I'm a little late to the trend, but if you're like me and didn't get on the sourdough bandwagon in lockdown, join me now! Let's bake some bread.
Baking bread can be as complicated as you let it be. I, like many, am gluten intolerant and one day wish to get into sourdough and fancy flavored loaves (sourdough bread is technically fermented and can be much easier to digest than yeast breads) but for now, this bread recipe works! It's super simple and still WAY healthier than any bread you purchase from the grocery store. I just eat a little less of it. You're also saving a whole ton of plastic packaging from becoming micro plastics in the ocean!
Making healthy choices and changes in your lifestyle can be hard and overwhelming. I think taking baby steps and sticking with them until those changes are part of your normal routine works best. I have committed to no longer buying bread from the store so this quick, simple bread recipe is a life saver! Even though this is a yeast risen white bread, it's only 4 ingredients, EXTREMELY cost effective, and free of all of the nasty additives in store bought bread. And the best part... it is DELICIOUS!!!
Let's take a look at our ingredients.
Use bread flour if you want. Organic if you can swing it. All-purpose works just fine if that's all you have. Seriously, this recipe isn't picky!
I mean, is that really even an ingredient?? Just make sure when you add the water it is nice and warm. Warm water activates all the little yeast babies like a soothing wake up call in the morning. Not too hot or you'll have a yeasty massacre on your hands. If you want to get technical, you want to aim for about 110 degrees. It should feel like a mildly uncomfortable Jacuzzi.
Yeast is the star of the show here. The unpaid intern that keeps everything moving. I like to keep a little jar of Active Dry Yeast in my fridge so it's handy whenever I need it. It also comes in individual packets, but I like to avoid the unnecessary waste. Also, not complaining about the cute little jar just waiting to be up-cycled when the yeast runs out! #notahoarder
Again guys, this recipe is not picky. Use whatever salt you have. If you're like me and building up your homestead pantry, salt is the first thing I bought in bulk. Between seasoning and preserving you go through SO much salt in a from-scratch kitchen. Before you run out of the salt you're currently using, look into Redmond Real Salt. It is seriously the best salt I have ever tasted. It is mined in the U.S. and full of trace minerals. It's essentially the Himalayan pink Salt of Utah. Here's some quick info from their website:
Real Salt comes from a pristine, underground salt deposit in Utah left behind by an ancient sea.
The Real Salt deposit is naturally protected from pollutants and contains 60+ trace minerals.
Real Salt and Himalayan salt are similar, but Himalayan salt is mined in Pakistan.
Real Salt is sustainably mined with an awareness of environmental impact and ethical labor practices.
Most grocery stores sell small shakers and I would recommend starting with that to try the salt. I'm sure you will be hooked after trying it, so mosey on over to their website and order in bulk to refill your shaker. REDMOND BULK SALT
OTHER THINGS YOU'LL NEED
Baking Vessel: A cast iron dutch oven is the best way to go here. The heavy weighted pan will retain the heat you need for a beautiful, golden crust and it has a nice, tight fitting lid to hold humidity in the first phase of baking. These can be really expensive, or decently affordable, but in my experience you get what you pay for here. If you're looking to purchase one, I'd recommend searching for one of the high-end brands like Staub or Le Creuset second hand at your local thrift store or online reseller markets like FaceBook Marketplace or Craigslist. Make sure to use common sense and basic street smarts. Stay safe, avoid scams, and do your due diligence if you go the second hand route. If you don't have, or don't wish to purchase a dutch oven, don't despair! You can get creative here. I have successfully made this loaf on a regular cast iron pan with my Instantpot insert upside down as a lid! Just make sure whatever you are using is oven safe, at least 8 inches wide, and has a decent seal to it.
Mixing bowl and Spoon or Stand Mixer
Wire Cooling Rack
Unbelievably Easy Bread Recipe
yields 1 loaf of bread
3c flour (bread or all-purpose)
2 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4c warm water
Add all of the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir. Add in water and mix until well incorporated. Make sure the water is very warm (about 110 degrees) to activate the yeast, but not hot or boiling as that could kill it.
Loosely cover your bowl of dough and set in a room temp or relatively warm place to rise until doubled in size (about 2 hours.) The warmer it is, the faster it will rise.
After your dough has risen, place your baking vessel in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
Flour your hands well, reach down the side of the bowl towards the bottom of your dough and gently stretch the side of the dough up and over the top. Turn your bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Keeping stretching, folding, and turning 8-10 times (about twice around the bowl). This helps start to form your loaf and get all the gluten going!
Lightly flour your work surface and turn out the dough with the top folded side down. To shape the loaf, you want to take both hands behind the dough and gently scoop and pull towards you. Turn a quarter turn and push back. Turn, pull, turn push. This stretches out and puts tension on the top which will give us a nice crust with a fluffy interior.
Transfer your loaf to a piece of parchment paper large enough to over hang your baking vessel (you'll be using this to get your loaf in and out of the pan and you definitely don't want to burn your fingers!)
Score the top of the loaf with a razor or sharp knife. One incision down the top is plenty, but if you want to get fancy with your design, go right ahead!
Carefully take your preheated baking vessel out of the oven and place your loaf in it using the parchment paper. Put the lid back on and the whole thing back in the oven.
Bake covered for 35 minutes then remove the lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes depending on who dark you want your crust.
Carefully remove the loaf by picking up the parchment paper and cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
You did it!! Spread some butter, dip in that yummy sauce, make a sandwich... enjoy a job well done.
TIPS + TRICKS
If you'd like your bread to be fresh and warm for a specific meal, start about 4 hours before you plan to eat.
Store loaves in a gallon freezer bag with the air squeezed out to retain freshness. There are no preservatives in this recipe so if you're not planning on eating the whole thing within a couple days, stick it in the freezer! And make sure to reuse your bags!!! They last a crazy long time and are much better off reused by you than "lasting" in a landfill!
If you are a visual learner like me, check out our reel showing the whole process! And while you're at it, give DamGood Farm a follow for more content on cooking, homesteading, and sustainability.
Check out this video by San Diego Artisan Bread School for more information on shaping your dough
Make sure to wait the whole 20 minutes, if not more before cutting into that beautiful loaf. I know it's hard, it looks and smells so good, but it is actually still cooking as it cools. Be patient. It's worth it, I promise!