Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Simple Crusty Homemade Bread

As someone who doesn't love to bake, I must say that baking bread seemed pretty scary to me.  I always assumed I had to knead it just right, for just the amount of time, have exactly the right mixture of ingredients, and then if I did all that and the stars aligned and I practiced with a few dozen loaves, I might finally get a good loaf of bread.

While that may be true for some types of bread, I've discovered a pretty fool-proof bread that consistently turns out absolutely wonderful.  And best of all, it's no-knead.  Fair warning, you will need to mix it up a day before you plan to make the bread, but it's pretty easy to remember to mix 4 ingredients briefly and let it sit on the counter for a day just to have amazing homemade bread.

Crusty Homemade Bread
There are many versions of this bread out there.  I use a little bit more yeast than some just because I like a light, airy bread.  Feel free to adapt to your liking.

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp yeast
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup water

Mix the dry ingredients together to incorporate.  Add the water, and mix with a silicone spatula until the mixture becomes sticky throughout.  It'll look very sticky and scraggly, and that's what we're going for.  Cover with plastic wrap, set on the counter and let sit for 18-24 hours.

Bread Dough Day 1

The next day, it will look like this:

Bread Dough Day 2

When you're ready to bake the bread, place a dutch oven (or a large stock pot) with lid in oven and heat to 450 degrees, and leave in there for 30 minutes to fully heat the dutch oven.

While the dutch oven is heating, remove dough from bowl onto a heavily floured surface.  Sprinkle flour over top (you may need a decent amount, this is super sticky) and shape into a ball or oval (depending on size/shape of your dutch oven).  Cover loosely with more plastic wrap and let rest for 30 min.

Bread Dough Loaf

After the heating and resting 30 min is up, remove dutch oven from oven, remove lid, and drop dough (it will be tricky to pick up, make sure you flour your hands) into the pot.  There is no need to grease the pot, just a dry pot is fine.  Put the lid on and stick it in the oven for 30 min.

When 30 min is up, remove the lid and leave in the oven for another 10-15 min.  If it's a round loaf it will need more like 15 min, if it's oblong it may only need 10-12.  Then remove it from the oven, take the bread out (I use tongs) and place on a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Bread Dough Sliced