Bread, again, but different





Jonah and I keep a little white board in our apartment next to our refrigerator where we write all kinds of things: items to get at the grocery store, tasks to do (such as getting a watch so we can time our couch-to-5k runs which we’ve just started), occasionally notes to each other, and there are also little magnets so we can put checks to be deposited and notes from our bosses, etc. It’s really a handy little space near the door to remind us of all the little things we need to do.

Anyway, on Monday, Jonah wrote a little grocery list on the board before he went into work. Upon seeing that bread was on the list and I hadn’t baked anything in a couple days and hadn’t made bread in quite some time, I decided to make some instead of just buying some. I had found this incredibly easy looking recipe over at Joy the Baker and had been waiting to try it. I think it’s my last “super easy” recipe before I try making my own sourdough starter. So keep an eye out. The other great thing about the recipe was that it only called for bread flour, and I’m still trying to use up that giant bag, so it was perfect. You’ll only need 4 ingredients, one of which is water, so really, only 3.

This bread is delicious with just some butter, toasted with butter and jam. Jonah said it also made a delicious PB+J. And I’m about to go try using it for a grilled cheese. This bread was so supremely simple to make, I think everyone should try it. It’s great for a beginner recipe that still has some of that crispy crust. Enjoy!

Simple Bread

Makes 2 loaves


4 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water


Put 3 3/4 cups of the flour into a mixing bowl (electric mixer would be nice). Reserve the other 1/4 cup of the flour for kneading/incorporating later. On one side of the pile of flour in your mixing bowl, put the salt, and on the other side, put the yeast. Not sure why this is so important as everything is about to get mixed together, but whatever. Now pour the water over the flour and mix it until it just comes together (I started with the paddle attachment and then switched to the dough hook once the dough had come together).

Once the dough comes together and you switch to a dough hook, put your mixer on a medium speed and let it knead the dough for 2 minutes. The dough should easily clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom a little bit. If you feel the need, you can add a little flour or water depending on the status of your dough, but mine was pretty spot on, so I didn’t want to mess with it. After mixing it for 2 minutes, let it rest for 5 minutes. After the 5 minute rest, mix it again for 3 minutes. At this point you can flour your counter (with that 1/4 cup of bread flour you reserved) and dump the dough out.

Now you can hand-knead the dough, incorporating the 1/4 cup of the flour reserved. You may not need to incorporate the whole 1/4 cup. I’d say I got about 1/8 cup into the dough, and then stopped. This was the first time in my bread-making experience that I felt like I could tell by the feel of the dough when it was ready. Right when I dumped it onto the counter, it was not as dense as my other doughs have been; instead it was light and easy to work with. I didn’t want to push it, so when it stopped taking the extra flour in, I stopped adding. When the dough seems smooth enough, form it into a ball, lightly oil a bowl (I just used the same mixing bowl) and put the dough in, turning to coat the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a dish towel, and let rest for 1 1/2 hours.

After the 1 1/2 hours, the dough should have about doubled in size. Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down, and reform it into a ball, replace it in the bowl and cover it, letting it rise for another half hour.

After this second shorter rest, remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface (I just never cleaned my counter till the bread was in the oven) and cut it into two pieces. Form each lump into a smooth and round ball. The best way to do this is to just keep grabbing the edges of the dough and tucking them underneath. Eventually you’ll have a tight, smooth ball. Cover the two balls of dough with a damp cloth and let them rest on the lightly floured surface (aka counter) for 45 minutes to an hour.

Towards the end of this resting period, you can preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Make sure your rack is in the bottom half of your oven because the bread will rise. And put another rack below it. Put a baking sheet (or baking stone if that’s what you’re using) in the oven while it’s heating so it gets hot. Uncover your balls of dough, and slash the tops with 2-4 slashes to guide the expansion of the bread while it’s baking. When your oven is heated, take out the hot baking sheet and carefully put the dough on it, and put it in the oven.

Now it’s time for the steam. A couple minutes after you put the bread in the oven, you can dump 1/4 cup of water onto the oven floor (if you have an electric oven) and immediately close the door, then repeat in a couple minutes. I wasn’t all about dumping water in my oven for some reason, so I did what I’d read in a previous recipe and put half a cup (so I didn’t have to open the oven again and let the heat escape) of water on another baking sheet and put it on the rack beneath the bread. It also works just fine and creates steam. the steam is what helps make the crust nice and crispy, I think.

Anyway, you’ll want to bake the loaves for 20-25 minutes. They’ll be a beautiful golden brown. It’s smart to throw a thermometer in there too, just to make sure. They should register between 190-210 degrees. Now, transfer them to a wire rack to cool (mine were still making crackling/baking noises for a couple minutes, it was kind of cool). Make sure they are completely cool before taking a slice, spreading on some butter, and enjoying.