This is all you need.
Homemade bread should be ubiquitous. It is cheaper than buying bread. It requires less effort than popping to the shops to buy bread. It is more delicious than any bought bread. And the satisfaction and smell of a freshly baked loaf brings you as close as you are ever going to get to divinity.
Homemade bread can only become universal with accessibility. This does not mean having to spend a fortune on specialised equipment or ingredients. This recipe takes the commercialisation of baking and dismisses it. You can make bread anywhere. Anywhere, so long as you can find a mug, a bowl, a tin (or tray, dish, pot… anything) and an oven. And you can forego the bowl if you wish.
Takes a few hours in total, but about 5-10 minutes in the kitchen. Perfect for dinner parties at home or away.
Two and a quarter full mugs of plain or strong flour (they both work fine…)
One full mug of tepid water (hot+cold tap mix)
A sachet of yeast (or a heaped teaspoon)
Enough salt to just coat the bottom of the mug
Makes 1 large loaf, but size will depend on your mug
1. Measure out the flour into a bowl using a dry mug. Measure the salt by just coating the bottom surface of the same mug you used to measure the flour. If your mug is curved at the bottom, add a pinch extra. Rub in the salt and then add the sachet of yeast and rub that in too.
TIP: Water-flour ratio doesn’t need to be exact, as great bread can be made much more or less water than the measurements given here.
2. Fill your mug with tap water. You should dunk your fingers in and if you can’t tell whether its hot or cold then it’s perfect. Use one hand to mix into the dry ingredients together into a rough dough. Don’t worry if you find it a little wet – this is right.
TIP: to get sticky dough off your hand, rub your doughy hand in more flour
3. Cover (with clingfilm or a damp teacloth) and leave the dough to rest for 40 minutes, or until noticeably plumper.
4. When rested, fill your mug with water and use this to dip your fingers in to stop them sticking. Slide your wet fingers underneath the dough and firmly fold it in half. Rotate the dough and fold in half again. Repeat until you have forced all the air out of the dough (you should hear little high pitched squeaks!). Notice how smooth it is? This is what a kneaded dough looks like.
5. Cover and rest again for an hour, or until nearly doubled in size.
TIP: If, at any point, you need to go out, just stick your bread in the fridge. It will slow down your 1 hour resting time to about 10-12 hours, so you can just forget about it until the morning or when you get back.
6. Once rested, it’s time to shape the dough. Generously flour a work surface and, using slightly wet fingers, scoop the dough out onto it. Now, flour your fist and punch it into a rough square. It doesn’t need to be thin, keep it at least an inch thick; just punched enough so you can discern four corner-ish shapes.
7. To shape, flour your hands and grab your corners and fold them into the middle of the dough, pressing down so each one sticks. Now, gather all the edges of the dough together and press them together in the middle, holding them so they stick. Flip your bread over and place on your heavily floured baking tin to prove.
TIP: Your baking tin can be anything. Easiest is a baking or roasting tray, but a big pot with a lid is probably best as you can put the lid on for the first 15 minutes of baking to create steam as in a true bakers’ oven.
8. Rest (prove) for a final hour, or until doubled in size again. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 210 degrees.
9. Score the top of your bread. A serrated knife is best and I would aim for cuts around 5mm – 10mm deep. I recommend a simple cross shape if you are unsure of patterns.
10. Bake for 30-45 minutes. You want a dark golden brown colour and a good thick crust!
A white Mug Bread, next to a massive Rye Sourdough that takes over 24 hours to make.