If you are like me, you like bread. No, let me rephrase. You love bread. All bread in all its forms. And if you're like me, homemade breads ring your bell. Well, the only problem with that is that homemade bread takes a lot of work. Or it did, until this recipe came along! (If you want to see the original, go here.)
Ingredients: 3 cups lukewarm water, 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting yeast (2 packets), 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt, 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all purpose white flour
Directions: Warm up the water to 100 degrees. Add yeast and salt to the water and put it in a 5 quart container that has a lid. Mix in the flour all at once. With a wooden spoon. It's done being mixed when everything is uniformly moist. The dough will be wet and loose and this should take like 90 seconds. Put the lid on the container but don't seal it. A tiny bit of air circulation will help the dough rise. Allow the mix to rise at room temperature until the dough begins to collapse, about 2 hours. If you let it rise longer it won't hurt the dough, so no worries. Then put the dough in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. Put a piece of parchment paper down. Divide your dough into 1 pound pieces (about the size of a grapefruit). Your mix should make about 4 loaves. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go. Put flour on your hands if it gets too sticky. The top of the dough should be smooth and tight. Put the dough on the parchment paper. Let the loaves rise for 30-40 minutes. Preheat a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven for at least 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Put a container on the bottom rack with water in it. This will help keep the dough moist and beautiful and amazing. (If you don't have a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet, but you will not get the crisp crust on the bottom. You will still have a great loaf of bread.) Dust the loaf with a little flour and slit the top of the loaves with a knife. This helps the loaves "bloom" in the oven. Bake at 450 F for about 30 - 35 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf. Make sure the crust is a deep golden brown. When you remove the loaf from the oven, you will hear it crackle for a while. In baking terms, this is called "sing" and it is exactly what you want. Allow the bread to cool for the best flavor and texture. It's tempting to eat it when it's warm, and that's fine, but the texture is better after the bread has cooled. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (with a hole punched in the top) container and use for up to 14 days. Every day your bread will improve in flavor. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. When your dough is gone, don't clean the container. Go ahead and mix another batch - the remaining bits of dough will contribute flavor to the next batch, much like a sourdough starter does! Bread is best eaten the day it is baked. Leftover baked bread is best stored at room temperature, unwrapped. Simply place the cut side of the bread on plate or counter. If your bread is gummy on the inside, try either increasing the amount of flour by 1/4 cup and/or increasing the baking time by 5-10 minutes.