Prep 6 hrs
Cook 40 mins
I've been using this yeast bread recipe for nearly 20 years - I think it originally came from a package of flour. I've "tweeked" it quite a bit from the original, and now this bread is great, in that it calls for no added fat (other than what you use to oil the bowl for rising); it's just flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast. Makes 2 loaves - let one get slightly stale, and it makes the best French toast ever!
- 2 cups warm water (not over 110 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 5 1⁄2-6 cups unbleached flour (plus more for kneading)
- cornmeal (for sprinkling on baking pans)
- boiling water (optional)
- Add sugar and yeast to warm water in large mixing bowl and let dissolve.
- Gradually add salt and flour to liquid and mix thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.
- Turn out onto floured surface to knead.
- Knead dough for about 3 minutes.
- Allow dough to rest about 5 minutes.
- While dough is resting, scrape mixing bowl and grease (either spray with Pam or swirl about 1 tablespoon oil up sides of bowl).
- After dough has rested, knead about 3 minutes more, until bouncy and smooth.
- Place dough in bowl and turn over once to grease top.
- Cover with damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
- Punch down.
- Let dough rise again until doubled (optional).
- Punch down and knead briefly.
- Cut dough in half and shape into 2 loaves.
- To shape into loaves: pat each half into a rectangular shape, about 8 x 12 inches.
- Roll dough tightly from short end, pinching end to seal.
- Place pinched side on bottom and fold ends under loaf to make loaf shape.
- Place loaves on baking sheet generously sprinkled with corn meal and slash tops. Let dough rest, covered, an additional 10 minutes.
- For Quick Baking: Brush loaves with cold water. Place on rack in cold oven. Bake at 400 for 35-40, until crust is golden brown and hollow to the touch.
- For Traditional Baking: For a lighter, crustier bread, let the loaves rise another 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 for 15 minutes. Pour 2-3 cups boiling water into a roasting pan and carefully place the pan on the bottom of the oven. Place bread on rack above pan and bake 20 minutes. Turn off oven and allow bread to remain for 5 more minutes.
Outstanding recipe! Easily halved. I routinely use my dough hook with my Kitchenaid Mixer for most of my breads. This was no exception. The promise of a crusty outside and tender, moist inside was delivered.
Delicious bread with easy to follow instructions. I let mine rise for 2 hours and skipped the second rise. The dough was very easy to work with and shape and then I let the loaves rise for 1 1/2 hours on the cornmeal covered baking sheet. I put the boiling water in the roasting pan in the bottom of the oven and the bread was done in 25 minutes. Smelled great while baking, looked great when it was done and tasted awesome! Definitely going to be repeating this a lot! Thanks for sharing Kris!