This single loaf bread recipe is just about the easiest loaf of bread ever. I adapted it from the King Arthur recipe site (which is a treasure trove of baking know-how). They call it hearth bread. That recipe, however, makes two loaves, which is just too much for one person. So, I reduced the quantities and made one single loaf recipe instead.
A Kitchenaid stand mixer makes the whole process much easier and faster. If you don’t have one, you can do it the old-fashioned way and knead it by hand.
At its simplest, bread is flour, water, yeast, and salt, with maybe a bit of sugar to give the yeast something to munch on. You can get crustier bread by brushing it with water or egg white. Make it softer with milk, or add new flavors (like honey or sesame seeds). However, those basic few ingredients are all you really need. It may seem intimidating if you haven’t done it before, but it’s really not. After a while, you get a “feel” for how the dough should look and feel and can correct any mistakes.
The bread is easy, but the instructions in the original recipe were a bit confusing. They gave several different variations on how to bake the bread (depending on how crusty you like it) and was a bit tricky to navigate through all the different options. So, I have shared the version/combination I found works best for my taste.
Update: King Arthur eventually decided that the original instructions were both too confusing, and were causing many people to end up with burned bread! The new method ditches the pan of water, and leads to a delicious, crusty loaf of bread. I tried it out and the results were much better. If you want the bread to be extra-crusty, let it cool in a turned-off oven (instructions are in the notes section of the recipe).
They also say to make it a long “Italian bread” shape (which makes it a bit crustier), but I left it round because I liked the way it looks.
semolina or cornmeal for the baking pan (about a tablespoon or two)
Put the yeast, sugar, salt, water, and flour into the bowl of your Kitchenaid mixer. Mix for about 30 secnds to one minute on speed 2 using the paddle attachment. When it's done, it should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball of dough.
Swap the paddle for the dough hook and knead for 3--5 minutes on speed 2. The dough should be smooth and elastic, and bounce back when you press down on it.
Remove the dough from the bowl. Grease the same bowl with a bit of canola oil (I use about a capful). Put the dough back in the bowl and turn it over and around until it's coated with the oil.
Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and put it in a warmish spot or in a cool oven (heat to 200 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn it off).
Let the dough rise until it doubles in size (1-2 hours).
Gently push down the dough. Keep it round if you like, or shape into a long oval (like Italian bread).
Put that in a shallow baking pan or baking sheet sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal. This helps keeps it from sticking and adds a bit of extra crustiness.
Let it rest for 45 minutes, covered. When it's risen enough, the dough will no longer bounce back when you press on it.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slash the top of the bread, and spray (a plant sprayer will work fine) or brush (use a pastry brush) it with warm water.
Place in the middle of the oven and bake the bread for 25-35 minutes.
If the dough is too shaggy (meaning it looks a bit furry), add more flour. If it's too hard, add more water. You'll get a better idea of how the dough should look and feel as you bake more loaves.
If you want the bread to be extra-crusty, remove it from the pan, and turn the oven off. Put the bread back in the oven, right on the rack, and let it rest, with the oven door slightly ajar. Let the bread cool as the oven does.
One of the joys of a Kitchenaid is how much easier it is to make bread, cookies, and cakes. This recipe for potato bread comes out moist, soft, and rises beautifully. If you like Martin’s potato bread, you’ll like this too.
I have adapted the recipe from All Recipes. First, I reduced the recipe to make one loaf instead of two. I have no room for two loaves. I also exchanged the shortening for butter.
Measure the flour over the surface you want to use to shape the bread. Any extra flour will pre-coat the counter.
The Kitchenaid makes the whole dough preparation process faster.You don’t have to mix the dough as long as the original recipe.And, there’s no need to keep scraping down the sides. You also don’t have to stand and knead the bread for 10 minutes. Just swap out the paddle for the dough hook and let the machine do all the work.
Check to see if the dough is kneaded enough by poking it with your finger. If it is, it will bounce back when you poke it.
The rising times are approximate since the speed will depend on conditions in your home that particular day. Sometimes it takes a bit longer.
A delicious, moist loaf of potato bread that's great for sandwiches, sopping up gravy, or eating with a hearty winter stew.
1 small potato, diced
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/4 C all purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp sugar
1 T butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
Add the diced potato and the water to a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil and cook until the potato is fork tender and can be mashed easily. This should take about 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool.
Once the potato/water mixture is cool, drain 1/4 C of the liquid into a liquid measuring cup. Mash the potatoes in the rest of the mixture.
This should equal about one cup. If you don’t have enough, add some warm water.
Add the reserved water to the mixing bowl of your Kitchenaid. Sprinkle the yeast over it and add a pinch of sugar.
Now add the mashed potato mixture, 1C of the flour, butter, sugar, and salt.
Beat with the paddle attachment about thirty seconds on low to combine it all together. Stir in remaining flour. Beat on speed 3 for 3-5 minutes.
Turn dough out onto floured board or countertop. The dough should be stiff and seem a bit hard.
Remove the paddle attachment from your mixer and replace it with the dough hook.
Knead the dough on speed 3 for 3-5 minutes. The dough should now be smooth and stretch easily.
Get a large bowl, and grease it with about one teaspoon of neutral oil (like canola). Plop the dough into the bowl and turn it over so it gets coated with the oil.
Cover the bowl with a towel or slide it into a plastic bag in a warm spot. If your place is chilly, heat your oven to 200 degrees for 10 minutes, turn it off, and then put the bowl with the dough in the oven.
Let it rise for about one hour.
Punch down the dough (this is a chance to get out your frustrations!) and turn it out onto your floured countertop.
Cover it again, and let it rise for 10 minutes.
Shape the lump of dough into a loaf by rolling it out with a rolling pin into a rectangle. Then roll up the rectangle (starting at the short side), like you were rolling up a poster. Pinch the ends together.
Grease an 8x4x2 inch loaf pan and place the dough in the pan.
Cover it again and let rise about 1 hour. The dough should have risen about 2 inches over the top of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. If you want a slightly crustier loaf, sprinkle it with water before putting it in the oven. Bake the bread for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, cover it with foil, and bake another 15 minutes.
Remove from the pan with a stiff spatula, get the butter or jam from the fridge and slather it over a fresh slice. Then eat it!
Don't be intimated by the prep time; most of that is waiting for the bread to rise.
Poke the dough again to see if it rose enough. If it did, it will stay indented when you push down on it.
I admit it, I’m hard on my pans. Not this one. I’ve had it for years and it looks brand-spanking-new. The food doesn’t stick, no matter what I make in it: bread, meatloaf, apple bread (full size recipe), you name it. Whatever I do, it cleans up easily. Yay! Because I love cooking, but not cleaning.
I confess I got tired of buying those silly little packets of yeast. They were a dollar each, took longer to proof, and I kept running out. Plus, some of them had cornstarch in them. I wanted yeast, not cornstarch. This is much better. It’s much cheaper per use, you have enough to bake dozens of loaves of bread, and there’s nothing in there except yeast. The instant yeast works faster than the standard variety too. Store it in the freezer so it lasts longer.