Introduction: Perfect Bread - Super Soft White Farmhouse Loaf

Picture of Perfect Bread - Super Soft White Farmhouse Loaf

This is my go to loaf for.....well nearly everything. It really is perfect, light, fluffy and delicious.

I can add fruit, tomatoes, onion, seeds, honey, whatever I fancy, or just keep it a simple white loaf which is equally tasty. It's taken me a long time to get this right, so I thought I'd share it with you so you don't have to go through the same pain :)

So let's get to the nitty-gritty, here's what you'll need:

  1. Patience
  2. 500g Strong white flour (known in the US as bread flour and 1.1lb for my American cousins. You could use 1lb and drop the water to around 250ml)
  3. 4 heaped teaspoons dry milk powder (I use Tesco Value skimmed milk powder)
  4. 1.5 teaspoons salt
  5. 2 teaspoons sugar
  6. 2 teaspoons baking yeast
  7. 300ml luke-warm water

A bread tin is really handy too - I'm using a 2lb one.

You can knead it by hand, or using a mixer with a dough hook - I'm using a kitchenaid classic as my arthritic hands aren't quite as good as they once were for kneading.

Let's begin....

For those who prefer, I've also made a Youtube video which I've added onto the pics above :)

Step 1: Prepare the Yeast

Picture of Prepare the Yeast

Grab a mixing jug and fill with 300ml warm water (luke warm)

Measure out the 2 teaspoons of yeast into a mixing jug and give it a stir.

Pop a very small pinch of sugar in with the mixture and 1 last stir around.

Cover with a clean tea towel or similar. While we're waiting for the yeast mixture, proceed to the next step.

After around 10 minutes, the mixture should have a frothy head on it like a good beer (like pic 2). It's ready to use.

Step 2: Grab a Mixing Bowl and Measure the Ingredients

Picture of Grab a Mixing Bowl and Measure the Ingredients

Grab a mixing bowl, pop it on some scales and add:

500g flour (1.1lbs).

4 heaped tsp milk powder (this is what makes it super soft and light)

1.5 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

With the mixer

Pop the bowl on the stand, attach the dough hook and just give the ingredients a quick 'dry' stir. While the mixer is still running on a low setting, grab your yeast mixture and slowly pour all of it in. This mix I made was a little short of the 300ml I usually use, so I added a couple of tablespoons of water.

IMPORTANT: Before you start adding water, give it a chance to fully mix through first. You are looking for a consistency which is sticky, but doesn't stick too much to your hands. I can usually pull my dough out of the mixer by hand at the end without a scraper. You can add flour too, but I like to try and get it right 1st time.

Mix on the low setting for around 6-7 minutes until it's become elastic and dough like. Whilst it's mixing, lightly grease a 2nd mixing bowl. (Make sure your bowl is big enough for the dough to expand into as it'll double in size.

Take the dough out and place onto a lightly floured surface. I always like to hand knead for the last 30 seconds/minute to ensure the consistency is right. With this load, I didn't use hardly any flour whilst hand kneading. Knead it into a ball and place into the greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea-towel or clingfilm/food wrap and leave somewhere warm for an hour or until doubled in size.

By hand

If you're going hand-solo (see what I did there). Mix the flour, salt, sugar and milk powder in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add the yeast mix. Mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water. Mix again, then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead (around 10-12 mins I find). Once the dough is satin-smooth, place it into the greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea-towel or clingfilm/food wrap and leave somewhere warm for an hour or until doubled in size.

Go sit down for an hour, you've earned it. Then proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Knock Back and the 2nd Rise

Picture of Knock Back and the 2nd Rise

Look at that, your dough is MASSIVE! The first thing we need to do is knock it back. Take off the clingfilm, make a fist with your hand and gently push into the middle of the dough to release the gas that's built up.

Tip the mixture out onto the lightly floured surface and gently knead it again (doesn't need much - around 30 seconds to a minute). Try to knead it into the shape of the loaf you're making. I'm using a greased 2lb loaf tin, so I've kneaded the shape into an oval.

Place the dough into the greased loaf tin. TOP TIP (dust the top with flour to stop the top sticking when rising. Loosely cover ( I used kitchen towel this time) and leave for around 40 mins.

Check the progress of the loaf after 40 minutes. It should be almost there. Switch on and preheat your oven to:175 degrees C (fan oven), 190 non-fan or 375 degrees F.

Come back in 15-20 mins.

Step 4: The Finale

Picture of The Finale

So hopefully, your dough looks something like pic 1.

Now it's time to pop it in the oven. It should take around 30-35 minutes. The top should be a golden brown and quite solid at this point. A sure-fire way to check it's cooked through is once you've taken it out of the loaf tin, flick the middle of the bottom of the loaf. The sound should be hollow.

That's it, you've got an awesome loaf. Give it around 20-30 minutes to cool before cutting. Don't be tempted to dive in when it's hot - be patient.

I hope you enjoyed the instructable, and have fun making it! If you like what I've done here, please feel free to vote for me in the Cooking Basics competition :)


jsmith324 (author)2015-07-04

Fantastic recipe. I've been making bread for about five years and I've never managed to get a white loaf right. Did this today and it was perfect. Didn't last long enough to take a photo but I will make another one and photograph that one. Thank you!!

hawai50 (author)jsmith3242015-07-04

Amazing!!! Thanks so much and I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's true though, you make 1 and it just won't last - it'll be eaten before you know it :)

hawai50 (author)hawai502015-07-06

Oh, p.s. I've entered in the back to basics food competition too, so if you liked it and have a second to vote, I'd really appreciate it :)

acoleman3 (author)hawai502015-07-09

i haven't made it, but i still voted for it just because of the 'ible. it looks like it would make a canny good loaf! i also favorited it.

hawai50 (author)acoleman32015-07-09

Thanks acoleman3, It is - Just polished off a few slices of the one I've just filmed. I've added a video to the instructable to help - honestly, if you like good bread, you've got to try it.

hawai50 (author)acoleman32015-07-09

Thanks so much. Actuallu making another loaf as we speak and filming. I will try and get a vid up too this evening :)

peeeps (author)2016-03-07

Hi, great recipe, would you describe the finished product as a 'one day only loaf'? I mean should I eat it all on the first day. It was as you described but the half loaf left was extremely 'tight' (texture) next day.

nikolain (author)2015-08-15

and here's what you get

hawai50 (author)nikolain2015-08-15

That.....looks.....delicious!!!!! :)

nikolain (author)2015-08-15

Thanks for the great recipe. Today decided to prepare it and was very pleased with the outcome.But it is not in the standard bread.

�L (author)2015-08-13

what would happen if you baked it without punching it down for the second time?

hawai50 (author)�L2015-08-13

Hi, the reason behind why it's done is to refine the gluten and in essence give you a smaller crumb, so you don't get big holes in your bread slices :)

ricewind (author)2015-07-10

It looks you have mastered the technique. It looks really great. Congrats!

I have been baking our own bread for 4 years now and couldn't be happier. The worst part is slicing the loaf by ourselves, it requires practice but this is a minor drawback against been able to eat your own delicious home-made bread.

bitsy113 (author)ricewind2015-07-18

I'm going to try an electric knife, if that helps :-)

hawai50 (author)bitsy1132015-07-18

Cool, let me know how you get on. I'm just making some French bread at the moment. Same core recipe, but with milled french flour and I'll separate out into batons :)

ToolboxGuy (author)ricewind2015-07-10

This is why I purchased a bread saw (or bow saw) many, many years ago. It helps you measure out consistent thickness of each slice, and you can just flip the blade to make it a left-handed saw. In fact, I should improve upon it and turn it into an instructable...!

ricewind (author)ToolboxGuy2015-07-13

I didn't know about the existence of the bread saw! Amazing! :) We have the typical bread knife, but I think it is too thick. I have no problem with it, but you could say whether my wife was cutting a pair of slices just by looking at the poor loaf ;)

hawai50 (author)ricewind2015-07-10

Thanks, although weirdly I don't have the cutting trouble. I do however keep most of my knives sharp like a razor which helps :)

ToolboxGuy (author)2015-07-10

Few Americans I know even own a kitchen scale, plus we failed miserably at converting to the metric system way back in 1976, but we're still willing to try baking bread anyway.

Could you translate the volume of flour into ml or cups? After all, the rest of your ingredients are by volume. ;)

hawai50 (author)ToolboxGuy2015-07-10

Hi, still can't get my head around cups! Its just shy of 4 cups. Probably need to add an extra 5ml yeast/water mixture at best :)

ToolboxGuy (author)hawai502015-07-11

Thanks to your 'ible, I opted to buy a fresh round of everything - bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast. Lo and behold, I find on the side of the flour:

1/4 cup == 30g.

So, 4 1/4 cups would be 510 grams (480 + 30) - just a bit heavy of the mark, only 2% over the target. I may actually skip the 1/4 cup as my dough tends to be a bit dry on the second rise.

For the OCD people who need that 20g measured out, it can be done with a 1/2 cup and a 1/3 cup. First, take one 1/3 cup of flour, and put it into the 1/2 cup. Next, take another 1/3 cup of flour and add it into the 1/2 cup until the 1/2 cup is full. The remainder in the 1/3 cup is your 20 grams.

(Yeah, I know, TMI for the mathematically uninterested.)

In any case, thanks for the follow up reply!

I will be baking in the morning!

hawai50 (author)ToolboxGuy2015-07-12

Awesome!! Yeah I'm like that, so like to work with the roundest figures - I made this recipe simply fit half a small bag of flour, or a 3rd of a larger bag :)

evangalene (author)2015-07-09

Can this bread recipe be made in a bread machine?

Istarian (author)evangalene2015-07-10

For what it's worth, I've seen people let the bread machine do the mixing/kneading/etc and then use their oven to cook the bread.

hawai50 (author)evangalene2015-07-09

I haven't tried it if I'm honest, but can't think of any reason why not :)

bitsy113 (author)2015-07-10

OMG, this looks soooo yummy! My husband used to make bread in our bread machine and I never did like the way the white bread came out I HAVE to try this it looks like the perfect consistency/texture, the ones in the machine had to many holes and was kind of tough. This looks perfect! Thanks for the recipe!

hawai50 (author)bitsy1132015-07-10

Thanks Bitsy, I promise it is. Just follow the recipe as closely as you can and it'll be awesome. I'd love to see some pics when you do :)

BartholomewH (author)2015-07-10

I really hope my wife will manage to achieve the same result. Looks delicious! thank you

ricewind (author)BartholomewH2015-07-10

Hey! No excuses!! Get your hands dirty and try to make it by yourself! :)

In our house I am the bread baking expert. The best part is giving your personal touch to your loafs. I've tried all kinds of seeds, nuts, spices, even cheese or sun-dried tomatoes. Another benefit is the opportunity of scolding my wife anytime she buys some bread at the supermarket ;)

hawai50 (author)ricewind2015-07-10

I couldn't have said it better mysellf......speaking of which, time to tend to the elderflower and strawberry champagne!

jsmith324 (author)2015-07-08

Second one came out just as well as the first. Brilliant instructable!!

ricewind (author)jsmith3242015-07-10

It looks fantastic! Congratulations jsmith324!

hawai50 (author)jsmith3242015-07-08

Oh lovely, that looks amazing & thanks so much for your kind words :) If you've got a couple of seconds, SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT I'd really appreciate a vote in the contest too. Now I've got to shoot off and check the Elderflower and gooseberry champagne (it's a 1st try scenario) :)

amberharding82 (author)2015-07-10

If a recipe takes more time and effort to be done, then it's bound to be delicious! Love it!

hawai50 (author)amberharding822015-07-10

Thanks Amber :)

trplback (author)2015-07-09

I always wondered what I could do to make bread a little more flexable....I like to bend in half and put pretend vegitarian sausage and onions on it....I am going to try this TODAY. Thanks

hawai50 (author)trplback2015-07-09

Amazing, please share you pics of the finished loaf. FYI if you want you can use exactly the same core recipe, but after the 1st rise and knock back, knead the dough into a round shape and cut into 6 - 8 equal parts. Shape them to finish them in a round bun shape or oval saugage bap shape. Grease a large oven tray, and lay them out, leave space to double in size over the next 40-50 mins. The rest is the same as above. I'd recommend using a dough cutter, or extremely sharp knife to cut the dough.

marylou.s.bolin (author)2015-07-09

Thank You very much for the recipe I'm going to make this bread.

hawai50 (author)marylou.s.bolin2015-07-09

Awesome, if you could share any bread pics, that would be great

Fellowship (author)2015-07-09

I can't wait to try this; I've had such poor luck making bread! I voted too ?!

hawai50 (author)Fellowship2015-07-09

Thanks. This will help, just be patient :)

priseli (author)2015-07-09

Mast use dry milk powder ?

hawai50 (author)priseli2015-07-09

Hi, yes it'd need to be dry milk powder. It's not expensive, but really is the key component to making it super soft.

taur561 (author)2015-07-09

Looks super . I am going to try it out . Recipe sounds very simple too ! Good job !

hawai50 (author)taur5612015-07-09

Thanks Taur, I've popped a video in too for those that prefer :)

Vsassi (author)2015-07-05

Very nice recipe! I too have arthritic hands, and will have to wait until I get a new mixer, (old one died, lol) , but I can hardly wait to try this! Thanks so much for putting this up here. :)

rockytopp (author)Vsassi2015-07-09

Watch for a breadmaker at a yard sale or thrift shop. I don't like bread baked in a breadmaker, but I use my favorite recipe and put all the ingredients into my old breadmaker, set it on dough cycle, and as soon as it is through kneading, I remove it from the machine and place it in a greased bowl, cover and continue as if it were hand kneaded. I am still able to do the kneading, but this little trick saves me time to do something else.

hawai50 (author)rockytopp2015-07-09

Good idea - I know what you mean though, I'm not a breadmaker fan. I like to get my hands on the dough and work it :)

Vsassi (author)rockytopp2015-07-09

That is a great idea. Thank you, I will be sure to keep an eye out for one.

hawai50 (author)Vsassi2015-07-05

Thanks so much for your lovely repy Vsassi, I hope you get a new mixer soon.

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