There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked homemade Farmhouse White Bread, warm and smeared with cold butter and piled high with apricot or fig jam, to bring back memories of happier times with my family. Either me baking the bread on a Sunday afternoon with my dad waiting patiently to have the first slice. Or us on vacation somewhere and my dad finding a place to buy a freshly baked loaf of home made farmhouse bread for breakfast.
My later father was born 78 years ago today, and although it has been nearly twenty years since he passed, I miss him every day. After he passed I could not bring myself to bake bread or make any of the other things he loved and that I made especially because he loved them, so this was a bit of a watershed bake.
I did not realise that the rest of the family had noticed my love of farmhouse white bread until a vacation to Paternoster a few years ago.
My brother’s wife rose early on our first morning there, and by the time we came down for breakfast she had a beautiful fresh warm loaf of bread waiting. She had spied a general dealer called Oep Ve Koep on our way into the village the afternoon before, and was sure they would have fresh bread on the Saturday morning. She reached there soon after they opened and found the just baked bread in the airing cupboard in the center of the shop.
I smothered my slice in butter and delicious home made jam that she’d bought too. It was one of my favorite memories of that holiday, and there were many. Since then it’s become our mission to find farmhouse white bread on every trip around the Cape.
Earlier in the year Katriena proclaimed that she had eaten the best home made farmhouse white bread on her trip to Citrusdal. She never did get the recipe from the hostess who served it at the time, but a few weeks later Simone called me to say that Katriena wanted to speak to me. Katriena was so excited… She asked ‘Wanneer kom jy huis toe. Ek gaan vir jou lekker plaas brood bak met soutvleis en tong’ translated meaning ‘When are you coming home, I want to bake bread for you to eat with corned beef and tongue’.
She said that she had perfected her plaas brood or farmhouse bread recipe and couldn’t wait for me to taste it. Of course, that immediately had me craving for freshly baked bread with butter and of all things, Redro or Pecks Anchovette fish paste. I made small tweaks to the recipe and the method and came up with what both Katriena and Simone claim is the perfect loaf of bread. Good for sandwiches, french toast, eating with soup or just with a thick smear of your favorite butter or Labneh and fresh fruit, berries or this Easy Spiced Kumquat Marmalade Jam.
We never did get to eat the bread with corned beef and tongue because it was gone in a flash every time. This is such a simple and easy home made farmstyle bread that you will wonder why you bother to buy bread at all.
Top tips for baking farmhouse white bread
- Read the instructions – this is a relatively easy recipe to make but it is useful to follow the techniques mentioned, at least in the first bake.
- Use good quality bread flour – The bread flour does give a firmer crumb to this bread and makes it light and springy because of the high gluten content.
- Weigh the flour – there is too much variance between how much flour is scooped or spooned into a cup and weighing gives a consistent result.
- Use the right yeast that is not too old or expired – For this recipe we use Instant yeast and it has never failed. Active dry yeast is a little more tricky and I’ve had so many fails in the past that I don’t even bother with it any more.
- A stickier dough results in a softer crumb – If the dough is too dry before the first rise and the flour absorbs more of the water it will be heavy textured. Too much flour also reduces the amount of water available for the yeast to do it’s thing.
- Add enough salt to the dough – This not only flavors the dough but tempers the effect of the yeast. Too much salt though and it won’t rise.
- Flatten the dough with your hands and then roll it up and place seam side down in the pan – This ensures that there is an even second rise and the shape stays intact.
- Slash the tops of the loaves – This allows the dough to rise without making huge cracks in the top or sides.
- Preheat the oven – Ensure that the oven has reached the optimal temperature before placing the pans inside. This can take up to 30 minutes so don’t wait until the end of the second rise to turn it on.
- Dust the top of the dough with flour – This ensures the farmhouse look of the finished bread.
Other bread recipes you may like to try
- Gluten Free Keto Almond Coconut bread
- Easy Moist Banana Walnut bread
- Scrumptious Banana bread with self rising flour
- Brioche Bread and Butter pudding (brood porring)
Homemade Farmhouse White Bread recipe
- 500 ml luke warm milk approximately 2 cups
- 2 large eggs
- 30 ml olive oil approximately 2 tablespoons
- 500 grams bread flour approximately 3 1/2 cups
- 10 grams instant yeast
- 5 ml salt approximately 1 teaspoon
- 10 ml sugar approximately 2 teaspoons
- Measure the warm milk into a jug then add the eggs, sugar and olive oil. Whisk for a minute to combine and ensure the whites are amalgamated.
- Sift the flour into a bowl and add the yeast and salt.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in half the eggy milk mixture.
- Mix it in with the back of a wooden spoon or your hands and add more milk until you have a soft dough.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes then make into a ball and place into a well oiled bowl to rise.
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or more, until doubled in size.
- When the dough has risen enough, punch it down and remove from the bowl.
- On a lightly floured surface, gently flatten the dough to remove air bubbles and shape to a rectangle the width of the bread pan.
- Roll up then place seam side down in the floured bread tin.
- Dust with flour then leave to rise again for 45-60 minutes.
- Use a sharp knife to cut diagonal slits on the top of the dough. This will ensure an even rise.
- 30 minutes before the end of the second rise, heat the oven to 220 C / 425 F / Gas Mark 7.
- When the bread is ready to bake, turn the oven down to 190 C / 375 F / Gas Mark 5, and place in the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes.
- When tapped, the bread will sound hollow when it is fully cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.
Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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