Since COVID-19 displaced me from my job as a pastry chef I have spent the last several weeks baking bread from home for friends and family. It looks like "normal" life is going to start back up soon, so I am taking a breather from bread orders for now, so I wanted to share the recipe to one of the loaves I've been offering. This loaf is extremely easy to prepare and tastes like you spent hours preparing it. Only requiring a few simple ingredients, this bread is very easy on the bank account, and is sure to bring some joy to your home. Feel free to follow the written recipe below, or watch my YouTube tutorial for step by step instructions. The loaf I make in the video has Kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes added, but you can add whatever you'd like, or nothing at all!
Material to cover dough while rising (lid, damp cloth, cling wrap, etc.)
3 Cups AP flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup warm water (not hotter than 110°F)
My Favorite Additions:
-Sun dried Tomatoes & Kalamata Olives
-Rosemary & Garlic
-Italian Herbs & Garlic
Method: *If you are new to making bread, I recommend following along with my video above.
1. Gather all of your tools and ingredients.
2. In a small bowl stir together the yeast and warm water. Cover and allow the yeast to wake up.
3. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.
4. Once yeast as started to bubble and foam, pour into flour mixture. *If your yeast doesn't wake up, it may be too old and no longer active. If your water was too hot, you could have killed the yeast. Too cool and it could have kept the yeast deactivated. Try again with a different water temp if you think that was the issue, or just use new yeast.
5. Using your hands mix together the wet and dry ingredients until a ball forms. Knead for about 1 minute, just to activate the gluten. If you have a lot of dry scraps at the bottom of your bowl, discard.
6. Once your dough ball is formed, place back in the large mixing bowl and cover. If using cloth, make sure it's damp. Let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. This will depend on your kitchen ambient temperature.
7. Once your dough has risen, lightly punch it down, releasing the gas that the yeast created, and form a small ball again. Remove ball from bowl and set aside for a moment. *This is the step to add extra ingredients if using. (olives, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, etc.)
8. Line your bowl with parchment paper (NOT WAX), leaving enough excess to be able to grab the sides to transfer your dough when the time comes.
9. Put dough in parchment-lined bowl and cover again. Set it prove for about 2 minutes, or until doubled in size. **If you skip this step your loaf will be small and dense with very few air bubbles.
10. While your dough is proving, place a dutch oven into your cold oven and set the temp to 450ºF. **If you know your oven runs hot or cool, adjust temp as needed. Mine runs hot, so I do 425ºF
11. Once dough has doubled in size, carefully remove hot dutch oven from your oven and set it on the stove. Remove the lid and carefully transfer your dough from the mixing bowl into the hot dutch oven using the parchment paper excess.
12. Once dough is in the dutch oven, replace the lid and place in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes carefully remove the dutch oven lid and bake for an additional 4-6 minutes. The loaf should be a dark golden brown and crackly on top.
13. Once baking is complete carefully tap the bottom on the loaf. If it sounds hollow it's done baking. If it sounds dense, it needs more time. (See video for help.)
14. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slices. I know it'd hard, but slicing too early can make the loaf gummy. Enjoy with your favorite spreads, with soup, or on it's own!
Recipe adapted from jennycancook.com