Bread is the best; every bite is full of comforting, crunchy, yeasty (most times) goodness. It feels as though many people have recently awoken to the importance and magic of a good bakery; a true staple in a community. But sometimes, making it yourself is really cool too....and delicious.
This bread is super easy, and anyone can do it. One thing you do need though, is a dutch oven. The dutch oven gets super hot, which is what gives this bread its delightful crust. Make sure the handle is oven-proof !
Once you make this bread once, you probably won't even need to look at a recipe to make it again!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
3 CUPS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
1 TSP ACTIVE DRY YEAST
2 TSP SALT
Mix above dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Add 1 2/3 CUPS OF WARM WATER to dry mix.
Mix warm water into dry mix until generally incorporated. Do not over mix. Aiming for: kinda wet, kinda dry, kinda mixed, kinda not. You want to achieve a shaggy texture in your mixing, while still ensuring all extra flour at the bottom of the bowl is mixed in.
Cover your bowl with a silicone lid, or plastic wrap (note: make sure you seal your bowl with something that will 100% keep the moisture in...I find this makes a big difference.) I usually throw a hand towel overtop of the bowl too.
Let this proof for anywhere from 8-24 hours in a warm, draft-free spot. I usually do a 12-14 hour proof. I'll make my dough before bed the night before so that I can bake it around the same time the next morning. Or, I'll make it first thing in the morning so that it will be ready to bake for dinnertime.
WHEN YOU ARE READY TO BAKE, PREHEAT OVEN TO 450°F AND PUT YOUR DUTCH OVEN INTO THE PREHEATING OVEN.
Once the dough is done proofing, remove the cover on the bowl. Flour your hands, and your surface-top well. Sliding your fingers around the outside of the bowl, tug gently at your dough to unstick it from the bowl. Let it plop lazily down onto your floured surface. Using your fingertips and pulling gently, grab and pull the outermost parts of the bread and fold into the middle area, as to begin enveloping the inner dough into a round-like bread shape. Make sure all outer parts are pulled inwards. Once all the wet parts of your dough seem to be floured and your dough is in a general ball shape, turn it over, so that the smooth side is on top, and the folds are on the bottom. Use your hands to carefully make any last changes to the shape.
Remove the *very hot* dutch oven from the oven. Remove lid, and lightly flour the bottom. I usually like to add some cornmeal or semolina too. Gently plop your dough ball down into your dutch oven, attempting to centre it. Be super careful.
Score the top of your bread with a very sharp knife or a bread lame. There are lots of scoring patterns on google if you need inspiration.
Put the lid back on, and place it back in the oven. Cook at 450°F for 30 minutes with the lid on. Then remove lid, and cook for another 7-12 minutes. Keep an eye on your bread and remove it from the oven when it is the colour/crispness you desire. I usually do a full 12 minutes, lid off.
Let bread cool on a rack for at least 40 minutes before slicing.
This bread is usually best day-of, or day-after.
There you have it! A super easy, impressively yummy bread recipe. I didn't invent the "4 ingredient bread" of course, as it has been made in different variations for years and years. I DO hope that I've explained things in a way that made sense and inspired you to try it! Everyone makes a 4-ingredient bread a little bit different, so have fun with it, and don't let it stress you out!
-Try adding in fresh or dried herbs. I love fresh rosemary, summer savory and thyme.
-Mix in seeds like flax, sesame or poppy. Nuts like walnuts or pumpkin seeds are great too.
-When plopping your dough from your bowl down onto a floured surface, sprinkle down some sesame or flax seeds beforehand too. This will coat the top of your bread with a yummy seedy layer.
-Experiment with salt and moisture levels - I like a salty bread but some like to use less salt. Similarly, adding less or more warm water can change the consistency of your bread, so play around with that and see how you enjoy it best!