When it comes to home baked bread, I suck! The bread comes out dense and flat....I have good yeast, bread flour....I don't know what the problem is. Is it the room temperature so the bread isn't rising during the given time? Am I kneading it wrong? Argh!! Its too stressful. Untiiiiil.... I was turned onto this recipe by a very sweet lady in BakeSpace named Ronda. This bread is idiot proof! PERFECT!!!
3 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Covered pot (5 quart or larger...cast iron, pyrex, ceramic, enamel...something that can to into a 450' oven.)
The night before, combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. It will be a shaggy, doughy mess (if you don't know what that means, its ok cuz neither did I until I actually did it. It perfectly describes what the dough looks like). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on the countertop.
The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly:
With a wet spatula, dump the dough unto a floured surface. (I prefer one of those thin flexible plastic cutting boards). Fold the ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape:
You can use your hands if you want; just keep your hands wet so that the dough doesn't stick. Trust me...the wet spatula works fine!
Cover the dough with a cotton towel (not terry cloth). Let it nap for 2 hours. When you have about 30 minutes left, put your covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450' F.
Now that the 2 hour nap time has passed, your dough should have doubled in size. Remove pot from oven. Dump your wobbly dough into the pot. It doesn't matter which way it lands. Shake it a little to even the dough out. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake an additional 15 - 20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and the middle is 210'. Remove and let cool on wired rack.
You can actually hear the crust crackle as it cools! Oh man..and the smell.... pure heaven.
Now spread that slice with a little butter. Talk about comfort food!!