Ah, bread. There’s nothing quite like the smell of homemade bread wafting through your house. I used to be very intimidated with the idea of making my own bread. I was sure I was going to mess it up somehow, and admittedly I have had some bread-making blunders over the years, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really not a big deal. And even seasoned cooks have had blunders, so put your worries aside and know that you’re not alone!
David really likes the European-style bread, the kind that’s crusty on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. Yum! I really like all kinds of bread. When I used to work at a bakery in my hometown, they made the most amazing bread ever with sunflower seeds. Major yum. I haven’t experimented much with that yet, but it’s on my to-do list!
I have settled on a very easy, artisan-style loaf that we just really love around here. The best part is that no kneading is required! This seems like a lot of work but it’s really not. Don’t let the long list of steps scare you. It really comes together easily. Here’s the recipe:
3 cups lukewarm water (slightly warmer than body temperature)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast or 2 (7 1/4 g) packets granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted unbleached, all-purpose flour
1. Mix the yeast with the water in a 5-quart mixing bowl or other bowl of your choosing. The yeast doesn’t have to be completely dissolved.
2. In another bowl, mix together the salt and the flour. When you measure your flour, make sure you don’t pack it down as that can result in too much flour. Just scoop your flour and then level it off with a knife or something.
3. Now add your flour/salt mixture to your water/yeast mixture and stir until it’s uniformly moist. Remember, you don’t have to knead it.
4. And now the dough is ready to rise. Put a lid or piece of plastic wrap over the top and let it hang out on your counter for a couple of hours. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, it may need to rise for a longer time, and that’s okay. Just let it rise until it’s flattened on top.
Your dough is now ready for baking! However, you can just stick it in the fridge now if you want. This dough will keep in your fridge for two weeks! Just hack off what you want when you’re ready to bake.
If you want to bake it now:
1. Sprinkle some flour on your dough.
2. Hack off a grapefruit-sized portion of dough and add flour as needed so it’s not sticky.
3. Form it into a round loaf (though if you don’t want round, whatever shape is good – you do you, girl!). Pull it and stretch it as you’re forming until it’s nice and smooth.
4. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees (seems pretty high, huh? No worries!) Put an empty broiler pan in your oven on a different shelf than what your bread will be on. This will be for water.
5. Dust your loaf with flour and use a knife to make some artsy kind of slashes.
6. Put your loaf into the oven and add about a cup of water to your empty broiler pan. The steam from the water is what gives this bread a nice, crusty exterior.
7. Let it bake for about 30 minutes or so or until the loaf is nice and brown and firm to the touch.
Here is what the finished product looks like!
You can get fancy with different kinds of slashes on your loaf. It’s kind of fun to experiment. And now you can impress your friends and family with your new bread-making skilz! If you try it, let me know!