Spend 5-10 minutes mixing water, flour, yeast & salt in a big plastic container on the weekend, and then shape & bake small loaves each morning for the rest of the week good for 2 sandwiches each. No kneading, no stand mixer or baking stone needed. Inexpensive, easily adapted, convenient, and best of all: delicious.
See the weight equivalents page if you don't have a food scale.
Mix Dry. Put 1000g unbleached all-purpose flour in a 6qt container. Add 18g salt and 8g yeast. Mix briefly to distribute.
Add Wet. Add 700g water Mix well with a big spoon just until all the flour is damp. There is no need to knead.
Sit. Cover (with snap-type lid or tightly with plastic wrap) and let sit on the counter 2-4 hrs. If you can, come back every half hour or so and spend about 30 seconds gently folding in the sides with a large flat paddle. This gives more rise, but can be omitted if not convenient.
Refrigerate. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before baking your first loaf. Should last a week or two in the fridge.
Optional: If convenient, every morning that you are not baking, spend 30 seconds reforming the dough lump into a ball.
Form Loaf. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour. Grab the dough by the floury part, lift it partially out and cut off a piece with a bread knife. Tuck the edges underneath to form a ball and put it in a deep pan or pot sprayed with oil and dusted with cornmeal. 340g of dough (about 1/5th) makes enough bread for 2 good-sized sandwiches.
Store Leftovers. Re-form the remaining dough into a ball and return to the fridge.
Sit. Cover the new loaf tightly with the pot lid or foil. Spray the underside of the foil/lid with oil if the bread might rise that high. Let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
Bake. For a small (340g) loaf, bake for 35 minutes covered at 450F, then remove the foil and continue baking for around 10 minutes longer until nicely browned. You do not need to preheat the oven, but you will need to adjust baking times based on your oven, the amount of dough you are using, etc.
Cool. Allow to cool slightly, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely (~1-2hrs).
You can tinker with the flour composition any way you want. Whole wheat, rye, oatmeal, flax, wheat bran, cereal, raisins, etc. You can also add a little (1-6 teaspoons) sugar, honey or molassas.
Dough can be formed in different ways, ie rolls, baguettes traditional loaves etc. If the shape cannot be tightly covered for the initial baking to trap the steam, you may want to create steam by putting a pan of water in the bottom of the oven.
If you want to bake all the dough at once, start at least 24 hours in advance. Mix the dough, rise, refrigerate for half a day, take the dough and spend a minute shaping into a ball, then put it back in the fridge for another half a day before taking it out and putting it in its final shape.
You can make smaller or larger amounts as desired. Just keep the ratio of water to flour (7:10 by weight) the same, and adjust the salt and yeast accordingly.
A rice paddle is great for stirring the dough.
The dough, just after mixing
Rising on the counter
Small round loaf in a deep loaf pan.
Medium round loaf baked in a round pan.
Close-up of bubbly crust texture.
Sliced & ready to eat.
Instead of a full loaf, you can also take 3-5oz of dough and make as many rolls as will fit in your pan. 3oz makes a good dinner size roll, 4oz for a small sandwich roll and 5oz for a larger one. This photo shows four 4oz rolls baked in a 7" square cake pan. Depending the size you select, you shoud be able to make 12-20 rolls with one batch. No need to make them all at once, though, just make what you need and leave the rest of the dough for another day. Or if you end up with extra baked rolls, they freeze well for use another day.
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