I love and did a lot more cooking while my daughter did a lot more baking in the kitchen. She had that knack of precisely following the directions and the patience. I learned a lot from her when it came to baking with yeast. So when I visited her recently, to the Spokane area, I was thrilled when she enthusiastically said yes to my request that I wanted to make bread with her. This is the recipe she used and followed. I did a repeat at home and it came out great again. One of many things I like about this recipe is that I didn’t have to wait as long (hours) for the bread to rise. This bread came out splendidly. So with a glass of wine and homemade bread, we had a lovely conversation for hours. What more do you need? I thoroughly enjoyed being in the kitchen with my daughter again – making bread together.
I don’t know about you, but working with yeast intimidates me. So I’ve decided to keep defeating that ‘fear’ and make more bread and other items that use yeast to get over it ☺.
Give this a try.
6 ½ Cups of All Purpose Flour – best to use one with more protein than normal
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
3 ¼ cups of warm water, 110-105 degrees
Pinch of sugar – food for yeast
1 ½ Tbsp instant/rapid rise yeast.
If using Active Yeast, dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water and let it sit until frothy, about 10 minutes. You want to make sure you proof the yeast to be sure the rest of the process will go perfect. Then add it to the flour and salt mixture and continue. You may need more time to let dough rise a little as well.
Cornmeal for dusting
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Set one rack in the oven in the lowest position of the oven and the other rack in the middle position.
In a very large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast. If using Active Yeast, proof the yeast first. Then proceed to #3
Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniformly moist. You don’t want patches of dry flour. The dough should be sticky and conform to the shape of the bowl. If you see parts of the dough that is still dry, add more warm water by sprinkling just a few drops at a time.
Now for the opposite, if for some reason the dough seems too wet, add a tablespoon or more of flour until you get that sticky dough.
Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap, or a warm towel and let it sit on the counter in a warm spot for 2 hours.
Dust a sturdy baking sheet with cornmeal. This will help give the bread that crusty crunch on the bottom while still keeping the inside fluffy.
Dust the surface of the dough and your hands lightly with flour. This will help the dough from sticking to your hands. Don’t dust with too much flour that you feel like you’re incorporating more flour into the dough.
Cut dough in half and take one half of the dough. And dust this half with flour. Gently work the dough into a smooth ball, stretching the surface and tucking the ends underneath. Only add more flour to prevent the dough sticking to your hands without overworking the dough. Tricky right. It’s just a matter of not over kneading and working the dough.
Put the dough ball onto the prepared baking sheet or pizza stone and let it rest at room temperature, uncovered for about 40-45 minutes. The dough will rise a little bit more and may even spread / flatten a little but that is ok. It will still turn out wonderful.
Place a metal pan (large cake or baking pan) on the bottom rack
Dust the dough with flour again. Using a sharp knife, make a few ½ inch deep slashes in the dough ( / / / or scallop, cross or tic tac toe pattern will ‘decorate’ and look nice on top of the bread)
Fill the metal pan with about 1 cup of warm tap water. Slide the baking sheet with the bread dough into the oven.
Bake until the bread is a nice golden brown, about 30 minutes (depending on your oven). Cool completely on a wire rack.
I’ll be surprised if this loaf lasts more than a day. There’s something about home made bread that it’s gone in a day. Goes wonderfully well with any meal, especially with soup or salad or just with a glass of wine.