Today I thought I would share with you our family's favorite bread recipe. In our house, bread is mostly eaten as a "vehicle for honey." Although we do eat our share of sandwiches and like to dip crusty bread in soup, we usually just toast our bread and smother it with butter and honey.
I am proud to say I have not bought a loaf of bread from the store yet this year, as I have simply made bread making a part of my weekly routine. I like to make 2 loaves at a time so I can stick one in the freezer, and have one fresh. This recipe is not the healthiest of all bread recipes since it is made with white flour, but it is super simple and easily can be adjusted with other flours. I have been substituting whole wheat flour and have had good results, although it doesn't rise quite as much. Any expert bread bakers want to lend a hand to tell me what I can do to make it rise better? Please feel free to leave me a comment!
This recipe comes courtesy of my mother-in-law, who clipped it from the recipe section of the Columbus Dispatch.
Easy Crusty Bread
start to finish: 3 hours (20 mins active)
Makes 1 loaf
1 1/2 cups slightly warm water
1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp instant yeast
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt (original recipe called for 2 but I thought it was too salty)
Cornmeal, for dusting
In a large bowl, combine the water, whole-wheat flour, sugar, yeast, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Stir until smooth. Let stand until doubled in size and bubbly, about 60 minutes.
Add the rest of the flour and the salt and knead in a bowl until smooth. The dough will be very sticky. Cover and let rest for 15 mins. Fold the dough over on itself. Repeat the rest and fold process 5 more times. The dough should become very elastic and stretchy with big bubbles of air. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with cornmeal. (I just give it a generous sprinkling of cornmeal).
Using floured hands, place the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Allow to rest 15 minutes. Spritz the loaf with water, then bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Transfer to a rack to cool.
What I love most about this bread is that it is crusty, yet not too dense. In the summer when we are regularly at farmers markets, I often trade honey or soap for bread with Lucky Cat Bakery. Their bread is amazing! When the farmers markets were over in November, I was determined not to go back to the fluffy tasteless store-bought bread, so I began researching bread making by reading Healthy Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. This book is very helpful in learning how to make these crusty loaves, rather than traditional bread-pan loaves.
As you can see by the above picture, it is very hard to explain to a 3 year old why they can't eat a piece of bread yet because Mommy has to take a picture for the blog...