(This recipe is easily doubled or halved ... I actually half it ...
to make four smaller-sized loaves.)
to make four smaller-sized loaves.)
3 cups warm water
1.5 TBS granulated yeast
1.5 tsp kosher salt (or other course salt)
6.5 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour (measured with simple scoop-n-sweep method)
Add water to a five-quart resealable, lidded plastic food container (not airtight ... i actually use a crisper for lettuce) ... add yeast and salt .. don't worry about getting it all to dissolve.
Add all of the flour at once ... and mix ( i do it by hand) ... if it gets too hard to stir, then i reach in with very wet hands and press the mixture together.
DO NOT KNEAD. You just want the dough moist; with no dry patches.
This step is done in a matter of minutes ... like, literally ... and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of your container.
Cover with the lid ... not airtight ... and allow the dough to rise at room temp until it begins to collapse (or at least flatten on the top.)
Relax. You don't need to monitor doubling or tripling of rise action.
You can use the dough any time after this period. But I refrigerate immediately and wait till next day to bake because cold wet dough is less sticky and easier to work with ... but if you want to make a loaf right away that's okay.
Sprinkle a pizza peel (i use a small hand-held chopping platter) with cornmeal to prevent loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into your oven.
Sprinkle the surface of the cold, wet dough with flour. Pull a glob up about the size of a grapefruit and cut/tear off. Make sure your hands are floury. Stretch the glob into a kinda-like ball ... and pull the sides down to the bottom all the way around.
The bottom of your loaf will look like a collection of bunched ends ... this entire process should take no longer than 30-60 seconds.
Put the round loaf on your pizza peel (or chopping block thingy) ... let it sit there for 40 minutes or so ... don't need to cover it ... you might not see much rise, but don't worry cause it'll rise in the oven during baking.
About halfway through the dough's resting period ... turn on your oven to 450. Place a baking stone in there (i use a large cookie sheet) ... and also place an oven-proof bowl of water in there (i use a stainless steel bowl) or you can use your broiler platter thingy.
Once your 40 minutes is up, dust the top of your ball with flour and then slash the top of your loaf with an X or a whatever ... by this time your oven has been pre-heating for about 20 minutes.
Don't worry if your oven is not at full temp.
With a quick jerk of your wrist, plop that dough right onto your hot baking stone (or cookie sheet) ... steam is essential in the baking process.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and hard to the touch.
Don't worry about dark crust ... or hard as a rock crust ... because you used wet dough there is little risk of drying out the interior of your loaf.
When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will sing (make popping/crackling noises.) Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack, for best flavor, texture and slicing.
The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm back up when cooled.
Store the remaining dough in the frig ... and use it over the next 14 days ... make sure you keep it in a lidded container that is not airtight ...
When your dough container is empty don't wash it! Just re-mix another batch. The aged dough stuck to the sides hydrate and incorporate into the new dough (just scrape it down into the rest.)
This is the easiest, bestest dadgum bread in the world ... and people are going to think you are an artisan, old-world breadmaker ... I can't believe I'm sharing ... argh.
:-* Enjoy! :-*