Five Minute Crusty White Bread

 I am not a baker.  I am a bad baker.  I mess up practically every baked good that involve more than adding water, oil, and eggs to a mix.  It's a sad fact I have come to accept.  This recipe, however, is virtually impossible to mess up.  It is fantastic.  And fast, and delicious.

Not only is it simple, but versatile too.  I make standard loafs, bread bowls, pizza crust, bread sticks, and so much more from this simple dough I keep in my fridge.

  • 24 ounces lukewarm water (3 cups)
  • 32 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (at least 6 quart capacity).  Mix everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough.  That's it.  Awesome, right? 
  2. Next, let the dough rise.  Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days.  The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it'll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's OK; that's what it's supposed to do.
  3.  When you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It'll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.  Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. 
  4. Place the dough on a piece of parchment (if you're going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking. 
  5. Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. It won't appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it'll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you're using one) to 450°F while the dough rests. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go. 
  6. When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's OK, it'll pick right up in the hot oven. 
  7. Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.  
  8.  Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown.  Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
  • To make pizza crust, roll about 1/4 of the recipe to approximately 1/2" thick, bake on a preheated pizza or cast iron stone at 500°F.  Bake the crust for about 7 minutes.  Add sauce and toppings and cook an additional 10-15 minutes.

 Recipe yields 3-4 loafs.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour.

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