of bench time. A small amount of instant yeast in about 60% of the total flour. longer is better out to 12 hours.
2.) I add 1 Tablespoon or up to 10% white rye flour in the AP flour.

Standard yeast and salt. Use Gold Medal Harvest King at $2.20 for 5# bag or KA AP if you're feeling flush.

No sugar, oil malt or any other additive. Mix at 65% hydration with good gluten development and ferment for 1 hour. Shape and proof on parchment till double.

Bake on a sheet pan in a just barely preheated oven at 450. Skip the stone. Steam for 10 minutes and another 15. Leave the bread in the oven with the door cracked a bit for another 5 minutes. It should be nicely carmelized and have a crispy but not to hard crust after it cools slightly.