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UPDATE: This recipe has been updated and moved to the new Culinary Savant website!
http://culinarysavant.com/recipes/basic-crusty-bread

My Recipes and Cooking Info

Tim's Head Basic Crusty Bread
December 1, 2006

This is a very basic bread recipe that makes a couple of small loaves of rustic and crusty bread, sort of like an Italian bread. It's pretty easy to make, and the ingredients are very basic. The main ingredients being flour, yeast, salt and water.

Although I used a stand mixer in this recipe, it is not required. You can, and I have before, do the mixing and kneeding by hand. It just takes a little more work and time.

Ingredients:

2 cups Bread Flour
¾ cup Distilled Water
1 tsp Yeast
½ tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Olive Oil


Cost to Make ($0.31 per Loaf):

28¢    Bread Flour
8¢    Distilled Water ($1.79/gallon)
13¢    Yeast
1¢    Sugar
2¢    Salt
10¢    Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Basic Instructions:
  1. Measure off ¾ cup of distilled water. But only pour a little of it into your mixing bowl. Then stir in the ½ tsp Sugar, and then add the 1 tsp of yeast and stir a little.
  2. After 10 minutes the yeast should have "bloomed" (got foamy). Now add the 1 tsp Olive Oil, 1 tsp Salt (bread needs salt for taste!) and the 2 cups of Bread Flour.
  3. Put the mixing paddle on your mixer and mix for a little bit (usually just a minute or two).
  4. Then replace the mixing paddle with the "dough hook", and let it kneed the dough for another 10 minutes. (If no mixer kneed by hand 15 to 20 minutes)
  5. Place dough ball in a bowl lightly lubed with olive oil, cover, and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes. I do this in my un-lit oven.
  6. After 60 to 90 minutes the dough should be twice the size. Dump the dough out on to a board, punch it down, and cut in two.
  7. Form each piece into a loaf by rolling it up and pinching the seams together. Then roll on the board some more, and cover (seam down). Let loave(s) rise again for another hour.
  8. Pre-heat your oven to 450° degrees. (A high temp makes for a nice crust)
  9. Now that the loave(s) have risen again, slide them onto the pre-heated stone in your oven (or put the baking sheet in now), and bake at 450° for 20 minutes.
  10. Let the loaves cool for 30 minutes or more before cutting into them.
Now onto the pictures for the rest! Woo.

The ingredients are pretty simple. ¾ cup distilled water, 1 tsp dry active yeast, ½ tsp sugar (to help the yeast), 1 tsp salt (bread needs salt for taste), 1 tsp Olive Oil and 2 cups unbleached Bread Flour.
Note: We're using only "distilled water" here. Tap water has chlorine in it, and that would kill the yeast. You can try tap water, but if your yeast doesn't "bloom" and get foamy (like in the 3rd photo) you'll need to get some distilled water.

First add just a little (maybe ¼ cup) of the distilled water to your mixing bowl. Then add the ½ tsp of sugar, this will give the yeast something to eat and help them "bloom". Finally, add in the 1 tsp of yeast. Then give it a little stir, cover the bowl, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

If your yeast are alive it should have gotten foamy (place your mouse over the image to see a larger version!). I've gotten a bad envelope or two when using the Instant Yeast in packets, so "proofing" your yeast makes sure your yeast is alive.

Now add in the 1 tsp of salt and the 1 tsp of Olive Oil.

Then add in your 2 cups of Bread Flour.

Finally we add in the rest of the ¾ cup of water.
Then put the mixing paddle on and mix for a few minutes. (If you don't have a stand mixer, mix it all together well in your bowl with a wooden spoon)

After mixing put the kneeding hook on and kneed the dough for another 10 minutes. (If you don't have a stand mixer kneed by hand for 15 to 20 minutes on a lightly floured board)

Now lightly oil a bowl (I use olive oil for everything (except for brownies, don't do that.. I won't again anyway, heh..)) and place the dough ball in it.
Cover the bowl and place it in your unlit oven for 60 to 90 minutes, 90 minutes is better.

After 90 minutes your dough ball should have risen to twice it's size. Woo?

Now we cut the dough ball in two and punch each piece down nice and flat. Then we roll each piece up into a cylinder.

Pinch the seams good, and roll the loaf some more under your fingers. Then place the loaves (seam down) to rise again for 60 minutes.
Note: I lightly dusted my peel/board with cornmeal so my loaf will easily slide off onto the baking stone in my oven. You might also use semolina for this too.

Now cut 5 equal ½ inch deep cuts on each loaf. Then slide the loaf into your 450° pre-heated oven to bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes at 450° your loaves should be ready to go. They will sound sort of hollow if you thump the bottom with your finger.
Let them cool for at least an hour before cutting into them though! You've done well grasshopper, you're now ready to make a sub sandwich or slice them up on the bias and make garlic bread. Woo?
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