I love baking bread.
When I first started out, many years ago, I ended up with a few failed loaves on my hands, but after time I figured out how to mix the ingredients properly and I learned what the dough should feel like when it has been kneaded properly. These days I use a stand-mixer, which pretty much does all the hard work, but the scent of the bread is no less perfect than when I did things by hand.
To make the dough:
1 cup + 2 TB. of warm water
2 tsp. yeast
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour (I used 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour. You may use whatever you like)
***(This is the same dough that I use for calzones. It also makes great pizza crust.)
Start by dissolving the yeast
in the water. Next you will add enough flour and the salt to the water mixture until you are
able to handle the dough with your hands (it shouldn't be extremely sticky, although a
bit of stickiness is OK). Knead the dough on a lightly floured counter
for 8 minutes. (If you are using a stand mixer, knead the dough for 4 minutes at speed 2.) The dough should feel smooth and elastic at this point.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl (covered with a cloth) for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
(You may also make this in your bread machine on the dough cycle.)
Shape your loaf as shown and place it on a baking sheet covered with cornmeal:
Dust the dough with some flour and then cover it with a towel and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size:
Once the dough has doubled in size, slash the top with a sharp knife. Be careful doing this because it is possible to deflate your risen dough:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place a pan of water on the lower rack. Bake for 20 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown.
Let the loaf cool and then enjoy. This bread is great for sandwiches or simply sliced with butter.
If you find that your crust is too hard or the bread has risen too much and is crumbly, simply toast it and enjoy. Then start all over again until you come up with a loaf to be proud of!
(I tripled the recipe to make 3 loaves:
Click here for some great bread recipes and tips for successful loaves.
Happy bread baking!