I’ve been making this bread for probably a year now. It’s the only recipe I’ll likely ever use because it’s just too easy and too delicious to bother trying a new one! The crust is always chewy and never rock hard and crumbly. Inside you’re left with a hearty, holey, artisan looking bread that you’d pay $3-$4 per loaf at the grocery store. And this is guaranteed to be free from preservatives, artificial colors, flavors and other random chemicals.
– 3 cups lukewarm water
– 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
– 1/2 tablespoon salt
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 6 1/2 cups flour, unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose
1. Grab a BIG mixing bowl. Or big container. Or bucket. I use huge rubbermaid containers that are about the size of a large lasagna pan.
2. Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours.
3. Add the yeast to the water in your big bowl & wisk, then add in sugar and salt. Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.
4. Mix in the flour all at once. Kneading is unnecessary. Mix with a wooden spoon. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. It takes a few minutes.
5. Cover with lid (not sealed or it’ll explode off the top) or saran wrap leaving a pea-sized hole in the top to allow for gas to escape. Forget about it and let it rise for 2 hours (or let it rise overnight if you’re making it before bed).
6. Once 2 hours is up, with floured hands reach in and grab a handful of dough about the size of a large grapefruit (for smaller loaves. use twice the amount for a decent size) You can shape it if you want…I usually just glob the dough on the parchment paper so when it’s baked it looks more rustic :)
7. Let it sit on counter for 30-40 minutes on top of a parchment paper covered baking sheet.
8. Dust top with flour and use a serrated knife to make a few long slits on top.
9. Place on middle rack in preheated 425 degree oven. On bottom rack slide in a pie plate (or something similar) with 1 cup of water. The steam from the water below helps to make your crust amazingly chewy and not rock hard.
10. Bake for about 25 minutes (or until light golden brown or knock on it to see if it sounds hallow) and you’re done!
Before you bake your bread you could also sprinkle shredded cheese on top (or in the dough while mixing), basil, Italian spices, Parmesan cheese, oatmeal – whatever. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make it anything you want! And TRY not to slice your bread until it’s completely cooled for best result.
(the above picture is of about 2 large grapefruit sized pieces of dough)