I can never understand why people are always so impressed when I tell them that I almost always bake my own bread. It's as if they think I am master baker or a housewife from some bygone era that is just chained to the kitchen all day! Nothing could be further from the truth. My fool-proof bread recipe is quick, easy and virtually impossible to screw up. It's a very unorthodox method that will have most bread bakers cringing, but it works for me every time...so why fuss about if you don't have to? Give it a try, you too may start baking bread on a regular basis.
3c white flour (plus extra for kneading)
1 pinch sugar
3 pinches salt
warm water (enough to form a ball of dough)
Toss all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and give them a quick whisk. Now slowly stir in enough water to turn the flour into the consistency of a ball of play dough. I use my hands for this. Don't worry if you added too much water, just simply mix in a bit more flour.
Once the dough ball has formed turn it out onto a floured counter and begin to knead it. If the dough is still a bit sticky just dust an little flour onto it and continue kneading until the dough feels smooth and pillowy. This usually takes about 5 minutes or so. Now just pop the dough ball back into the mixing bowl. Cover and let it rise in your oven with the light on (DO NOT TURN ON THE HEAT) until it has doubled in size. This usually takes about an hour or so.
Once doubled remove it from the oven. Uncover and just take your fist and and give the dough a punch. Take the dough out of the bowl and shape it any way you'd like. Round, oval, braided, heart shaped ect.
Sit it on a cookie sheet that is dusted with a bit of flour and let it rise in the oven again until it has doubled in size. Usually about another hour or so.
Once doubled remove it from the oven and turn the oven to 350 degrees. Once pre-heated place the bread on the center rack and bake for about an hour or until it looks slightly browned. I like to take it off the pan with an oven-mit and give it a tap on the bottom. If it sounds hollow then you you know it's ready. If you hear a thud just pop it back into the oven and allow it to bake for a few more minutes.
That's it... you're done! Easy peasy. Be sure to let it cool before slicing.
The active prep time to make this bread is minimal. I run errands or do things around the house while I'm waiting for it to rise. So really, this takes no time at all! This is just my most basic recipe, but as you get more comfortable making bread dough there are an infinite amount of variations on this simple recipe. I'll be sure to post them for you in the future.
Tip- You can use a mix of half whole wheat and half white flour if you'd like.