There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread wafting through the house. I can finally cross “bread from scratch” off of my culinary bucket list! I’ve been saying to myself that I would make it when I got a Kitchen Aid mixer. Well, I’ve had the mixer for about a year. Procrastinate much? Unfortunately now that I’ve made it, my hubby insists that – we shall never buy bread again!
It was in fact the best darn bread I have ever had, but with a baby that (still) wakes up 3 times a night, it’s not likely that this will make it into my regular “from scratch” repetoire any time soon. Clearly, I have to finish sewing the logo onto my super mom uniform first!
This classic crusty bread goes with just about anything. Serve with soups and stews or just slather on some butter, honey and jam! Try it with Leek and Potato Soup with Bacon.
1½ tablespoons dry yeast (2 packets)
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
3 cups warm water
6½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon coarse salt
⅓ cup cornmeal
1. Mix the yeast and honey with the water in your stand mixer with a dough hook on low speed.
2. Add the flour and salt and increase your mixer speed to medium. Knead until the dough becomes one big mass. About 3-4 min. You will know when it is ready by poking it. When the dough bounces back, you’re all set. If it’s still too sticky, add a little extra flour. If you want to get all “paleo,” or you’re in desperate need of an arm workout, go ahead and knead your dough by hand.
3. Place the dough into a large greased bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it sit in a warm place for about 2 hours. Alternatively, put it in the refrigerator overnight; it will rise more slowly. For a sourdough, leave it in the fridge for a couple of days.
4. Once the dough has doubled in size, divide it into thirds. Pull on each piece to form a ball, tucking all the ends in at the bottom. The balls should be semi-smooth. Dust the top of each round loaf with a bit of flour and slice an X into the top with a sharp knife. Place the balls at least 4 inches apart on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Let them rise, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Fill a baking dish with 2 cups of water and place it under the rack where your bread will go. (This is the trick to making a nice, crusty loaf of rustic bread. The steam from the water adds a nice crunch to the surface of the loaf.) Bake the loaves for 30 minutes, or until the crusts are a dark golden color and the loaves sound hollow when you tap them.
The Great Hall of Winterfell was hazy with smoke and heavy with the smell of roasted meat and fresh-baked bread.
—A Game of Thrones