“Baking bread is easy. I can do that!” That’s what I want you to think after you’ve read this post. And then I want you to give it a go. Yes, I, a Weight Watchers lifetime member eats bread. I find the taste and texture of homemade bread far superior to anything I buy at the grocery store. It is satisfying and wholesome and delicious. And it is one of those things that I refuse to give up “on program”.
What is bread? When you get right down to it, it is just flour and water mixed together and baked in some fashion. Most bread that you and I eat, however, also has some salt, yeast and sometimes sugar and/or oil. You already know what the yeast does. The salt, sugar and oil? They affect the taste and texture.
For a while, I was using this recipe for a crusty loaf of bread that went well with soup or stew. My problem with it was time. I needed to know YESTERDAY that I want the bread today. One day, I wanted bread for that night’s dinner. I found this recipe. I am sure that if you follow the recipe to the letter, you will get a beautiful loaf of bread. As luck would have it, though, I screwed up the recipe. I added too much water to the dough and it turned into a rather shaggy looking dough. This did not deter me because in the first recipe I mentioned above, you WANTED a shaggy looking dough. End result? THE BEST BREAD I HAVE EVEN BAKED AND EATEN. 🙂
Do you want to go directly to my recipe? Click here.
This recipe requires a few basic supplies. They are
- a bowl,
- a fork,
- measuring spoons/cups,
- a soup ladle,
- parchment paper,
- a tea towel,
- a Dutch oven (Don’t have a Dutch oven? You can use the crock from a slow cooker plus a disposable lasagna pan.)
- baking sheet (optional — this makes clean up easier. If you prefer, use your counter top)
I call this bread Just Relax Bread because I often need to remind myself to relax when handling this dough. It does not behave like most bread doughs. It seems like it is a lost cause. But, I simply remind myself to “just relax” and it has always turned out great.
I hope you will try this recipe and then let me know how it turned out for you. If you have any questions, please ask. I am happy to help!
14 oz. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. table salt
2 tsp white sugar
2 tsp dry active yeast
1-3/4 cup lukewarm water (80° ≤ 110° F)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to “warm” (anywhere between 170° – 200° F). Once oven reaches desired temperature, turn it OFF.
While oven is preheating, proof your yeast. Dissolve sugar into some or all the water. Then gently stir in the yeast. After about 10 minutes, you can use the yeasty water. If you only used some water to proof your yeast, add more water to measure up to 1-3/4 cup.
In your oven safe bowl, combine the flour and salt with your fork. Slowly, start to add the yeast-sugar water. I like to use a soup ladle because it measures about 1/2 cup. Add some water, mix with fork. Repeat until all the dough is moist. You may or may not use all the water.
Place a piece of parchment paper over your bowl.
Dampen your tea towel and drape it over the parchment paper. Move your dough bowl into it’s warm and cozy “room” (a.k.a. the oven which is now warm and turned OFF)
After about an hour, your dough is ready to use.
Take the dough bowl out of the oven. Preheat your oven to 425° F. Then place your dutch oven, with lid, into the oven and let it heat for 30 minutes.
With well floured hands and a small bowl of flour at the ready, take the dough (or just pour it) out of the bowl onto a well floured baking sheet. I use a baking sheet for this step because it makes clean up MUCH EASIER. If you prefer, use your counter top. Either way, make sure it is heavily floured.
Gently reshape the dough into a ball. Heavily flour the dough and re-cover it with parchment paper and/or tea towel. Let it rest and rise while your pot is heating up.
After 30 minutes, with oven-mitted hands, remove pot from oven and take off the lid. Coat the inside bottom of pot with 1 Tbsp olive oil.
When you remove the tea towel, you’ll notice your dough has risen again. Yay!
With well-floured hands, transfer the dough from the baking sheet (or your counter) to the hot, oiled pot. This is the tricky part. The dough will be very loose. It’ll have the consistency of jelly in a plastic bag. The dough may stick to your hands and/or the surface on which it’s been resting. Just Relax and tuck whatever you need to tuck to handle the dough enough to bring it to the pot. Carefully place dough into hot oiled pot.
Replace the lid and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and bake for another 5-10 minutes to brown it up a bit more.
Remove pot from oven and tip the bread out of the pot. PLEASE BE CAREFUL! Place on a cooling rack. It will be easier to slice, the cooler it is.