Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The Easiest and Best Bread Ever!
Simple Crusty Bread
(makes 4 loaves)
1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast (regular, not rapid-rise)
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt (I use sea salt)
6 1/2 cups flour (I have used all-purpose and bread, both work fine)
In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water. Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2-5 hours.
Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit sized piece with a knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. **Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes.** (see note) Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it, loosely covered.
Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated knife. Slide onto stone. Pour 1 cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
Note**If not using baking stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased non-stick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, or 1 hour 40 minutes if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for at least 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack** I use a stone, but I don't preheat the stone, I shape and let the dough rest directly on the stone and I still use the steam. I have also baked this on a bar pan or cookie sheet with no preheating and no steam. Most anything you do should work fine. It is seriously, so easy and you can't mess it up.
Note 2** Recently we've been replacing one cup of the flour with 1 cup of rice bran.
Note 3** The refigerated dough should keep for about a week.