10 hours ago
March 8, 2012
World's Easiest Bread Recipe
When I first heard of the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day my initial reaction was “Yeah Right”. Any bread that only takes five minutes to make must 1. be a lie or 2. taste horrible. That is the whole appeal of making bread….kneading it until your forearms are stiff…watching it rise all day long. Well, I sure was wrong. I decided one day,when I was very short on time, to try out the Master Bread Recipe. This is now my go-to recipe for making bread. Someday, I hope to use this recipe with wild yeast, but for the time being I am using Red Star Yeast.
I whip the dough up in the morning before I bring Big C to school and by mid morning I am cooking homemade bread for lunchtime sandwiches. This recipe makes four 1 pound boules or you can be like me and make two larger loaves. I use mine right after the initial two hour rise period, but it is just as good after days in the fridge. You will be amazed how easy this recipe is and how you will never want to buy store bought bread again. It took me a couple of tries before I got it perfect and now I can make the recipe in my sleep. Enjoy!
Master Bread Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
3 cups lukewarm water (you can use cold water, but it will take the dough longer to rise. Just don’t use hot water or you may kill the yeast)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast ( you can use any kind of yeast including: instant, rapid rise, bread machine, active dry or cake yeast*. I buy the 2-pound bulk package of Red Star Yeast to drive down the cost. Or you can bake with a sour dough starter, see instructions here.)
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher Salt (adjust to suit your taste or eliminate it all together)
6 1/2 cups (2-pounds) unbleached all-purpose flour
In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded Food Storage Container, dump in the water and add the yeast and salt. Because we are mixing in the flour so quickly it doesn’t matter that the salt and yeast are thrown in together.
Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a long handled wooden spoon or a Danish Dough Whisk, which is one of the tools that makes the job so much easier!
Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough. It will be a wet rough dough.
Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise. When you first mix the dough it will not occupy much of the container.
The dough will be flat on the top and some of the bubbles may even appear to be popping. (If you intend to refrigerate the dough after this stage it can be placed in the refrigerator even if the dough is not perfectly flat. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator.)
The dough can be used right after the initial 2 hour rise, but it is much easier to handle when it is chilled. It is intended for refrigeration and use over the next two weeks, ready for you anytime. The flavor will deepen over that time, developing sourdough characteristics.
Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.
Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears* and form it into a ball.
Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper… (or rest it on a generous layer of corn meal on top of a pizza peel.)
Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes, (although letting it go 60 or even 90 minutes will give you a more open hole structure in the interior of the loaf. This may also improve the look of your loaf and prevent it from splitting on the bottom. ) You will notice that the loaf does not rise much during this rest, in fact it may just spread sideways, this is normal for the dough.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a Baking Stone* on the center rack, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom (never use a glass vessel for this or it will shatter), which will be used to produce steam. (The tray needs to be at least 4 or 5 inches away from your stone to prevent it from cracking.)
*(or Cast Iron Pizza Pan- which will never crack and conducts heat really well. Be careful to dry it after washing rinsing with water or it will rust)
Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a serrated knife. (If your slashes are too shallow you will end up with an oddly shaped loaf and also prevent it from splitting on the bottom.)
Slide the loaf into the oven onto the preheated stone (the one I’m using is the cast iron) and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color. As the bread bakes you should notice a nice oven spring in the dough. This is where the dough rises.
Allow the loaf to cool on a rack until it is room temperature. If you cut into a loaf before it is cooled you will have a tough crust and a gummy interior. It is hard to wait, but you will be happy you did! Make sure you have a nice sharp Bread Knife or you can tear it apart as they do in most of Europe.
I love making homemade bread bowls for my Bison Chili. This recipe can make 4-6 bread bowls depending on how big you want them. Yummy!
I was always scared to make bread, but this recipe has really changed my opinion. The cookbook, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, is a great buy and packed full of other quick recipes for your bread needs. I still love the art of the beautiful Sourdough and kneading fresh dough in my kitchen, but when I am short on time I will reach for this recipe. Happy bread making!
Do you have a favorite bread recipe?