Around our home, I am the primary chef but my hubby is the real baker. He just has an instinct about how long to cook something, what temperature will be best, and just when to pull out the baking so it never burns. He has a knack for creating ooey, gooey goodness, all right! Nevertheless, I have gone through various phases of attempting to bake that perfect loaf of homemade bread. I dream of waking the kids with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air. What could be cozier?
I have tried recipes from starters, recipes that turned out too salty, too gooey, too hard in the crust. I have tried to juggle the 12 to 18 hour proofing that many recipes require in order to deliver the much desired perfect loaf of steamy bread first thing in the morning … and finally my persistence paid off when I landed at jezebel.com!!
This wonderful website offers a dead simple bread recipe comprised of only 4 ingredients and one incredible perk….. you mix the dough, let it sit on the counter for 1 – 2 hours, then close the container and pop it into the fridge. Presto!! After letting it cool in the fridge for just a couple hours more, this dough is ready for you to grab a handful and get to the baking. As an added bonus, one batch of dough delivers more than one loaf of delicious bread. The dough keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, and this means that if I prepare the dough one day, I have 20 days of spontaneous bread making potential sitting right in my refrigerator!!
Every time I have baked bread from this fantastic recipe, it has been met with rave reviews from kids and grandparents alike! It has the perfect golden crust, is light and airy inside, and smells wonderful. HOORAY!!
I recently noticed that the site where I found this recipe is now offline. Fortunately, I had printed a copy for myself months ago, so I have provided the recipe for you below. ENJOY!!
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1.5 tablespoons salt
- 1.5 tablespoons of quick rise instant yeast
- 6.5 cups of flour… whatever type you prefer for bread
- 1 large plastic storage container that can seal tightly and keep in your fridge
- Large cast iron dutch oven with lid OR glass dish with lid OR loaf pan… whatever you prefer to bake your bread in. I always use my dutch oven.
Preparing the Dough:
- Run water from your kitchen tap adjusting the temperature until it is neither hot nor cold.
- Add 3 cups of lukewarm water and the salt to your container and mix well.
- Add the yeast to the container and swish around a bit. Let the yeast sit in the water for about 5 minutes until you notice a few bubbles beginning to form.
- Add the flour to the container. I just pour it all in at once.
- Start mixing the dough with one hand. Really make sure to squeeze the dough through your fingers and thoroughly combine all the wet spots from the bottom edges of the container. You don’t want any dry lumpy clumps or gooey wet spots in your dough, so really check along all the sides of the container as well as the middle of your dough ball to ensure it is well blended.
- Now leave the container of dough slightly open on the kitchen counter. In 1 – 2 hours (depending how warm your kitchen is), you will notice the dough has risen enough to pop out of the top of the container.
- Punch the dough down with your fist, and seal the container. Place the container in the fridge to cool for a couple hours BUT WATCH OUT… Sometimes the dough keeps rising and pops the container’s lid open which dries out the dough. I check on the refrigerated dough after about 30 minutes and if this has occurred I just punch it down again and reseal the container. That usually does it.
- Once the dough has cooled for a couple of hours (or any time over the next 3 weeks!) you are READY TO BAKE!
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Arrange the oven racks as high as you can for the pot/pan you are using. This helps prevent burning the bottom of the bread at this hot cooking temperature.a. NOTE : It is NOT necessary to pre-heat your pot to the oven temperature with this recipe, though I have read many recipes that recommend this step. I leave that out.
- Put some oil in the bottom of your baking dish and on your hands. Grab a clump of about 1/3 of the dough and rub your oily hands around it creating a dough ball.
- Pop the dough into the dish and place it in the oven. If you are using a covered baking dish or dutch oven like I do, the crust is especially delicious all the way around the finished dough. The original recipe I found used an uncovered loaf pan, so that works well too.
- Bake the bread for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. I keep mine covered for that whole time. After 30 minutes, I usually increase the temperature to 500 degrees and take off the cover for another 5 minutes just to finish off the bread.
- I always give a call out to the family when the bread comes out of the oven to remind them not to go near the hot pot on the stove. It takes some time to cool after it leaves such a hot oven.
- Remove the bread from the pot and place it on a wire rack until it is cool enough to be handled.
- Slice and ENJOY!