I bake every five days or so, usually well before I’m out of bread in summer because it molds before I finish eating it. Less often in winter, because it doesn’t.
I’ve been doing this for most of the fifteen years I’ve lived in the Gulch, and regularly for all the (ten years in November!) I’ve been in the Lair. The recipe kind of evolves over time, but I’m still no expert. I’m not a great baker or anything – I don’t really have ten years’ experience, just one year’s experience repeated ten times.
First, wear out your dog.
Start the bread by proving two teaspoons of yeast in 2 1/2 cups warm water* with two teaspoons salt and 3 tablespoons sugar, then add an egg and a little oil…
Then beat in sifted all-purpose flour until the dough ball just stops sticking to the sides of the bowl…
It should still be a bit moist and sticky. Dump it out onto a floured table and knead the hell out of it until it’s … well, thoroughly kneaded, adding a little flour at a time as needed. I’ve read treatises on what kneading does to the dough but can’t say I ever fully understood it. Takes about ten minutes and mustn’t be scrimped. With practice you’ll know when it’s ready. Too much added flour will cause the dough ball to get too dry, so take it easy. This part takes practice but imperfection won’t totally ruin anything.
This is the part that I’m still working on: At this point I have not enough dough for two loaves and too much for one. For a long time I settled for two rather flat loaves but that stopped being acceptable; so now I chop off a little at a time, turning the extra into bread sticks…
And there you go.
*I live in a very arid environment at 6000 feet, so don’t fear to fiddle with fluids if this doesn’t work out well for you. This is just what I ended up with after much experience with poor results.