Awesome Bread Anyone Can Make!

This one is thanks to Kayse for her Pintrist addiction!

The full recipe can be found here, but just in case something ever happens to it, here’s my super simple (but really well documented) version that makes 1 loaf vs. the 2 from the site:

what you need:

-15-16oz of good quality flour -aka King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (why the range? Because your flour may be more or less dry than mine depending on your location, season and storage method… I use 15oz of fresh flour for reference)

1.5 teaspoons of salt. I like tasting a little salt in my bread, so if you do also, don’t add any more! Low sodium people can cut up to .5 teaspoons.

.5 teaspoon of instant yeast (active dry works too, just make sure its not too old and don’t use the whole packet!) ** and no, that is not a typo… this dough rests all night, so .5 teaspoon of yeast has plenty of time to reproduce into enough active cultures.

-1 1/3 - 1 1/2 cups of warm water (again you get a range due to flour dryness. You do NOT want a sticky, batter-like dough, but all of the flour must incorporate so just add a drop or two until this happens) **water temp does matter somewhat in that you want to start with water at least 80 degrees, but NOT the 105-110 that you would normally use for activating yeast in normal recipes. This dough will proof over night, so you do not want your yeast overly excited.

1 (or 2 if making a large batch) cast iron pots with lids. If you don’t have cast iron pots, any pots rated for 425 degree oven cooking will work as long as they have lids. If you don’t have oven suitable pots, other metal pans can be used in a pinch. (I’ve made rolls by pairing 2 pie tins to create a pan/lid system), so be creative, this recipe is well worth it! When possible though, get yourself a cast iron pot of a size suitable for making this bread because nothing beats the right tool!

Night before:
Mix dry ingredients with a whisk until well incorporated. Add water, stir with a spoon or Dutch Whisk until all the flour has been incorporated into a somewhat cohesive, but not overly slack dough. It should just sort of sit there like a lump with no stray flour left.

Put a cover over the bowl and set in a draft free area overnight. (I just set it in the oven as I don’t have to worry about someone turning it on accidentally)

After 12-18 hours, generously flour a worktop or cutting board. Your dough will look very different! It should now look like a bubble filled moist sponge that more than doubled in size. With a scraper, get as much of your dough out and onto the flour.

Flour your sticky dough, but be very careful NOT to have loose amounts lingering on the surface. (excessive unincorporated flour that winds up in the middle of your dough is considered ‘raw’ and will leave an ugly gray line. safe to eat, just ugly.) Just add enough to prevent it from sticking to your fingers and brush the rest off. (or pat it and make big puffs of flour like a derp, just like I do when I’m not paying attention!)

Press it somewhat flat by starting at the center and pushing outward in all directions. We’re not making a pizza here, so don’t go nuts! We just want to degas ( as in de-gas) the dough. As bubbles of air make their way to outside, be sure to pat them to expel the trapped gas. Bread noobs will be reluctant to do this because they think gas bubbles = neat holes in the baked bread. WRONG! We degas the bread to avoid giant holes, but also to allow the active yeast to consume more food and develop the gluten. Trust me, If you had bubbles to pop at this point, they will absolutely come back.

Now like an envelope, you will want to draw the dough nearest you (south) into a flap that overlaps to the center of your dough. Now draw the opposite side (north)to overlap somewhat your first flap. Drag one side (West) over top of (north and south) and then just keep rolling the whole thing until east is on the bottom . If that was confusing, just go south,north, west, east and flip the whole thing so all of your flaps are on the bottom.

Press flat again, though this time it will not give as much. If the dough is really tight, you might just call it a day. To go for the gold, however, flip back over to expose the messy flap side. You will want to repeat your south, north, west, east thing, though I get all origami on my dough and us the corners between the flaps (so like SW,NE, SE, NW). Flip your dough so that the messy flap side is again on the bottom and you’re done.

Typically I’ll lay my dough on a very lightly floured piece of parchment paper (pro move since the dough will stick while it rises a little bit, and I dislike too much flour on my finished bread.) Let rise for 60 minutes in a draft free area (not the oven this time!). Cover with another piece of parchment or a lint free towel.

After 60 mins, start your oven with a cast iron pot already inside (pot must preheat with the oven!) The key to this bread being a perfect replica for bakery bread is that a good metal pot will trap the steam and heat that a normal home oven can not retain. Commercial ovens both get hotter and inject steam throughout the bake to give the perfect crust. So if you don’t have a lidded cast iron pot… get one asap. In the mean time, you can use a 425 degree safe metal pan of any type and just cover with another pan, or lid. The key is to prevent steam from escaping. (I use 2 Le Crusset sauce pans than have frying pan lids… these are absolutely perfect.)

425 degrees, wait until fully preheated. Remove your pan very carefully. Remove excess flour from your dough by brushing with hands,etc. Then very carefully flip the dough into the hot pan. (messy flap side should now be up and will create awesome cracks in the top when fully baked!) Put your lid on and place back in the oven for 40 minutes.
Now remove lid and allow to bake for an additional 4-10 minutes until desired brownness is achieved.
Try your best to let the loaf rest for at least 1 hour before cutting. In the least, let it finish making its crackling sound before slicing into it or the dough may appear a little gummy. Bread needs resting time, so its really worth the wait. If you must slice off a piece, do it from the end as cutting into the heart of the loaf too soon is just a crime. =P

In order to cut into thin slices, use an electric knife.


P.S. As hinted at, I make rolls from this dough as well though it takes a little courage to set up. Take your dough, do the S,N,W,E folding and then cut into equal pieces (4 parts make some awesome, albeit large, rolls for a big burger or BBQ pork sandwiches!) Whatever the number you divide into, be aware than you will need a larger pan to accommodate them! (bread loaf takes more vertical space, rolls need more horizontal space).

Take each piece, flour the sticky cut edges and do the S,N,W,E folding again for each roll to make perfect mini-loaves. Set each on lightly floured parchment and let rest for the same 60 minutes. Make note of the size of each roll and realize that they will grow in size over the hour of rise time. If they do not look like they will fit in one pan, be sure to preheat the oven with an extra pan! If its not needed, great, but if you find yourself short on space, its 20 minutes of lost time to preheat an extra pan.

When laying in hot pans, try to flip them a little against the sides of your pan so that they don’t crowd the bottom. The pan sides will help support them to bake upwards, rather than outwards. Don’t worry that your rolls touch, they will be easy to pull apart once baked as long as you don’t overlap or layer them too much.

Though I have not tried this yet (but will soon!), I suspect you can make little dinner rolls out of these as well and brush the tops with butter. When I try it, I’ll post the results. =)

I don’t know about anyone! I have tried bread recipe after bread recipe without success. I’ll give this one a try. If I can make it successfully, then yes, probably anyone can :wink:

As mentioned in the article linked at the top of Mirosa’s post, the basic recipe is from My Bread by Jim Lahey. There was a stack on the shelf at the Lodge Factory Outlet store when I was there a couple of months ago, so I picked up a copy. The recipe in the book can mostly be done with one hand, only occasionally do I have to ask “Could I borrow a hand, dear?” The most dangerous part is getting the dough into the pot, he uses 475F as his default cook temperature, the weight of the pot means don’t even try to pick it up with only one hand unless you fancy a trip to the ER. I have successfully made a loaf three times now. The end result is quite excellent, we both enjoy it a lot. The book has more bread recipes, none of which I have tried yet.