I live with a “bread man”. I don’t mean a delivery “bread man”. I mean a man who cannot live without bread…..every day.
During this COVID-19 period of isolation I was and still am getting groceries delivered rather than take unnecessary risks going into a store. The challenge with waiting for deliveries was that I had to keep a good inventory of bread in stock. I was using up my freezer drawer space to keep 3 or 4 loaves of commercial bread in house to keep up with my sweeties love for bread. That took up a lot of space. There was very little room left for other foods to be in the freezer.
I decided, like the rest of the country, that I would learn to bake my own bread. For the first few months, getting flour and yeast in my grocery orders was “hit and miss”. Everyone took up baking bread while in isolation. Thankfully flour and yeast are more readily available.
I’ve tried several different recipes….some whole wheat, some with a mix of whole grain and all-purpose. Some were good and some were not so good.
The one my sweetie likes the most is a good old “white loaf” with a chewy crust and great home baked bread flavor.
It is an easy recipe and a quick dough recipe but the “resting” is time consuming…..the results are worth the wait. If you have room in your refrigerator or you have a second fridge you could make the dough every other day to keep fresh bread baking in the oven as needed.
The recipe is here for you to try:
HOMEMADE ARTISAN BREAD
3 and 3/4 leveled cups bread flour (you could make it with all-purpose flour too)
2 tsp instant yeast (I used regular yeast)
2 tsp course salt
1 and 1/2 cups cool water
A little more flour is needed later for working the dough into loaves.
Cornmeal to sprinkle on the baking sheet.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Pour in the cool water and mix to combine. The dough will be a bit shaggy. I use my hands to bring it all together making sure all of the flour is incorporated in the ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and leave on the counter for 2 to 3 hours.
After the room temperature 3 hours place the covered bowl of dough in the refrigerator overnight or for as long as 2 days. I have even left it in the fridge for 3 days and got great results. The longer it is left in the fridge the better the flavor of the finished product will be.
Lightly dust a pastry board or your clean kitchen counter with flour. Sprinkle cornmeal on your baking sheet. I use a “clay” baking sheet. But any baking sheet will do the trick.
Pour the dough onto the floured surface and work with it for a few minutes making it into a round mound. Using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, divide the dough into halves. With floured hands form the dough into long loaves. Cover these uncooked loaves of dough with plastic wrap and let them rest for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
After the 45 minute resting period, your oven should be hot enough. Place a cast iron or metal baking dish into the lower shelf of your oven. Boil 4 cups of water in a kettle. Quickly, pour the 4 cups of hot water into the empty iron or metal baking dish and immediately place the uncovered baking sheet with the dough onto the middle rack of the oven. This water below the cooking bread will steam and create a crispy crust on your bread.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.
You can freeze these loaves if you wish, but, oh my goodness, this bread warm out of the oven is a treat to behold. I have to confess that I have had a few pieces of this bread, even though it’s not gluten free. It is hard to pass on.
So if you have a “bread man” in your home, as I do, then give this easy and delicious recipe a try. Yummy!