This simple bread recipe is perfect for beginners and professionals alike; once you realize how easy it is to bake delicious, rustic bread at home, you'll never go back to store-bought loaves!
what you'll need:
6-8 quart heavy covered pot (dutch oven/enamel/pyrex/ceramic bowl)
3 cups bread flour (approx. 1lb) + extra flour for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (tips for testing your yeast for freshness)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 5/8 cups water
optional add-ins: dried fruit, nuts, oats, etc.
1 1/2 pound loaf
1 - in a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, and water and stir until dough is thick and sticky.
cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 12 (12-20) hours at room temperature.
2 - after resting, the dough is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
lightly flour a work surface and fold the dough over on itself a few times (add in fruit or nuts during this step).
after folding, place your dough ball in a well-floured (to prevent sticking) proofing bowl, cover with towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3 - while dough is rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place your dutch oven/covered pot on the rack while the oven heats.
4 - to remove to dough from the proofing bowl, cover the top with a square of parchment paper and flip upside down (the dough should be cradled in the parchment).
optional: with a knife, score the dough (firmly and quickly) for fun patterns and designs in your loaf!
remove the dutch oven/covered pot from the heated oven and place the parchment and the dough inside (this step is easier with two people!); don't worry if your dough looks lopsided, it will even out during baking.
cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes. after 30 minutes, remove the lid from your pot and continue to bake your bread inside the pot for another 15 to 30 minutes (until the loaf is browned to perfection).
5 - cool on rack for 20 minutes and enjoy!
(the cooling time is crucial for locking in flavor and moisture, it may be tempting to cut into your bread right away, but patience is key!)
warning: this bread is addicting