Makes two 14-ounce loaves
Bread don’t get more basic than this. The easiest way to make it is in a food processor with a 2-quart capacity. If you have a smaller workbowl, halve dough recipe, or make it in a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment.
1 package dry-active yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
4 cups bread or all-purpose unbleached flour (I like a combination of 2 1/2 cups bread flour and 1 1/2 cups wheat, as well)
1-2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or semolina for coating the baking pan
Sprinkle yeast over warm water let stand until yeast dissolves and starts to swell, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix flour and salt in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pour yeast and water mixture into dry ingredients. Process this mixture until it forms a rough ball. (Add a tablespoon or so of flour if the dough is excessively wet and sticky. Add a tablespoon or so of water if dough feels hard and dry.)
Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand for a few seconds to ensure that the dough is satiny and smooth. Form dough into a ball and put it in a large bowl that’s been coated with vegetable oil spray or a very light film of oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until the dough doubles, anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on room temperature. (This is where you get to take a nap, read a book, or watch TV!)
Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured work surface. If you are making loaves, halve dough and shape into rounds or baguettes. If you’re making rolls, divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each one.
Transfer shaped dough, seam side down, to a cornmeal-coated baking sheet (I don’t have a fancy pizza stone, and I think the sheet pan works fine.) Cover shapes with a barely damp kitchen towel and let the dough shapes rise until almost doubled in size, another 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.
When ready to bake, move a rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Make a few long, deep (about a 1/2 inch) slashes on your loaves, or one big one on each roll.
As you slide the pan into the oven (carefully!) toss about 3/4 cup water onto oven floor and quickly close oven door. Bake until crust is brown and crispy, about 25-30 minutes. Cool bread on a wire rack.
(Can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for a few days. Wrapped loaves can be placed in a zipper-lock bag and frozen up to 1 month.)
Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says
I love to bake bread. I find it relaxing to knead the dough, exciting to wait for it to rise, and delicious to indulge in.
Right now I’m on a sourdough kick!
Jenny Flake says
There’s nothing better than fresh bread! This looks great!
You can’t beat homemade bread!
There’s really nothing better than homemade bread. Everyone needs a great basic bread recipe!
I’m so excited to try this recipe! I’m a newbie to bread baking and have been looking for an easy method…this looks like a winner.
From start to finish homemade bread is the best!
Bob M says
What weight is your cup of flour? I use a scale. After seeing America’s test kitchen test that a cup can weight between 4oz. to 6oz.!
Jen @ How To: Simplify says
Homemade bread is so delicious! What a great recipe!
Cookin' Canuck says
This looks like such tender (and easy!) bread. Now that I’m finally over my irrational fear of yeast, I’ll give these a try.
I was jogging yesterday and happened upon a pizza place — the smell of that bread baking was intoxicating — I stopped right there and thought — is there a better smell than bread baking in the oven? Well, maybe it’s right up there with coffee!! Thanks for the great recipe, Sharon.
The cool thing about measuring flour for bread is that if you’re a little off, it doesn’t really matter. If the dough’s a little stiff, just add a little more water. If it’s sticky, just add a little more flour.
When we three cooks measure, we fluff up the flour a little, then do dip and sweep.
Hope this helps.
Fuji Mama says
Great post! One of the things I love doing most is making homemade bread. Nothing beats the smell or taste! This looks like a fantastic recipe!
I love baking bread, and have barely touched store-bought bread in the past months. I’m going to have to add the recipe to my arsenal!