If you follow the blog regularly then you know that I write a lot about baking bread. For me, bread baking is a relaxing endeavor and I love the taste and smell of homemade bread more than anything you can buy from the supermarket. Of course, not everyone has time to put into making fresh loaves of bread all of the time. It can be a process and take several hours and a lot of people just feel like it is not worth the effort.But what if you could make fresh loaves of bread that were as easy as possible? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have fresh bread for the sandwich for work tomorrow or to go with your dinner tonight? It can happen if you make use of this recipe from Nick Fox from New York Times Cooking. The idea of the recipe comes from Jeff Hertzberg, a doctor from Minneapolis, who worked to streamline the bread-making process. Now you can have no fuss bread with just a little bit of effort on your part.
Simple Crusty Bread
1 ½ tablespoons yeast
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
6 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
In a large bowl or plastic container, mix the yeast and the salt into 3 cups of lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in the flour, mixing the flour into the water mixture until there are no dry patches. The dough will be quite loose. Cover the bowl or container, but not with an airtight lid. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
Bake the bread at this point or refrigerate the dough, covered, for as long as two weeks. When you are ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on the dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put the dough on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; allow the dough to rest for about 40 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining dough or refrigerate it.
Place broiler pan on the bottom of the oven. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and turn the oven to 450 degrees; heat the stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
Dust the dough with flour, slash the top of the dough with a serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide the dough onto the stone. Pour one cup of hot water into the broiler pan and shut the oven quickly to trap the steam. Bake the bread until it is well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
Okay, so you can’t make a fresh, homemade loaf bread in 30 minutes but once you have let the dough rise at room temperature and refrigerated it, the hard part is over. It then just becomes taking a portion, letting it rest for 40 minutes and cooking it. This recipe makes enough for 4 loaves of bread so you can get plenty of use out of it. The dough itself is rather sticky when you make it but it is still pretty easy to work with. You don’t have to go through all of the kneading and everything else to prepare it. Once you put it in the oven you can brown it to your liking and it is great for any meal, to use for toast, sandwiches or just to have fresh bread around when you want it. You can even bake all 4 loaves at once and freeze the excess until you want to use it so you always have fresh bread around. I have used this recipe several times to make quicker bread when I know we are having people over for dinner and I want some fresh bread for the meal. It is flavorful, crusty and has a great chew. The picture I took is of loaves that aren’t quite as browned as I normally like but they are still quite good.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!