Making homemade bread is easy. And if my friend Marissa at rae gun ramblings hadn’t told me so and showed me the way, I’d still be missing out. Making bread does require a few steps, but once you get into the routine of making bread, it’s just something you do. I even have the recipe posted to our fridge permanently.
Here is the recipe and instructions for making rustic peasant bread. If I can make this, anybody can make this. It’s made with unbleached white flour. You can substitute other flours, but I’d stick to this recipe first before you experiment. I once substituted 1 cup of whole wheat flour, and it tasted like the whole thing was whole wheat.
- 3 cups of lukewarm water
- 6.5 cups of unbleached white flour
- 1.5 TB of yeast (the rapid rise stuff)
- 1.5 TB salt
- 1 cup of water
- Pie pan
- Pam cooking spray
- Bowl #1: Plastic bowl or bucket (about the size of a large salad bowl; see photos for an idea).
- Bowl #2: Bowl that will fill 6.5 cups of flour.
- Wooden spoon
Making your dough:
In bowl #2, measure 6.5 cups of flour. Set aside
In bowl #1, measure 3 cups of lukewarm water.
Add yeast and salt into water and stir until almost dissolved.
Add in flour and stir until all flour is wet (scrape those sides!). You may or may not want to get your hands involved. I just use a wooden spoon and my strong muscles.
You dough should look like this.
Cover the bowl really well with plastic wrap (or Press n’ Seal).
Poke a hole with a knife to let some air out.
Let this sit for at least 2 hours in the warmest place in your house. Your dough will now rise! You can let it sit for longer; this isn’t a big deal. If it’s been 4 hours, and you forgot about it, don’t panic. I have found that 2 hours is pretty ideal though, and it won’t really rise any more after that anyway (at this stage).
After 2 hours, uncover the bowl, and spray your hands with Pam. Divide your dough into four grapefruit-sized balls. You don’t have to knead or anything; just form them into balls. Wrap each ball into Pam-sprayed plastic wrap.
Put the balls in ziplock bags and stick them in the fridge. The dough will continue to rise a bit in the fridge. Now you have dough for the week! If you think you have more dough than you need, put some of the balls in the freezer, but I would let them rise a bit more in the fridge before you do this.
Cooking your bread:
Have a non-stick pan ready.
Take your dough out of the fridge, spray you hands with Pam, and form it into whatever shape you want your bread to be in. Lately I’ve been making buns (fist size), but I’ve also made a baguette before and a round loaf.
Let it sit for 40 minutes. Yep, it’ll rise a bit more. If you’re thinking, “really, it needs to rise again??” Fear not, you can skip this step, but your bread won’t be as fluffy and airy.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Put 1 cup of water in the pie pan and put pan into over at lower level. This adds humidity to your oven, which helps make the bread crusty.
Optional step: spray your bread with Pam, cut slits into them, and add some crushed salt.
Once the oven is ready, stick your bread in. Depending on what you’re making, here’s the times that have worked for me:
- Buns (fist size) = 20 minutes [photo above is from two of the grapefruit-size balls]
- Baguette = 25 minutes
- Round loaf = 30 minutes
Ovens do vary! Watch your bread. Essentially you want it to brown a little on the top and bottom, and that’s it. Touch your bread. If it feels hard (no resistance), has some brown on the top and some brown on the bottom, your bread is done! If it overbrowns, then you have overbrown homemade bread, which is still pretty awesome.
Cool your bread on a baking rack for 20 minutes or so, and then it’s ready to serve!
Eat your bread.