I am always in search of the easiest way to create healthful, delicious foods. Call me lazy, but I believe there is always a quick, simple way to have homemade foods without a lot of fuss. I also like the idea that homemade means limiting preservatives and other questionable ingredients now found in so many prepared foods, including bread. That’s why I was so happy to come across this recipe by Desiree Campbell, which I adapted by adding a little bit of whole wheat flour for its nutty flavor.
One thing about me and bread. I have always been a baker. Ever since I was a little girl when my Japanese mother learned over the years how to make American food, the one sensory memory that stands out above the rest is the aroma of bread baking in the oven. My mom would slice into still-warm loaves, slather them with butter, and hand out fat, buttery slabs of deliciousness.
Back then, specialty flour wasn’t a thing. All-purpose flour was pretty much the only thing available, especially for a family like ours whose groceries came exclusively from the on-post Commissary. For those non-army brats, that is the word my folks used for the grocery store on the military base where we lived. Anyhow, all-purpose flour does not produce soft, airy-almost-marshmallow-textured sandwich bread. My mom was always disappointed by this. She believed that if she put in all that effort to bake homemade bread, she wanted it to be exactly Wonder-ish. Sorry, Mom, but I disagree! Homemade bread – any homemade bread – is heavenly to me.
The problem is that who has time to make homemade bread every day? Not me! However, I do love to have hot, crusty bread coming out of the oven right at dinnertime. That is why this is the ideal everyday bread for my family. I stir it up (that’s right-STIR), leave it sit for 8 hours, then shape and bake it. Even shaping it is a snap. Basically, you fold it then gently pat and turn it until it is round. No kneading or working in more flour. Simple. I usually stir it together by 9 am and by 6pm, have hot bread fresh out of the oven.
- Stir the ingredients together into a sticky, shaggy dough, then let it rest for 8 hours.
- Shape the dough and place it onto parchment paper.
- While the dough rests, place a dutch oven into the oven and preheat it and the oven to 450 degrees. (Do not put a cold dutch oven into a hot oven.) I use a Le Creuset, but there are lots of great brands. Emile Henry makes a cloche bread baker that I have been lusting after lately, but let’s not get off-track.
- After resting the dough and preheating the oven and dutch oven for 30 minutes, place the bread and parchment into the dutch oven. Cover it and bake. The dutch oven creates steam, which simulates how commercial bakers create crisp bread crust.
I promise you will be amazed if you try it. The bread comes out crusty and hole-y just like one would expect. I love that it is heavier than packaged bread from the grocery store. This bread is the perfect accompaniment for simple salads or soups, or to round off a full, formal meal.
Let me know your thoughts on this (perfect) bread recipe! I want to hear from you!
- 2-3/4 to 3 cups bread flour
- ¼ cup wheat flour
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp dry active yeast (I use Rapid-Rise)
- 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water (around 115 degrees)
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine 2¾ cups flour, ¼ cup wheat flour, salt, yeast & water then mix with a spoon until fully combined. I use a plastic rice (or gohan) paddle.
- Place plastic wrap over the top of the dough (touching the dough- not just covering the bowl).
- Set aside in a warm, dark place to rest at least 8 hours (up to about 24 hours).
- Using an oiled bowl scraper, remove dough from bowl & place on a well-floured surface. Gently stretch into a rectangle and fold the two short ends over as you would a business letter. Repeat in the opposite direction then gently work into a ball while maintaining interior bubbles. Dough will be sticky, but this allows for lots of big, yummy holes.
- Place onto a large piece of parchment paper and allow to rest approx 30 minutes while heating the oven and dutch oven.
- Place cast iron dutch oven with lid in oven & preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Carefully remove after 30 minutes & place dough and parchment into pot then slash the top. I use a razor blade in an X-shape.
- Cover & bake 30 minutes.
- Remove lid & bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden & brown.
- You know it's done if it sounds hollow when tapped.
- Cool slightly before serving.