If you can't tell I LOVE to bake, especially bread. There is just something about the smell that fills the entire house and the finished product is always to. die. for. It's the one thing I feel that I can consistently do right. It also helps that bread is made with simple ingredients that I always have handy.
Yields 2 loaves
3 cups lukewarm water1 1/2 Tbsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp salt
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus some for dusting
In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups of lukewarm water. Stir in flour, mixing until combined. Dough will be very loose, don't worry, it's supposed to be this way. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature 2 hours up to 5 hours.
After the dough has risen you can either bake or refrigerate for later.
To refrigerate: Cover in an airtight container, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, divide dough in half to form your first loaf. Form a loaf by stretching the dough over itself, creating a smooth top and a lumpy bottom. Place dough on sprayed parchment paper and let rest for 1 1/2 hours.
To Bake: Divide dough in half to form your first loaf by stretching the dough over itself, creating a smooth top and a lumpy bottom. Place dough on a sprayed parchment paper and let rest for 40 minutes.
To Prepare you oven: place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven (I only had a metal cake pan- that works fine DON'T USE GLASS). Place a baking stone on the middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Heat stone at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes before baking.
After the dough has rested and is ready to bake, dust the dough lightly with flour , slash the top with a serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide the dough (with the parchment paper) on to the hot baking stone. Pour one cup of hot water into the broiler pan and shut the oven quickly to trap the steam. Bake the bread until well browned, about 24 -28 minutes. Cool completely.
If you don't have a baking stone, try turning a rimmed baking sheet upside down and heating it in the 450 degree F. for 10 minutes prior to baking. Bake for 20 - 22 minutes.
I have made this recipe 3 times (in the last two weeks) and it is great! I have put a fully baked loaf in the freezer and used it on nights when I don't have time to make something after work. After thawing I pop it in an oven heated to 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes and the crust will crisp up again and the inside will be be soft and warm.
I have also baked the bread a day in advance, let it cool then store in a gallon bag. Then I will pop it in an oven heated to 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes and the crust will crisp up again and the inside will be be soft and warm.
Leftovers: If you have any... It makes a delicious french toast the next morning! I'm sure that if I let it sit out for a few days it would also make some tasty croutons.
What I've used it for: Panini sandwiches, french toast, great with soups, killer garlic bread! (more uses to come I'm sure.)
Recipe: Mel's Kitchen Cafe