Why have we not done this before? We don’t buy grocery store cookies or cakes (with the exception of peanut butter pie from Wegmans), so why have we settled for bagged, preserved bread for so long?
Thank you, Mark Bittman, for providing a simple recipe to follow in our first attempt at homemade bread.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- Cornmeal as needed
- In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest 12-18 hours, at room temperature.
- Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
- Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with cornmeal (or flour); put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more cornmeal (or flour). Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double its original size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
- At least 30 minutes before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up. (It will look messy, but that’s okay.) Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15-30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
(Adapted from Mark Bittman)