I’ve always been afraid of baking bread. Not quick breads of course, since they’re so easy! But there’s something about yeast… and I don’t know why. I’m slowly working up my nerves. I’ve been making my own pizza dough a little more regularly now, and I have made bread a couple of times, though they haven’t all come out as I hoped.This bread came out wonderfully though! And there are so many great things about this recipe. First of all, if you’re at all intimidated by yeast and everything it involves then this recipe is perfect. It involves no kneading, with very short rise times. And this one recipe makes 4 separate loaves, which can be stored in the frig and baked over a 2 week period. Now, whenever I want bread, I can just throw a loaf in the oven and voila I have homemade bread!
I pretty much went through one of these loaves in one day. I had some with dinner, breakfast, snack, pre-dinner snack, and dinner again! I guess I need to bake up another one so my husband will be able to try some… good thing there are three more loaves waiting to be baked in my frig!!Peasant Bread
Yield: Four 1-pound loaves
3 cups lukewarm water
1½ tablespoons instant yeast
1½ tablespoons salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
5½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal and additional flour for dusting the dough and peel
In a 4 or 5 quart bowl, mix yeast and salt with water. Mix in the flours without kneading, using your hands if need be to get the last bit of flour mixed in. Cover with plastic wrap or a light towel and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and then collapses or flattens on top, about 2 hours. After the initial rise, the dough can be used immediately or covered and refrigerated for up to 14 days.
To prepare the dough to bake, dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut the dough into 4 equal sections, each about 1-pound and the size of a grapefruit. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the edges of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball as needed. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.
As dough rests, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, and place a baking stone on the middle rack. Remember that it’s ideal to have a hot stone to bake the bread on.
Once the second rise is complete, sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, scallop, or tic-tac-toe pattern on the top, using a serrated bread knife; leave the flour in place for baking, but tap some of it off before slicing. In a cast iron pan or broiler tray, pour 1 cup of hot tap water; place in the preheated oven on a lower rack. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot baking stone. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top crust is deeply browned and very firm; smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. Remove loaf to a cooling rack. Serve while still warm, or let cool completely.
Source: Adapted from Honey & Jam via Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day