• 4 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

This is my second favorite bread recipe to make of all time.

I say second favorite cause the first rank goes to Jim Lahey’s miche bread recipe. http://www.marthastewart.com/255146/carrot-bread

Although Jim Lahey’s bread recipe is my favorite recipe of all time, I use it less often because you have to make it over a two day period. I often I want a loaf of bread the same day ūüôā

This bread recipe is fantastic because it is super versatile. ¬†I’ve made it in baguettes, in loaves, in the iconic wreath form that it was initially created in, I’ve even done a pumpkin shaped loaf for Halloween.

It was created by the food network and you can find it here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/holiday-bread-wreath-recipe

However when I make it I tweak it a bit because I make it to suit my taste buds and I make it with the ingredients I have in my pantry.

If you wanna make it my way or use my tips to success here’s how I make mine:

How To:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl (with a wooden spoon or your hands or whatever you feel like)¬†until the dough comes together loosely, you don’t want it to form a ball….the dough is too wet for that anyway, you just want to have all the flour be absorbed by the water.
  • Preheat your oven to the lowest setting (I preheat mine to 125F) and¬†turn it off as soon as the temperature is reached.
  • Place a kitchen towel over the bowl (don’t let it touch the dough or you will have one massive sticky mess to clean on your towel if you do)¬†place the bowl in the oven for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Divide the dough in two ( I love to use two spoons to do this) and place each half into a separate bowl.
  • Cover the bowls with cling wrap and place them in the fridge for two hours.
  • Dust each dough with flour and shape them with your hands into a taught ball, they will go back into their individual bowls and back into the fridge for 30 minutes still covered with plastic wrap.
  • Preheat your oven to 475F , if you have a pizza stone place it in the oven on the top rack while the oven is still cool (pizza stone not necessary if you make loaves of bread).¬†If you have a broiler pan, place it on the bottom rack of the oven, if not use a baking pan lined with aluminum foil NOT PYREX (I’ve had it explode on me) Pour water into the pan till 3/4 of the way full. (fill during cooking if needed)
    • For the wreath : follow food networks steps
    • For the loaves : line two loaf pans with parchment. Form the dough into logs the length of the loaf pans. Insert the dough in each pan and let rest room temp for 30 minutes covered with a kitchen towel. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pan to let cool. (it will slice more easily the next day, if you have any left by then)
    • For the pumpkin shape : Lay each ball of dough onto a floured piece of parchment. Snip off a piece of dough with scissors from the bottom of each ball to use as the stem. Using your thumb create a hole in the center of the ball of dough almost as if to look like a doughnut. ¬†Using scissors make 4 to 6 cuts around the ball at even spacing, without cutting all the way to the center. ¬†Form gently with your hand to look like a pumpkin. Insert the ”stem” into the center. Let rest room temp for 30 min covered with a kitchen towel. Bake one dough at a time for 30 minutes. (use a pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet to transfer the dough and parchment from your counter to the oven)
    • For the baguette :¬†Lay each ball of dough onto a floured piece of parchment. ¬†Using the palm of your hands, roll each log as long and thin as you’d like your baguettes to be. Let rest for 30 minutes on the counter, covered with a kitchen towel. Bake one dough at a time for 20 to 30 minutes, the fatter the baguette, the longer the cooking time. (use a pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet to transfer the dough from your counter to the oven).

Tips:

  • I don’t like to keep¬†¬†more flour varieties than I need to in my pantry. So I often use all purpose flour as a substitute for bread flour.
  • If you have the time and would like to make your own bread flour, here’s how : add 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking powder per cup of flour. It gives a great texture to your bread and makes it more sturdy and puffy instead of cakey.
  • I found that 4 tsp’s of salt was too much for me, but give it a try and see for yourself.
  • When you have the time make Jim Lahey’s bread recipe. ¬†It requires a long rest time but very little work. I love it because the longer the rise the better the bread texture. The less yeast required, the more it resembles a natural fermentation. And I have found that your bread stays fresh longer the longer the rise as well. All of these are plus plus pluses in my book! I’ve made his bread recipe with regular water instead of carrot juice, and I’ve omitted all the add ins (currants and seeds) it’s great just like that, so I can only imagine with all the extra ingredients.