Great Bread Made Easy
Great Bread Made Easy

Close your eyes. Oops wait, you have to read this. Open them back up! But picture it: Homemade bread. Now imagine it. The smell. The taste. What’s that image doing to your taste buds, stomach, soul? If you’re like most of us, you’re probably wrapped in a warm and toasty feeling, complete with a watering mouth. After all, great homemade bread is the ultimate comfort food. It’s also one the most basic of foods, going back thousands of years. So why is it that it’s also one of the most intimidating to make? Well, it’s the whole “kneading” and “rising” bit. We know, it’s scary. But it doesn’t have to be. You just need a good set of tools – measurements are key, as well as a few basic recipes – which we’re about to share. Good luck, enjoy, and if you have your own basic bread recipes, please share below!

The No-Knead Bread

This famously easy recipe revolutionized homemade bread. Originally published in the New York Times in 2006, it was adapted from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery.

Time: About 1 1/2; hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and 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 room temperature, about 70 degrees.

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

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1 1/2 pound loaf.

original recipe can be found here.

Basic White Loaf

This recipe will make two loaves of bread, so either cut the recipe in half or bring the extra to your best friend or coworkers (we highly recommend the latter!)

24-27 fluid ounces filtered water
1 oz salt
1 oz sugar
1 oz yeast
3lbs flour (plain)

Use either 2 loaf pans measuring 8.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.5″ or two 7.5″ round cake pans.

Start by heating the water. After a few minutes (before it boils), add the salt and sugar. Dissolve. Cream the yeast with a little of the liquid and then mix with the rest of it.

The water will be hot, so carefully add the flour into a large bowl and then add enough liquid to make an easily workable dough. (The flour will help to cool the water). This must be kneaded well, so do so for a couple of minutes.

Leave it to rise (the dough should double in size) in a warm place for approximately two hours.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Grease the pans and then turn your dough out on to a floured board and knead it thoroughly again. Divide it into two and put each piece into one of the pans to rise
again for about twenty minutes.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes until the bread is well browned, and then turn it out of the pans to cool, preferably onto a cooling rack. Serve once completely cooled.

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