This makes a crusty, heavy bread. I usually make a sponge and do a first rise for around 15 minutes for a better tasting bread. Feel free to skip this if you don’t have the time.
1 &2/3 cups of water
1 packet of dry yeast
One teaspoon of sugar
1& 1/2teaspoons of salt
3 & 1/4 cups of flour
Pour 1& 2/3 cups of tepid water into a ceramic or glass bowl, large enough to hold double the amount of your final bread dough. As for the temperature of the water, err on the cool side. Hot water kills the action of the yeast.
Sprinkle in 1 packet of dry yeast. Let the yeast soak for about 1-2 minutes; until the yeast absorbs the water. Stir vigorously with a whip.
Add one teaspoon of sugar, white or brown is okay. Stir vigorously with a whip. This helps to activate the yeast.
Let this mixture set for around 4-5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam. If it foams it confirms that you have good yeast. This will prove that the yeast is good and active. If the yeast does not foam stop and get new yeast.
Add 1 & Y2teaspoons of salt and stir in. This slows the yeast process down and adds taste to the bread. You can add more or less depending on your taste.
Slowly add 3 & 1/4 cups of unbleached, unbromated, high protein flour. Stir as you add the flour until it becomes difficult to turn, then use your hands to knead the bread. As an option you can add wheat flour, say %cup and the rest, 2 & 1/4 cups of white flour.
Knead for about 10minutes. On a floured surface, push with the palms of your hands, pull it back and over and push again.
Then set the dough in a bowl and cover with a dish towel.
Let it rise for a minimum of one hour. The longer you let it rise the tastier it will be. Two hours is better.
After it doubles in size, punch it down and let rest for about 5 minutes. Then form into a loaf and place on a greased sheet or bread pan.
Let rise for an hour.
Turn on oven to 450-500 F a half hour before baking.
Immediately before you put it into the oven, slash the top of the bread with a razor. This will allow the bread to rise faster during the spring rise time (first 10 minutes of baking) The heat should be high at this point. 450-500F. (See next step before beginning this one)
With an atomizer spray the surface of the bread and inside of the oven immediately before putting the bread into the oven.
Spray again in about 3-5 minutes. This slows the crust from crisping so that the bread can continue to rise.
After 10minutes lower the heat to 400F and cook until golden brown. One way to determine if the loaf is cooked is to snap it with your fingernail on the bottom and if you here a hollow sound it is done.
Place on a wire rack to cool.
1) I use bread flour. Works for me
2) This dough seems a lot wetter than most of the dough I have worked with. Had to use some additional flour on the board / my hands to prevent sticking. Other than that, works great and rises well with this proportion of flour / water.
3) I use 2tsp salt – I like it better.
4) I use a perforated baguette pan for rising (ebay $10) Saves a lot of hassle trying to get a wet dough off of a cutting board and into the oven without it falling.