This bread dough literally comes together in less than 5 minutes because of the use of instant yeast which doesn’t have to set in warm water to activate. All you do is throw the ingredients in your mixer or in a mix bowl and stir it up. Then you are done. For reals. Well, besides the rising time. But that can be done in the fridge if you have to head to work or bed.
Another amazing perk? This recipe makes enough for 3 or 4 loaves and the dough can be refrigerated for up to a week. That means fresh bread every few days with only a few minutes of work! I whipped this up on Saturday and so far we have had fresh bread Saturday and last night. I’m holding off on the last bit for Saturday to see how tangy the dough gets after refrigerating for 7 days.
If you can’t use up all the dough with the week, it can be frozen too! Just thaw it out and then bake as directed below.
Have I convinced you yet? I sure hope so because this bread is amazing and incredibly easy!
- 3 cups lukewarm water (about 105 degrees F)
- 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket or a stand mixer.
- Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don’t have a mixer, just stir with a big spoon or dough whisk till everything is combined.
- Next, you’re going to let the dough rise. If you’ve made the dough in a plastic ice cream bucket, you’re all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you’ve made the dough in a bowl that’s not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it’s going to rise a lot. There’s no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it’s time to bake bread (I sprayed mine with non-stick spray).
- Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. (If you’re pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it’ll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it’ll rise, then fall. That’s OK; that’s what it’s supposed to do.
- When you’re ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It’ll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.
- Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don’t fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can.
- Place the dough on a piece of parchment (if you’re going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.
- Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. It won’t appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it’ll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you’re using one) to 450°F while the dough rests. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.
- When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2″ deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that’s OK, it’ll pick right up in the hot oven.
- Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It’ll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.
- Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown.
- Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.