Homemade bread is intimidating. I grew up on Bunny and Wonder, but fell in love with fresh baked bread courtesy of Panera while I was in college. One of my friends bought me The Joy of Cooking, and after staring longingly at the loaves (a 45 minute drive away from my house) and begrudgingly at the cookbook for about two years; I took the plunge into baking bread at home. I love it. I won’t ever go back.
Not only is making bread at home rewarding, it is also cheap. The recipe I am going to share only costs about .55 a loaf in dry ingredients. You can’t beat that!
Now, I am not a professional baker by any means. I’m still trying out new recipes at every turn, but I have tried about ten different recipes for everything from whole grain sandwich bread to nice Artisan bread like what I love at Panera. It has been one heck of a journey. Something about reading a recipe that says “knead until elastic” and trying to replicate it with no experience whatsoever was a bit, “challenging” (feel free to read that as curse inducing). Honestly, what is the baking definition of elastic? Knead thoroughly, but do not overwork, too much kneading will result in poor texture! There aren’t even any pictures to show what is elastic, or shiny, or whatever other baking jargon they have that I had no clue what it meant as a virgin baker. Agh! Talk about feeling overwhelmed.
That’s why I love this recipe, courtesy of Mother Earth Living. It gives a perfect loaf of bakery quality Artisan style bread every time, and there is no kneading! Let me tell you. This stuff is too good to be true. The baking gods will smile upon you and you too will fall in love with homemade bread!
Time commitment: Working time 10 minutes, Raising time 12-24 hours, Working time 10 minutes, Raising time 2-4 hours, Preheating time 20 minutes, Baking time 30-45 minutes
The ingredients are so straight forward that I have them memorized at this point.
¼ tsp yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ c warm water
3 c flour, plus more for dusting your working surface and hands
You’ll also need cling wrap, kitchen towels, an oven, and a Dutch oven.
Dissolve your yeast in the warm water, this normally takes about five minutes for me. I stir the water after the yeast dissolves to mix everything up. It isn’t crucial, but it gives me peace of mind.
|The dough will rise to fill the bowl. The bubbles show that it is ready.|
|It's a baking montage!|