Ah, homemade bread! Who can resist the odor of bread being baked in the oven? And when it can be so easy to bake a loaf of bread that tastes so good and looks like an artisan loaf that you might have spent more than five bucks on at the bake shop, why not do it yourself?
I came across this easy to bake bread some years ago in the New York Times. It is so easy, that my ten year old son will bake this himself at times (although he prefers it when I do the work!). This is one of those breads that your company will be dying to have a slice of as soon as it comes out of the oven – but you should let it cool down at least for 15 to 20 minutes before trying to slice it.
There is no kneading required for this bread at all. However, you do have to prepare it the day ahead of when you want to make it. Time does all the work for you.
- 3 cups of all purpose white flour
- 1 5/8 cups of water (Basically, 1 1/2 cups with an additional tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
Put the flour in a large bowl. Mix the yeast and salt into the water. Pour the water with the salt and yeast into the flour. Stir until all of the flour has absorbed the water. You should end up with a dough that is not sticky.
Cover the bowl with plastic and leave for 18 hours or so. The dough should have risen in the bowl.
Dust a piece of parchment or wax paper with flour, and scoop the dough out of the bowl and form into a ball on the paper, folding the dough over a few times.
Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rise again for another few hours.
Preheat your oven to 450F. You should also use a 4 to 6 quart dutch oven with a lid or something similar to bake your bread. Put this in the oven as it is being preheated to allow it to also heat up.
After about 20 to 30 minutes, simply roll the dough off the parchment paper into the dutch oven and put the lid on the dutch oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid of the dutch oven and continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the bread from the dutch oven and place the loaf on a cooling rack.
You could also sprinkle corn meal on the dough before you bake it.
If you want to use whole wheat flour, I have had success using 2 cups of wholewheat flour and 1 cup of all purpose white flour with a bit more water than called for above. I did find that this variation had a bit of a “sourdough” taste to it, and I preferred eating this toasted.