Thursday, December 23, 2010

Easy Homemade Bread Recipe- No Kneading Required!

I am a sucker for homemade fresh baked bread. My Aunt Silvia discovered this recipe in a magazine and it is now a family favorite. Enjoy!!

Notes From the Chef: Make sure the water is warm - if it's cold it will still rise, but it will take a significantly longer time to rise. I use a perforated bread sheet designed specifically for bread connoisseurs like myself, but you can substitute a classic baking sheet. You can make one large loaf or divide the dough to make small loaves. The most important part of this recipe are the baking instructions below- pay attention to make sure the oven is very hot and make sure you create steam in the oven so that your bread comes out crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Delicious!

Time: about 1½ hours, plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising time

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1-5/8 cups water
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1-1/4 tsp salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

In large bowl combine flour, yeast, salt. Add 1-5/8 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours (preferably about 18), at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour work surface; place dough on it. Sprinkle with a little more flour, and fold dough over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into ball. Generously coat cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; put dough on towel, seam-side down. Dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. (One day I was out of all of these and used classic bread crumbs- it worked perfectly!) Cover with another cotton towel; let rise for about 2 hours. When ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with finger.

Baking Instructions: Place an empty ceramic bowl or pan in the bottom of the oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is very hot place the bread in the middle rack on a bread pan or baking sheet. Add 3 cups of water to the hot pan in the bottom of the oven. This will create steam and will make your bread crunchy on the outside.

Bon Appetite!

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