Easiest Crusty White Bread (Mother Earth News)

READY IN: 1hr 5mins




  • Starting the night before (or early morning if you want to bake for the evening), in a large mixing bowl use your hands to mix the flour, yeast, salt and enough water to form a soft and sticky dough. You may have to add more water depending on a variety of factors, including the type of flour you use. Do not knead, but cover and let the dough rise at room temperature. When you get up in the morning, or a while before baking in the evening, wet your hands and lift the dough onto a flate, wet surface. Gently stretch it and fold it 2 to 4 times -- that's it. Return it ot the same bowl, cover and let it rise until doubled in size. This will take about an hour or so. If it is cool in the room, put the dough in a warmer area to do this final rise. At this time, find a bowl that will accommodate double the size of the risen dough and line it with a cotton or linen towel dusted with flour. Turn the risen dough (should have doubled by now) out with wet hands and again, fold it over itself about four times. (Personally, I skip this aforementioned step and the bread is wonderful.) Turn into the towel-lined bowl and let rise for one to four hours, depending on the room temperature. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Farenheit. Once the dough is doubled, turn onto a well-floured peel or stiff cardboard. Ideally you will bake this on a pre-heated pizza stone or heavy baking sheet. Use the peel or cardboard to transfer the dough onto the baking surface. Bake until the crust if golden brown which may take 60 to 75 minutes. The magazine calls for the bread to cool for two hours, bottom up, but you can enjoy it minutes out of the oven.