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Easy Peasy Crusty Bread
A chewy, delightful bread with a crisp crust, perfect for pairing with a bowl of soup.
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 ½ cups warm water (you may not need it all)
- 3 ¼ cups bread flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt (not Kosher this time! table salt)
- Combine yeast and ½ cup water in a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes to “wake up” the yeast and then stir to dissolve.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt and make a “well” in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir just enough of the flour into it to make a soft paste.
- Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let it sit for about 20 minutes in a warm location to make a “sponge”.
- Pour in another half cup of water and stir, adding in more of the remaining water as needed to form a firm dough.
- Knead for 10 minutes, put back into the bowl and cover with a dish towel.
- Let rise for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
- After the rise, punch it down and shape into a loaf.
- Allow to rise a second time on a sheet pan, covered with a dish towel, until doubled in size again (about 45 minutes).
- Cut a few slashes in the top of the loaf and bake at 425 °F for 30-40 minutes – it’s done when the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
Note: if you, like me, have trouble finding a warm enough spot in the house to get the dough to rise, set the bowl on top of an electric heating pad (like you use for a sore back) set on low. This trick solved my flat bread problems.
Obligatory Fictional Backstory
The Bible says that “man cannot live on bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus was referring to the requirement for spiritual food here, but I set out to prove that in the physical realm, man can live on bread alone. I ate nothing but this bread for 30 days.
I got scurvy. And rickets. And dry eye (from lack of Vitamin A). I was hospitalized for malnutrition. Apparently man cannot live on bread alone, even in the physical realm. You need a good soup to go with it.