Bread has been the foundation of the human diet for millions of cultures for thousands of years. Here in the US, the tradition of baking bread daily has largely died in favor of the convenience of the grocery store. Most of what you can buy in the store these days, however, is not actual bread. It may have started that way but in the process of industrializing, and then later fortifying the bread-like product that now lines our shelves is nothing like the original bread that we are used to eating. It’s for this reason I have started to learn make baking bread more of a habit around our house.
Eventually, I’d like to replace all the store bought stuff completely, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s baby steps around here. Besides, who doesn’t love the smell of fresh bread filling the house? Chuck has been a big fan.
This recipe is probably one of the easiest that I have made recently, it’s very basic which makes it approachable, but it comes out fabulously. The outside is textured and crusty while the inside is light and fluffy. Together, this combination is unstoppable. The soft inside makes a great sandwich bread, but the crusty outside is great for serving with dinner. Versatility makes it an all-around winner in my book.
Note: I like to use a mixture of whole wheat and white flour, because I like the texture. Feel free to experiment with different flour combinations to see what you like.
- 4 cups flour + ½ or less cup for kneading
- 2 tablespoons active yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups warm water
- 1½ Tablespoons salt
- Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes. The combination should become foamy, if that does not happen the yeast may be dean and you should start over.
- In a separate bowl sift together the flour and salt.
- Stir the yeast mixture and add the flour mixture in one cup at a time while stirring until the dough comes together in a ball.
- Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Move the dough to a lightly floured bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Place it in a warm spot for 30 minutes to an hour. While the dough rises preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the Dutch oven inside.
- Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the preheated oven and remove the top. Gently remove the risen dough from the bowl and lightly coat it with flour. Form it to the desired shape and carefully drop it into the Dutch oven.
- If you want an artisan look you can cut a few slits in the top of the dough. Cover and place in the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden brown.
- Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and place on a cutting board to cool.
- Serve at will.