My favourite bread recipe

A 2-lb loaf made in my bread machine. These days I prefer the smaller loaf (reduced by half a pound) because I find the size more ideal for toast and sandwiches. The French breadboard, a gift from my mother-in-law after a vacation in Vaucluse, is very handy for catching the crumbs when you slice.  

A 2-lb loaf made in my bread machine. These days I prefer the smaller loaf (reduced by half a pound) because I find the size more ideal for toast and sandwiches. The French breadboard, a gift from my mother-in-law after a vacation in Vaucluse, is very handy for catching the crumbs when you slice.

 

I use a bread machine, and it's one of the best purchases I've ever made. I have total control over my bread economy: how it's made, when it's made, and what goes into it, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My favourite, most-of-the-time recipe is based on one for bread machines by Beth Hensperger, but my version differs in several ways. 

Ms Hensperger's recipe calls for canola oil, which I won't touch (I have read descriptions of how it is manufactured and seen a video on YouTube -- either one of which is enough to put anybody off for life). She asks for milk, but I vary that when I have the opportunity (yoghurt on hand). She adds four teaspoons of gluten (in powder form) to the yeast, but I never detected any benefit from doing that, so I leave it out. The yeast is perfectly adequate to raise the bread, all by itself. While she asks for 2 tablespoons of honey, I put in something more like one-and-a-half, and I round the teaspoon of salt slightly, as I find that 'more is better' when it comes to flavour depth and salting.

Makes a 1½ -pound loaf.

3 cups minus one tablespoon flour -- either all bread flour

or a mixture of bread and all-purpose flour

1/2 cup water (preferably spring, mineral, or filtered)

1/2 cup plain lowfat yoghurt, or milk if yoghurt isn't available

2 tablespoons best-quality butter or extra virgin olive oil

1½ tablespoons raw honey

1 slightly heaping teaspoon sea salt

2¼ teaspoons bread machine yeast

The result of this combination is fabulous: an easy-to-slice, delicious loaf with just the right balance between fluffiness and density, which goes with everything but is also a treat served by itself with a scraping of butter!