Yes, I baked this loaf of bread myself! And you can, too! This homemade bread recipe (borrowed from my friend, Michelle) is simple to do, and best of all, there is no need for a bread machine because this is a NO knead bread recipe! Yeah!!
Everyone I know who owns a big bread-making appliance complains about the counterspace it takes up and how rarely they actually use it. Plus, they are expensive. This recipe - while it does take patience to wait for each step - is really fun and easy to do since the work part is a cinch. Bonus, old-fashioned ingredients and no preservatives in this bread!
It's all about the timing, and it requires very little in the way of kitchen gadgets, or tools, to make a beautiful loaf of bread. I bet you have most of what you need in your kitchen right now. If you find a package of yeast and want to test it, check out my video on How To Test Yeast BEFORE You Bake (make sure to watch the whole thing so you see the end result of the test because it almost fooled me at first).
This is my first "long form" video. I hope you enjoy it. The directions that I talk about in the video are all listed below for you, but seeing the bread making process is helpful, at least it was for me when Michelle taught me this skill. Now I get to share this experience with all the Here We Are viewers, readers, and listeners. There is something very earthy about making bread, more so than other types of food; and the ingredients are so basic that it makes you wonder what all those ingredients are in many store-bought loaves. TASTING TIP: Have the softened butter handy for when it cools and you can cut it, trust me, it won't last long!
Basic Bread Recipe
3 cups bread flour -- NOT sifted, not packed down
1 1/4 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
1 1/3 cup cool or room temperature water
Extra flour or cornmeal for dusting
Saran (plastic wrap)
Pastry cutter or dough scraper
Lint free dish cloth
2 Medium size bowls (one to mix in, one to let the dough rise)
Cutting board or non-stick mat
Ceramic pot with a lid
HOW TO MAKE THE BREAD
Lightly oil the bowl with the olive oil.
Mix the dry ingredients with the whisk until blended. Add water and mix with the rubber spatula until it comes together without dry spots in the dough. IF the dough seems too dry, let the dough rest for a minute or two, then resume mixing until you have a wet, sticky dough.
Transfer the sticky dough to the oiled bowl. Cover with the plastic wrap, then top with a kitchen towel. Set aside. Let it rise for 12 to 18 hours. (This is the first rise.)
Lightly flour a cutting board or non-stick mat. Use the pastry cutter/dough scraper to transfer the dough from the bowl onto the floured surface. Using the pastry cutter, turn the dough onto itself to form it into a round ball, or "boule" shape (don't overdo the shaping, just give it a little help here). Sprinkle the top with a dusting of flour and cover loosely with the plastic wrap and then the towel. Set aside. Let it rest for 1 to 2 more hours. NOTE: To test if the dough is ready, poke with your finger and look for dents... The poked spot should remain indented and NOT spring back. If it springs back, let it rest a bit more. (This is the second rise.)
While the second rise is happening, cut the parchment paper to fit into your ceramic container. Cut it to cover the bottom and sides up to the lip of the lid. The dough will be housed/cradled in the parchment paper for baking in the ceramic pot. The paper should be completely encased in the pot when the cover is on. (Important Tip: See my demonstration in this video for this simple safety tip and the picture to the left to see how the cut paper is used.)
Set your oven racks to easily access a lower rack. Then 30 minutes before you want to put the dough into the oven (after the second rise), place your ceramic pot with the lid into the COLD oven WITHOUT the cut parchment paper. Set the temperature to heat the ceramic pot to 475 degrees F.
When the dough has completed it's second rise - remember to check for the dents - use the pastry cutter to turn it onto itself to form it into a ball shape. There is little to be done here, it kind of happens on its own if the dough is ready. Add flour or corn meal to the cut parchment paper and gently transfer the dough onto the paper. Sprinkle the top and sides with corn meal or flour. Lift the parchment paper by the edges to cradle the dough, and bring it to the oven to carefully place the dough and paper into the heated ceramic pot, cover the pot. Bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, rotate the hot pot 180 degrees, REMOVE the lid; and continue baking uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.
Remove the ceramic pot from the oven, take the bread out of the pot using the paper edges. Place the bread on a cooling rack for at least an hour before you slice it. NOTE: If you cut it too soon, it changes the inside texture of the bread.
A few final ideas about this no-knead bread recipe... It makes a great hostess gift. Gift Idea: Print out a copy of the recipe, scroll it, and tie it with a ribbon to a new ceramic baking pot. If you are bringing the bread, you could show up with a fresh loaf inside... Surprise!
You can also ramp up this basic bread recipe by adding cheese (fontina is a good choice), olives, capers, etc., during the dry ingredient mixing step. See the picture of a loaf made with sliced olives.
Best of all, make a couple of loaves at a time because it freezes very well. TIP: Slice it before you freeze it so you can defrost only what you need.
Let me know your thoughts on this recipe. Have you ever baked your own bread? I hope you'll try this recipe and let me know! ~ Luci