I seem to be breaking many rules these days. Particularly, when it comes to eating whole wheat bread. “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”
There are many reasons that I’ve stopped eating whole wheat bread and I’ll certainly share them with you in the coming weeks. For now, I’ve been doing all of my bread baking with organic, un-enriched, un-bleached white flour. Although soon, I’d like to make the switch to Jovial’s Einkorn, high extraction flour.
I’ve got to admit, after eating whole wheat flour for so long, I had to get accustomed to the flavors in white bread. I also had to make adjustments to all of my standard recipes, particularly my morning pancakes and sandwich bread. However, since I’ve started feeding my children ridiculously good lunches for kids (follow me on instagram), I’ve found that we no longer eat sandwich bread like we used to.
We’re eating more fruits and vegetables and less bread all together. With that in mind, I started tinkering with a European style bread I had learned from my friend Sadagat.
Sadagat is from Azerbaijan, in Northern Europe. She works wonders in her kitchen and she knows I enjoy learning about her cultures food. Every so often, she randomly stops by to bring me over a flat loaf of bread and we end up chatting about family, food, design, and life. She’s a fantastic graphic designer and illustrator. I’ll have to show you her work once her new website is set up.
It’s kind of funny, every time I’d get together with Sadagat, our conversations would somehow circle back to her bread. Yes, I thought about it that often. Perfectly soft, chewy crumb, simple flavor – it reminded me of a perfect everyday bread that my family would eat in Spain.
One day over a conversation that, yes, included her bread she finally told me, “I’m coming over to make bread with you.” I jokingly told her, “It’s about time!”
Sadagat came over mid-morning with her children. Since it was already past 10am I started to wonder if we would have time to make the bread. Reflecting on the taste, it must certainly take hours to make. I asked her if we had time, and she said, “of course!”
So, while the kids played outside, chasing chickens, Sadagat made my kitchen her own. She started pulling out bowls, digging through shelves, and lining up ingredients until she found everything she needed.
What surprised me came next. In the matter of a few minutes she added flour, salt, yeast, water, kneaded a bit, added some olive oil, and… done. With wide eyes, I asked, “is that it?” She said, “yes, that’s it.”
Wow! I was stunned. I asked her if she needed to measure or weigh her ingredients. She laughed at me and said, “no, you just add a bit of this and a bit of that – that is all.”
For bread that tastes as fantastic as hers, this was it for me. I’d finally found a simple, everyday bread recipe for my family.
European Style, Everyday Bread
There are many factors that go into baking, which is one of the reasons homemade bread can be one of the most difficult recipes to share. The humidity level, temperature, and elevation in which you live can all factor in as to how much water the flour will absorb and in turn how the final crumb (interior) will turn out. Too dense, too chewy, too crumbly, etc…
This is why I absolutely love this bread recipe. It’s very flexible!
There are no rules to this homemade bread. There’s no need to pull out a scale to measure the flour or to gauge an exact temperature to the water being added. As long as you don’t add too much flour in the beginning, your loaf will turn out perfect.
To give you a rundown of exactly how I make this bread, I’ve created a video demonstrating the process for my everyday bread recipe.
And… check out the crumb.
Not too shabby, eh ;D I’m very happy with this delicious and simple everyday bread and I hope you will be to.
A simple, European style, everyday bread recipe.
- 2 1/2 cups flour (you'll add more as you knead)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 1/4 cup warm water
- extra virgin olive oil
- In a large bowl add the flour, salt, and yeast. Mix through.
- Add the water and stir into a shaggy dough.
- Using your hands, in the bowl, knead the dough; adding a tablespoon of flour more at a time to help you continue to knead. About an extra 3 - 4 tablespoons. Knead for 3-4 minutes. The dough should remain light, and sticky.
- Once the dough is holding together well and still feels sticky, tacky, yet firm, add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to the dough and shape into a tight ball. (The extra virgin olive oil will give flavor and prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.)
- Place the dough into a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, then a cloth towel, and allow to rise for one hour.
- Once the dough has doubled, carefully, remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured counter making sure to not compress it. You do not want to release all of its gasses. (View the video for a demonstration)
- With floured hands, sprinkle a bit of flour onto the dough and shape it as demonstrated in the video into a tight ball.
- Place it on top of parchment paper, on a cookie sheet or cutting board, and score the top with a sharp knife or razor blade. With a brush, oil the top and sprinkle additional flour on top to get that nice rustic look.
- Cover with plastic wrap and a towel for an additional 20 minutes.
- While it's resting, preheat your oven to 500F with a pizza stone inside.
- After the 20 minutes transfer the boule with the parchment paper to the pizza stone in the oven. Slide from one surface to the other and bake for 10 minutes at 500F.
- After the 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350F and bake an additional 25 minutes.
- Once done, remove the bread with the parchment paper to a cooling rack.
- Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. If you slice the bread before it's completely cooled, you will end up with a gummy inside texture.
If you enjoy this recipe and try it out, come back and let me know how it turned out!