Posted in food, home cooking at 3:45 am by wingerz


Bread doesn’t get any simpler than this*. I don’t even need to look it up in the recipe book. When I’m working from home I’ll sometimes bake a loaf and snack on it throughout the day – plain when it’s a few hours old, lightly toasted with jam or cheese or butter/cinnamon/sugar the next morning. Fantastic stuff, and a real crowd-pleaser, especially since most people think that fresh bread is a labor-intensive ordeal.

3 cups lukewarm (105 deg F) water (colder is better than warmer because too warm will kill the yeast, too cold will just take longer to rise)
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached flower (32.5 oz)

In a large, non-airtight container, mix water, yeast, and salt together. Using your hands or some other strong mixing tool (I use a wooden spatula), mix the flour in until the dough is nearly uniform (you may need to use your hands to incorporate stubborn bits of flour). Cover (not-airtight) and let sit at room temperature for two hours. Put it into the fridge for up to 14 days.

When you’re ready to bake, sprinkle some flour onto the surface of the dough. The first few times you do this, lightly flour a work surface and your hands (do it enough times and eventually you won’t need a large work surface anymore). Prep your peel by putting some cornmeal onto it. Grab a grapefruit-sized chunk of dough. Hold it in both hands, and use your fingertips to push the middle of the dough up while rotating the dough so that you start to get a nice dome shape. If the dough starts to stick to you, get a little bit more flour, but try not to use too much. Put the dough on the peel and let it sit for 40 minutes to rise.

About 20 minutes before baking, Set up your baking stone and an empty broiler tray. Heat the oven to 450 deg F. Right before baking, dust the top of the bread with flour and use a serrated bread knife to cut 1/4 inch slashes through the surface of the dough (cross, tic-tac-toe, whatever you like). Slide the bread onto the stone and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray (Mark Bittman recommends a cast iron pan full of rocks, but I’ll have to try that some other time) and quickly close the door to trap the steam. Take a look at the bread in about 30 minutes, it should be golden brown. I’ve never managed to “overcook” the bread yet, but I’ve been experimenting with leaving it in for a few more minutes to get an even deeper brown crust.

Take the bread out and put it on a wire cooling rack. Resist the urge to cut and serve it hot.

As mentioned before, one variation is to swap out 1/4 cup of water for 1/4 cup of olive oil. Another one is to swap in 1 cup of whole wheat flower for 1 cup of white flour. I’ve also been following the advice to keep mixing new batches of dough in the same container without washing to develop interesting sourdough flavors. I’m all for doing fewer dishes in the name of good food.

*It does help a lot to have the right equipment – kitchen scale, baking stone and peel.


  1. Jen said,

    December 11, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    So how essential do you find the peel to be? I want to make this but I don’t see myself buying one.

  2. wingerz said,

    December 11, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    As long as you’ve got some way of sliding it into the oven from its resting place, you should be fine. You can remove the bread from the oven pretty easily because it will be quite hard when it’s done, and it doesn’t stick to the stone.

  3. Jen said,

    December 12, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Oh man yet another thing I don’t have. A stone. I think I can borrow one from my parents at least

  4. JenJordi.org » Blog Archive » Boule! said,

    December 18, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    […] friend Wing posted about how to make an ‘easy’ loaf of homemade bread on his blog so I thought I’d give it a try this weekend. I bought the yeast and all. I didn’t have […]

  5. ~wingerz » Food resolutions for 2011 said,

    January 3, 2011 at 3:17 am

    […] year I’d like to: Eat more whole grains and vegetables. Going to have to wean myself off of white bread. Try more new recipes. I’ve been kind of stuck in a rut where I make the same dozen things […]

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