Sim’s Personal Bread Recipe
3 1/2 cups flour (in various combinations)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups water
Mix all of that together in a bowl, cover it and let ir rise for 3 hours.
Knead the crap out of it, then shape it into you loaf shape. I like round. I shape it on a board dusted with flour, and then let jot rise in a bowl or basket that has either been dusted with flour, corn meal, sprayed with oil, or lined with a floured cloth. All of these work a little different, and it kind of depends on what works best for you. Let it rise for an hour and an half.
I preheat my over to 500 degrees. I bake on either a pizza stone, or in a large dutch oven, depending on the bread shape, and how I want the crust to come out. So, as you preheat your over, preheat the thing that you are going to bake your bread in/on.
Take your pizza stone or dutch over out of the over. It should been hotter than you want to deal with, and you will hurt yourself badly. Remember later, that your baking scars are a mark of merit and worth. Be proud.
Carefully place your risen and shaped dough into, or on your pizza stone or dutch oven. This is your chance to get all fancy, scoring the top with a sharp serrated knife, or better still, a razor. make it pretty, people will be impressed.
In your are baking on a pizza stone, drop the heat to 450, and bake for 45 minutes. You can also place a small pirex or stoneware ramekin of water in the over to help develop a crustier load, or don’t, for a chewier crust.
In a dutch oven, bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then reduce the temperature to 450, and do 15 with the lid off.
Let the bread cool on a rack for a few minutes. You will burn yourself again, taking it out, but the pain is nothing when in the presence of freshly baked bread.
The night before you want to bake, take 1/2 cup of flour, and 1/2 of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of yeast, and mix them in a bowl. This will allow all kinds of delightful sciency things to happen, that develop flavor. Then, reduce your recipe by those amounts, and mix your pre-fermented glop back in.
In you are making whole wheat, rye, or some other more interesting kind of bread, consider doing this pre-ferment with that flour. For example, for rye bread, mix 1/2 cup of rye flour with 1/2 cup of water. and a half teaspoon of yeast/ 12-18 hours later, mix that with 3 cups of bread or all purpose flour, 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of yeast, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (I use kosher). Also, throw in a couple teaspoons of toasted caraway seeds, because it is better that way. Then follow the basic instructions. You will be happy. Whole wheat, and even more interesting white bread use the same method, just without the seeds. Well, maybe sesame seeds, but, only if you are into that.
Also, you can pre-ferment more of your dough, for more interesting textures and flavors. You don’t even have to add the yeast in the pre-ferment. It is less predictable that way, but if you want predictable, you would not be making those awesome baker’s burn scars.
Recipe Submitted by Simeon