What’s really cool about homemade bread is the smell of it cooking. I’m not sure that there is a better smell then fresh bread baking. Let’s make some!
There’s really not a lot to making bread. All those different varieties and shapes you see at the market are all made with these ingredients: flour, salt, water, and (sometimes) yeast.
If you’re really broke (hello economy!) get a 10 lb. bag of flour at Fred Meyer for $3.89 and get out that tall white hat and ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron…
Like I wrote earlier, DON’T BUY THE YEAST AT THE GROCERY STORE. Those little packets are a RIPOFF! If you want to use yeast then buy it at a warehouse store. I get mine at Cash and Carry. 2 bucks a pound–that’s the same cost for your 3 tiny packets.
We’ll go over the whole sourdough thing in another post, let’s use the yeast today. Since this may be your first time making bread, we want you to be successful and keep baking. Here comes the recipe:
3 Cups Flour (Bread flour, sure! All Purpose flour, sure!)
1 3/4 Cups Warm Water (Go over the 1 3/4 mark by just a hair, think 1 5/8)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
That’s right. Only 1/4 of a teaspoon of yeast. You’re trying to save money right? One of those ripoff packets contains about 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast. We’ll use 1/4 because we’re going to make a ‘no knead’ bread. That pound of yeast you bought should last a year.
I finally got a compact mixer and was so excited to make bread without kneading the dough on the counter for 15 minutes at a time. I made a couple of loaves and was really satisfied. When I starting this blog I thought about when I didn’t have a mixer. I wish someone would have showed me the ‘no knead’ method earlier. Discovering this method after I got a mixer is like getting a date to the prom after you already told your cousin you’d take her. Lame.
Okay, here we go.
Put the flour and yeast and salt in a bowl. Mix it up (wisk, spoon, your finger). Put the water in. It should be warm, but not HOT. Honestly, I’ve never had the yeast not rise, even when I put some pretty hot water in there. Stir it up until it looks like a soupy mess.
It’s called no knead bread because YOU DON’T KNEAD IT. Leave it alone. Cover it with some plastic wrap and let is sit on the counter for 12 hours. Heck, let it sit there for 16 or 18 hours. I usually mix this up at about 9pm and start the next process around Noon the next day.
“It looks too runny. There are lumps. This makes no sense.”
Just go to bed.
Did you have weird bread dreams? Put some flour on the counter. Plop the dough out on the counter. I use a bench scraper to help here. You can use a spatula if you don’t have one. Pfft, use your hands if you want. Dump it out and throw some flour on top of it. Now we’re trying to work this into a ball. It’s going to be awkward because right beneath the surface it’s STICKY. This is good. We want a high hydration level (as the fancy bakers say) Somehow, get that thing into a ball. Use more flour, but not too much. It should still be floppy or wimpy looking. We don’t want a stiff dough.
Some folks sprinkle bran into a tea towel for this. You can also use cornmeal. I just put flour and cornmeal on a pizza peel and flop this dough onto it. Leave it to rise for 2 hours.
I just discovered that you can use corningware to bake this in. A dutch oven is probably better. Put the container in the oven and preheat. 425 for corningware and 450 for dutch oven.
“Dude, I’m broke. I don’t even know what ‘corningware’ is. Dutch oven? Yeah right. This blog sucks”
Hang on there my greenback challenged friend. You can cook this in a coffee can if you want. Practically anything that you can put in the oven is fair game. Experiment. It’ll be fun. The coffee can will give you an interesting, cylindrical shape.
Now, 2 hours have gone by. The oven is hot. The container is hot. BE CAREFUL! Get the container out. (If I have to tell you to use an oven mitt you are forbidden from reading further) Plop the dough in there. Yes, it looks like a mess, just plop it in there. Put the lid on (if it has one). Put it back in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Take the lid off. (Again, if you are going to use bare hands for this you should have already stopped reading)
Bake another 30 minutes.
If you are using the coffee can method you may need to divide the dough in half to fit in the can. Don’t fill the can all the way with dough, it’s going to rise a little. If you are using the big coffee can you can probably get away with the whole thing in there.
YOUR COOKING TIMES MAY VARY! Why? Because everyone’s oven is different.
We’re all different and that’s what makes us all special.
Keep an eye on it after the first 30 minutes. If it’s turning black TAKE IT OUT. (I don’t know why I bother writing this stuff. If it smells burnt or looks burnt and you still leave it in there because I said ‘cook for 30 minutes’ you have got some counseling to get to)
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