I’ve been on a bread making kick ever since I watched Cooked on Netflix. (As I said in my previous post on bread, close your laptop and go watch it. Right. Now.) My strategy is to perfect my skills using no knead recipes, and then advance to making my own sourdough starter. Little did I know that no knead recipes are SO EASY. And taste SO GOOD. I’ve only tried one recipe and it was so tasty, that I haven’t branched out and have probably made about 7 of the same loaves of bread. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
I’ve been using the Easy White Bread recipe from this book I picked up from the library a month or so ago. It is just as described – easy and white. Only three ingredients, and not much work other than putting the ingredients into my Kitchen aid, turning on the Kitchen aid, waiting, putting the dough in a towel, waiting, turning on the oven, putting the dough in the oven, and taking the bread out of the oven. I’m home most afternoons anyway since both the boys still nap, so I can start it after lunch and have fresh baked bread ready for dinner.
The best is pan toasting it (because we don’t have a toaster for some reason…) with butter and then drizzling a bit honey on it, paired with a cup of coffee in the morning. This bread is also amazing slathered with goat cheese or dunked into any soup (most recently this one for us.)
This recipe is so fool proof, as long as you can measure ingredients, you can’t really go wrong. It calls for bread flour, which I didn’t have the first time around, so regular all-purpose flour was used. It was still delicious. I did add some whole wheat flour in one loaf, and it came out drier than loaves using all white flour. This may have been due to a longer baking time, I don’t know.
An added bonus – this recipe also makes incredible pizza dough. (Use the sauce recipe from here, it is to die for and also so easy.) I generally use half the dough for a pizza, then the other half for a small loaf. I’m not sure if you can freeze the dough, but it can be refrigerated for a couple days.
Since I’ve had so much success with this one recipe, I thought I’d pass it along. I’ll start branching out eventually, but for now, we’re all happy with this simple loaf.
Ingredients (yep, that’s it. Compare with the ingredients list on a loaf of bread from the grocery store…):
-3 cups white bread flour
-2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
-1 ½ Cup water
-2 teaspoons salt
1. Add all that into your KitchenAid (or other) stand mixer and mix for 10 minutes (I use the stir or 2 speed). The dough will be super sticky. In fact, I thought I had ruined the batch I was making to take pictures of. It was more wet and loose than previous attempts, but the final product still turned out amazing. So, don’t be deterred! The book also gives instructions for how to mix the ingredients by hand, which requires more hands on (no pun intended) time.
2. After you’re done mixing, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 90 minutes or so. The dough will roughly double in size. (See bad iPhone pic below.)
3. Find a towel to wrap the dough in for a second rise. I use a standard kitchen towel, not one that is fluffier like a bath towel. You don’t want little bits of dough to get stuck in the towel fibers. Liberally flour the towel. You’ll see in the picture below how much flour I put on my towel.
4. Flour hands and scrape dough out of the bowel, set it on your floured towel. It will be sticky, but don’t worry, it’s supposed to be. Don’t be tempted to knead it at all. Just sprinkle a bit more flour on top and stretch it into a square shape. Fold two sides into the middle, then fold the top and bottom sides to the middle to make a little packet. Flip it seam side down on your towel and wrap it up. Leave it out on the counter for another hour-ish. The dough will rise a bit more during this time.
5. Preheat your oven to 475 about 30 minutes before you want to bake your dough. If you have a pizza stone, stick that in there to preheat as well. (Warning, my pizza stone smokes like a chimney in a super hot oven, so be prepared to ventilate your kitchen if yours does, too. Also, I was worried my first loaf would taste like rancid, burnt olive oil because of the smoke, but it didn’t. Hopefully yours won’t either.)
6. The book says to let your oven sit at 475 for at least 30 minutes before you put in the dough, but I’ve never actually done that. Throw your dough on the pizza stone (or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper) once your oven is hot and turn the temp down to 450.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Don’t worry too much about an exact baking time – you’ll know it’s done when your loaf is a beautiful golden brown.
8. Take it out of the oven and set it on a rack to cool for a bit. You won’t be able to wait very long.
9. Pull yourself off a chunk and slather it with lots of butter. You’re welcome.
For Easter, I made baguettes using essentially the same recipe and let it rise overnight. The longer rise means you need less yeast. So if you want to let your bread rise overnight, decrease to 1/2 teaspoon of yeast and bake it in the morning. The flavor was actually slightly more amazing with the longer proof time.
So, pull out your KitchenAid and start making some bread. If you don’t tell your friends how easy it is, they will be blown away by your sudden domestic goddess status. All mine are.
What do you think? Let me know if you try this and how much it changes your life. Have you tried making your own bread? Any favorite recipes you want to share? I have a couple more recipes on my list to try out, if I can convince myself to branch out from this winner of a recipe!