This is the simplest – and at the same time possibly the best – bread recipe I have ever made. No kneading, no bread machine, and you get good bakery-quality bread for something like $1 per loaf, assuming you’re buying flour in 5kg bags. Here’s a handy how-to video:
If you’re more textually inclined, read on. You will need:
- 2 + 2/3 cups warm water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp yeast
- 5-6 cups plain flour
- A little bit of extra flour – rice flour is excellent, but whatever you’ve got handy will be fine
- A cast iron pot with lid (or possibly a casserole dish if you don’t have a suitable pot)
- Patience, because you have to leave the dough overnight – this is not instant gratification bread, but it’s worth the wait
Put the water in a bowl, sprinkle in the salt and yeast, and stir until everything is dissolved. Add the flour – you want somewhere between 5 and 6 cups, the aim being to create quite a sloppy dough. Mix it all together with your hands, but just for long enough so that it’s even. More flour gives a firm dough which in turn will result in a very dense loaf, whereas less flour makes for fluffier bread, so really the moister the better (Morgan insists that “moister” is not a word, but I think it’s perfectly cromulent). If the dough sticks annoyingly to your hands, it’s a good sign.
Once the dough is mixed, cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and put it in a warm place for 18-24 hours. On top of (or even inside) a rack of computer equipment is ideal, but if you don’t have one of those, a warmish room will work fine. The tea towel will dry out eventually, so make sure to keep it damp, say, with a spray bottle of water, or just take the towel off the bowl and run it under a tap.
After 18-24 hours, tip and/or scrape the dough out of the bowl, and roll it around in some more flour. Bonus points for folding it a bit and ending up with a nice round ball shape. Rice flour is excellent for this part of the process, because it gives the loaf a nice golden outer crust. Put the dough back in the bowl under the tea towel for about another hour.
Finally, the baking. Put a cast iron pot with lid in the oven and preheat to 250°C. If your oven won’t go that high, just put it on maximum. Once oven and pot are nice and hot, wrangle the dough into it, put the lid on, and bake for 35-45 minutes. I usually set a timer for 35 minutes, then pull the bread out and stab it with a knife to see if it’s done. If the knife comes out clean, you’re good. If there’s a bit of sticky stuff on the knife, return the bread to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
Once it’s done, take the loaf out and let it cool on a rack for a little while, then eat and enjoy!