Basics: This is a very, very simple way of making artisan bread with chewy crusts and moist interior.
Stir, don’t knead
Use any wheat flour, white or brown Use any type salt
Don’t preheat oven
Use any oven-proof container
Eat while it’s fresh from the oven!
• 1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast OR 1/4 cup starter (starter is best) OR both
• 3 cups of white flour (regular or bread flour)
• 1.5 cups of water (if using bread flour add 1/8 cup more)
• 1.5 teaspoons salt
• Large bowl/plastic container to mix ingredients and to let rise. I use 4 quart plastic bowls
• A large sturdy rubber spatula, biggest you can get, to stir the mixture. Wooden spoons work too. So do your hands.
• A bread pan (8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5) OR a tinfoil bread pan OR a cookie sheet OR any oven proof container
• In the big bowl, mix flour, yeast and/or starter, and salt.
• Add cool water. Stir until flour is moist with the spatula or spoon. Results should be sticky, wet dough and the flour moistened. Add a touch of water if too dry. The wetter the mix, the bigger the holes in the bread. Should take about 5 minutes.
• Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a shower cap. Leave at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. (mix in the late afternoon/evening to bake the next morning) Longer is better. After the rising period the mixture will be near the top of the bowl and full of bubbles. It's very sticky.
• Spray the 8”x4” bread pan with Pam or similar. Using the spatula, scrape and pour the mixture into the baking pan. Put into a cold oven and bake at 375 degrees for 55 minutes +/-minutes. (If pre- heated oven bake for 45+/- minutes) * Your oven may be slightly different – adjust cooking time depending on the outcome.
• Remove from baking pan and put on cooling rack. Wait 15 min; slice and eat!
Storage: storing in plastic will make the crust softer. You can also just put the cut side of the loaf down and store in a breadbox without wrapping. Starter bread stays fresh longer than yeast bread. To freeze, wrap in tin foil and put in plastic bag.
Alternate baking dishes: Corning ware, cast iron dutch oven, etc. The wider the dish the shorter the loaf will be. Or just a cookie sheet. Be sure to spray with oil.
Cleanup: The mixing/rising bowl will be the hardest to clean. If you do it right away under running water you can easily scrape the sticky dough off with the rubber spatula, and finish with warm water.
Adding extras – Raisins, nuts, cereal, canned pineapple, chocolate chips, etc – about a cup Spices – such as Italian – about a tablespoon. Don’t add cinnamon – it kills the yeast.
Seeds – caraway, sunflower, anise, sesame, poppy, etc. – from a tablespoon to 1/3 cup Cheese – dry or regular – about a cup in ½ inch cubes; ½ cup if a dry cheese
Meat – cooked sausage, hamburger, corned beef, hot dogs, pepperoni, etc – cut in ½ inch pieces about a cup (store bread in refrigerator)
Liquid – substitute for water – milk, beer, soda, gravy (adjust salt as needed). Milk makes a finer texture.
Sweetener – Sugar (1 tablespoon), molasses (1/3 cup), pancake syrup (1/4 cup). Don’t use artificial sugar as it won’t bake well. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake a little longer.
Sourdough Starter – One cup water, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon yeast. Leave on counter for 2 hours, then store covered in the refrigerator. I use along with yeast. It will make the bread last longer and give it more favor. Use 1/4 cup in a batch. Feed the starter when it’s getting low with equal parts flour and water (no salt or sugar). After a feeding leave on counter for an hour or so then store in the refrigerator. If it gets a blackish liquid on top it’s still OK – just pour it off and use. If it smells bad (not just sour), throw it out and start over.
Chewy crust – Get two identical bread pans (Dollar Store) and two metal spring clips. Put dough in one pan and invert the second pan and clip together with the spring clips. This makes a steam oven and chewy crust. Take the second pan off the last ten minutes to brown the top. Set oven temp to 400 degrees.
Final Temperature – 205 +/- degrees on a thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf will ensure a done loaf. I actually go to 208 degrees for thicker crust.
• If using larger bread pan add 1 cup flour and ½ cup water and ½ teaspoon salt. Same amount of yeast or starter.
• Handle the dough with wet hands to shape and cook on a cookie sheet.
• The sliced bread won’t brown when you toast unless you add sugar or other sweetener but still tastes delicious.