Bread is very simple.
Here is my new favorite bread recipe. I started with the Best Recipe recipe for “Rustic Bread” and simplified it because I’m lazy. It comes out terrific.
It takes less than 5 minutes work. Yes, really.
- Put 6 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp salt, 3 tsp yeast in big bowl
- Add 2 3/4 c water or so. 2.5 – 3.0 cups is fine
- Mix with one hand until it’s gloopy, about 2 minutes. No, don’t kneed it
- Cover the bowl with aluminum foil for 2 hrs in a warm place
- Flour a baking sheet
- Grab 1/2 the dough and plop it on the pan
- Roll it around a tiny bit so it looks more like a loaf
- Grab the other half of the dough and do the same
- Turn on the oven to 450
- When the oven comes up to temperature (10-20 minutes) put the pre-bread in
- Take out the finished bread 45 minutes later
- Eat it!
Here is “Bread Making Level 2”. If you want a really nice thick crust do this:
- Put a heavy, oven safe pan in the oven below the bread. (cast iron is good)
- Just before you put the pre-bread into the oven, pour some boiling water in the pan
The steam will give the bread a thick “meaty” crust.
That recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated’s “Best Recipe” cookbook. It’s a rustic country bread recipe. I find it interesting that, first, one can distill their full-page recipe down to this, and second, this excellent recipe is so gosh darn simple.
Here are some comments on the recipe:
Yes, I just mix it until it’s goopy, like 3 minutes of stirring with one hand in a bowl. The dough will be very wet and it sticks to everything. There’s no point in getting any utensils all gooped up. And I didn’t “work” the dough at all.
There’s all kinds of yeast treatments, like letting it develop for days on end, sourdough starter and the like. I guess they do a little something but feh, just add yeast. And I’ve seen all kinds of yeast: instant, nearly instant, super instant, wet, slimy, goopy. I’ve never tasted or witnessed much of a difference. I used Fleishmann’s #2139 Instant Dry Yeast in a 1 lb vacuum sealed bag.