Quick, Fresh bread recipe
Makes enough dough for about four loaves
This bread is fantastic since it’s fast-friendly and super quick to make. I love making it since there’s no kneading or double-proofing. You mix and stir the stuff, throw it in the fridge, grab a handful, then bake.
Lukewarm water (100° degree or below): 3 cups or 680 grams
Yeast: 1 Tbsp or 10 grams
Salt: 1-1½ Tbsp or 17-25 grams
AP Flour: 6½ cups or 910 grams
This is all you need. If you have a kitchen scale like I do, I find it easier to just use weight – it’s quicker to measure and produces consistent results.
1) Mix together water, salt, and yeast.
The key is not to use hot water – it can kill the yeast. I get the water to the point where it’s hard to tell if it’s cold or hot (about body temperature), but honestly, don’t worry about it! I’ve never killed the yeast. If it doesn’t feel hot it’s probably fine. Even almost freezing water will do fine, it will just take a bit longer to rise.
As for the yeast, just one packet will do fine, you don’t need to worry with weight. I included it in case you buy yeast in bulk.
2) Add AP flour. Mix until just combined. NO KNEADING OR ELSE
You don’t need to mix it for very long. Once there aren’t any dry pockets and it’s in one big ball, you’re good to go. It doesn’t have to be exact – don’t worry!
Few notes about the flour: don’t use cake or bread flour as the protein content is different, and it’ll throw off the moisture content. Any brand will do. However, I’ve found that some brands made from harder wheat, like King Arthur Flour, have slightly more protein and need slightly more water to maintain the balance. Here’s a handy reminder:
King Arthur Flour (or any with hard winter wheat): Add ~2-3 Tbsp water or 20-30 grams
3) Cover with Saran wrap and proof.
Set the bowl, covered, out to let it rise. You can do this on the countertop if you want to make bread that day, or stick it in the fridge and go on with your day. If you want to make bread on the same day, it should be good to go within two hours on the countertop. The bread rises until it collapses onto itself and doesn’t rise anymore.
——ON BAKE DAY——-
4) Tear off a handful of dough like you mean it.
It really doesn’t matter how big it is. I get about a grapefruit size, or about 1 lb. of dough out. IT WILL BE STICKY. That’s why you have to grab it like you mean it. It’s much easier to handle if you wet your hands with cold water first.
5) “Cloak” the dough just before baking.
This is a bit hard to describe, but you need to give it a little bit of shape before baking. Are your hands wet with cold water? If not, you’re going to have a bad time. To shape it, you’re just “cloaking” it with dough. Picture turning down a sock over the top of a boot. Hold the dough in your hands, spread it out and down. Then turn the dough 90 degrees and do it once more. Don’t handle it too much! IF I HEAR YOU’VE BEEN KNEADING I’LL TURN YOU IN TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES. You can pinch it at the bottom to help seal.
6) Let it rest for 40 minutes and preheat your oven to 450°.
Turn the oven on and let it preheat. I put some semolina flour or cornmeal down onto a pizza peel, then plop the dough on it to let it rest. If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can rest it on a baking sheet with oil, butter, parchment paper or a silicone mat.
For the resting, I’ve forgotten about it for up to an hour and a half and it was fine. 40-90 minutes will do nicely.
7) Score the top of the bread.
Dust the top of the dough liberally with flour and slash ½-inch deep cuts into it. This helps the steam escape inside the loaf. I usually cut in the shape of a plus sign or tic-tac-toe, but you can do it any way you’d like, as long as they’re there and you have four or five slashes.
8) Bake for 32 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you thump it.
That’s right – thump it. It should sound like your thumping the bottom of your shoe, not like you’re thumping your terrible neighbor’s eye.
Important note: If you have a pizza stone, these work the best. I bake mine on our pizza stone, and it’s always been great. I preheat the stone inside the oven during the resting. If you don’t have a stone, a baking sheet is fine. But I seriously recommend getting one.
9) Let it rest for an hour or two then eat!
Honestly, I know it’s hard, but you’ve got to wait. If you cut it too soon, the bread deflates and won’t be very tasty. As the bread cools, it finishes the baking process. Take a potato and wait (old men I grew up around used to say that – it just means wait).
That’s it! You’ve baked tasty bread. I know I’ve said a lot, but trust me it takes 5 minutes to mix. You put it in the fridge and the rest of the week you have dough waiting on you. After dinner I’ll grab a handful, cloak it, preheat the oven and throw it in. Then we have fresh bread for days! When we want it again, just grab some more dough. I’ve found that it keeps for up to two weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!