Make your homemade bread lighter by avoiding mistakes made by first-time bakers. Use a high-gluten bread flour. It holds more air bubbles produced by the yeast and gives bread a lighter texture. Give the bread sufficient time to rise. This allows the yeast to expel enough carbon dioxide to make small holes required for a light and airy bread. Set the bread into a hot oven on a baking stone. This expands the gases created during mixing and rising that are still trapped in the dough. These gases create a final lift for the loaves.
Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the yeast over 2 cups of hot water (43.3 to 46.1 degrees C) in a second mixing bowl, and stir in the sugar. Let this yeast mixture sit for 10 minutes to become bubbly.
Stir the flour-salt mixture into the yeast mixture, one cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.
Lightly sprinkle a layer of flour on a countertop. Flip the bowl with the dough upside down on this floured surface, and push the heels of both of your hands down into the dough and away from you to stretch out the dough into a flat oval. Fold this dough in half, turn 90 degrees and repeat, pushing the heels of your hands into the dough. Continue to knead the dough in this manner for a full 10 minutes to develop the gluten, which will hold more air bubbles during baking and create a lighter loaf.
Spread 1 tbsp of olive oil over the dough when the dough springs back after pressing your finger into it. Set the oiled dough into a bowl and cover with a dish towel.
Place this dough on top of the refrigerator or other warm appliance for two hours to rise. The appliance emits heat, which will keep the dough warm during rising, allowing it to double in size.
Press your fist into the centre of the risen dough, and break the dough into two parts.
Use gentle pressure to shape the two halves into loaves to fit inside the two 9-inch loaf pans. Set the dough into each of the pans, cover with the towel, and allow one additional hour to rise.
Place a baking stone on the floor or the lowest rack of a cold oven 30 minutes into the second rising. Set a shallow baking pan with 2 inches of water in it on the rack above the baking stone. Turn the oven to 204 degrees C.
Remove the towel from on top of the two loaf pans, and place the pans in the oven.
Bake at 204 degrees C for 45 to 60 minutes or until lightly browned on top and the interior registers at 93.3 degrees C on a cooking thermometer.
Let the bread loaves cool in the pans for 20 minutes before removing the bread to a cooling rack. Let them cool completely before slicing.
Look for baking stones in cooking stores, or use unglazed terra-cotta tiles.
Tips and warnings
- Look for baking stones in cooking stores, or use unglazed terra-cotta tiles.