My favourite bread recipe

 A 1½-lb loaf made in my bread machine. These days I prefer the smaller loaf (reduced from 2 lbs) 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 1½-lb loaf made in my bread machine. These days I prefer the smaller loaf (reduced from 2 lbs) 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 only one, but I double the salt, as I find that 'more is better' when it comes to flavour depth and salting.

Makes a 1½ -pound loaf.

3 cups / 15 ounces flour -- either all bread flour or a mixture of bread and all-purpose flour (I like 2 cups bread flour to one cup all-purpose, but any combination is fine)

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

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

1½ tablespoons best-quality unsalted butter, pecan oil, avocado oil, or extra virgin olive oil -- TIP: pour the oil out first, then the honey, as the oil slicks the spoon and the honey drips right off

1 tablespoon raw honey

2 teaspoons sea salt 

2¼ teaspoons bread machine yeast

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Alternative ingredients, in addition to the flour, yeast, salt and honey:

1 tablespoon Greek yoghurt

1/2 cup water

1 large egg

1/4 cup milk

I sometimes like to run the knead cycle twice, if there's time: it promotes gluten formation and when the bread rises, the texture and height are ideal. The result of this particular 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!