I hate following recipes, but when I stumbled upon this super easy recipe from Steamy Kitchen, I decided to try making bread at home. I was really skeptical but ended up being pleasantly surprised (alright ecstatic) with the results. It is so so easy, saves us some money and you can add almost anything (artichoke hearts, olives, spices, etc, etc) to switch things up every loaf.
Step One: Put 3 cups of bread flour into a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt.
Step Two: In a measuring cup, add 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast to 1 1/2 cups of luke warm water. Stir until yeast is incorporated. Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until it is a fairly consistent goopy mess.
* For this loaf, I also added chopped rosemary and ground black pepper – yum!
Step Three: Cover and let sit in a cool place for 8-12 hours. I usually let mine hang out over night. It should almost double in size and become an even goopier, frothy mess (below).
Step Four: Cover a cutting board (or other surface) with flour and wet hands. Remove dough from its bowl and plop it onto floured surface. Fold the ends of the dough blob under to create a nice loaf.
Step Five: Move loaf to flour covered towel and place into a tall bowl (the taller the better), bringing the towel over to cover the top. Let sit for 2+ hours.
Step Six: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. A half hour before you are going to start baking, add the pot to the oven.
Important: The pot you choose needs to be able to withstand the very hot oven (read no plastic handles, cheapo pots) – I use a big cast iron pot we got for our wedding, but you can use other hearty pots as well.
Step Seven: Plop the doughy loaf into the hot pot. Cook, covered for 30 minutes.
Step Eight: Remove the cover and return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes. You will know the bread is done with you tap it on the top and it sounds hollow. Once done, remove the bread from the oven and let cool.