I love experimenting with bread recipes. Every time I come up with a new one, I declare, "This one is my favorite. I'm never making any other type of bread again." And that happened again with today's and I may actually mean it because it's the easiest, most low-maintenance recipe ever but even with that minimal effort, you end up with a supremely delicious loaf of bread. I mean, look at it. How pro does that bread look?
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups warm water
2¼ teaspoons dry active yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon sugar
Grab the warm water - it shouldn't be any hotter than 110F - and sprinkle in the sugar and dry active yeast. Stir and let it sit until it's foamy.
Grab a really big bowl and sprinkle in the flour and salt and give it a good stir.
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and then use a wooden spoon to mix until a sticky dough forms. The dough will be really wet, but that's fine. We're not kneading this so it doesn't even matter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge overnight. If you don't have time to let the dough rise in the fridge, let it rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
The dough will almost triple in size.
Since the dough is really sticky, sprinkle it generously with flour and punch it down.
Grab a sheet pan and line it with parchment and then sprinkle it with cornmeal.
Form the dough into a loaf on the sheet pan. The size and shape of the loaf is up to you. I like a giant long roll so I used all of the dough to make one loaf. You could opt for smaller loaves or even a boule. Cover the loaf with a damp cloth and leave to rise for about an hour. It will rise a little and also spread out a little. If you want a tighter, taller loaf, you can place the dough between two rolling pins to keep it from spreading as much.
Score the dough with slashes or X's. You'll notice the lovely air bubbles in the slashed openings.
Set the oven to 450F and slide a pan of hot water onto the bottom rack. The water bath will create a humid environment inside the oven and this is what will give the bread a really amazing crust.
Once the oven's hot, pop the bread right in and then let it bake for 25 to 30 minutes until it's golden brown and gorgeous.
This is how beautiful and amazing the bread will look when it's finished. Brown and crusty and so pretty.
The bread has a lovely crisp crust and a fluffy, chewy interior. This bread would be great for making a sandwich, as a dipper in soup, as a receptacle for jam and/or Nutella at breakfast, as a sponge to mop up the tomato sauce surrounding a bowl of spaghetti; basically, it's a jack-of-all-trades.