so, you want to know the real secret to winning friends and influencing people? bake them bread. it never fails. my sister shared this no-knead (super easy/simple/fun) bread recipe with me a while back, and i've been enjoying homemade, fresh baked, yummy bread ever since. so, i guess the cat's out of the bag. i can no longer impress people with my super refined bread baking skills once they read how easy it is...
...oh well. it's totally worth it. fresh baked bread for all! (this recipe makes 3-4 boules)
3 cups warm water
1 tbsp yeast
1/2 tbsp salt
6 1/2 cups flour
1 large bowl - that will allow dough to quadruple in size
clean dish cloth
mix yeast and warm water. add salt. add flour. mix with wooden spoon until dough forms a loose ball. do not to over mix.
leave dough in bowl and cover bowl with dish cloth. allow to rise for 2 hours. dough will quadruple in size.
at this point, you have a few options. you can cover dough/bowl with plastic wrap and foil and refrigerate for a few hours (or up to 3 days). i recommend this because cool dough is much easier to handle. or you can freeze the dough (for months). or you can bake it immediately. or a combo of all three : )
whichever you choose, when baking time comes, flour your hands and work surface and take approx. 1/4 of the dough and form a boule (i.e. round loaf) by folding dough in on itself, so the top is round and smooth and all "loose ends" are tucked under loaf. (tip: when forming boules, it's a great time experiment with add-ins. my personal faves are homemade pesto, asiago cheese or pecans, cinnamon and sugar. to evenly distribute, flatten dough and spread fillings over it. then fold dough in half. then in half again. then form boule by tucking ends under loaf to form a sphere. yum!)
place the boule on an oiled baking sheet (sprinkled with cornmeal if you have it) and allow to rise, uncovered, for 40-60 minutes. before baking, cut a slash or two across top of dough to allow air to escape during baking.
then bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes. when dough is golden brown and smells intoxicating, it's done.
(if you're going to use the dough to make a pizza crust - which i highly recommend - you can skip the "second rise". just take dough out of fridge, flatten it, top with sauce, cheese, veggies, amazingness, etc. and bake at 425 for 25 minutes or so and enjoy : )
once people sample your fresh baked bread, you'll have more friends (and allies) than you'll know what to do with.
happy weekend! hope it includes the smell of homemade bread - mine will : ).