Ah, bread. Quarantine’s lovechild. Whether you’ve been nursing a sourdough mother or perfecting the art of a cheesy garlic knot, it seems everyone nowadays is channeling their favorite carb for comfort. I, too, decided to try my hand at this challenge, and after weeks of research and many long hours bingeing the Food Network, I have mastered the art of the perfect loaf of bread.
Now, please understand: I am no chef. Before lockdown, the closest I had come to culinary stardom was baking prepackaged cookie dough at midnight under dim lamplight. So when I pulled this out of the oven, my family was surprised, to say the least— especially considering they were placing bets on me burning down the kitchen. You have my word: this recipe will not disappoint. Consider this your official guide to beginner-chef success.
- 1 tablespoon active rise yeast
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 cups water (heated to just under 110℉)
- 5 cups flour
- Cornmeal (enough to generously coat a cookie sheet)
- You’re going to want to start by combining the yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Heat your water to just about 110℉ and add it to the dry mix. Stir gently (too hard or fast will make your yeast angry) and let sit until the yeast is completely dissolved.
- Once you have your water/yeast mixture, slowly pour in your flour (I typically add in a cup at a time)— this is when you will feel the dough beginning to form.
- Once you have added all of your flour, empty the dough onto a (clean) floured surface. Knead the dough for around ~3-5 minutes. You’ll know you’re done when the dough feels “silky” (my aunt taught me this— trust me, you’ll know it when you feel it).
- Form the dough into a big ball and place it back in your bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise for about 2 hours. By this time, it should double in size (expert tip— if your dough is having trouble rising, place it in your oven over a pot of boiling water).
- Now you’re going to knead, again, for another ~3-5 minutes. Generously coat a baking sheet with cornmeal and place your dough in the center. If you want to get really fancy, you can score it a few times for a professional look.
- Now here is the important part: put your dough into a cold oven— this prevents any cracking when baking. Set your timer for 5 minutes. Use this time to boil some water, which you will place in a shallow pan beneath your bread as it cooks. Preheat your oven to 400℉ and bake for ~35-40 minutes.
And voilà! You have the perfect loaf of bread. I recommend letting it sit for a few minutes before serving, that way it is still warm, but doesn’t completely burn the inside of everyone’s mouth. Now enjoy! Grab a slice, smother it in butter, and crown yourself kitchen royalty.
And if all else fails, those cookies in the fridge only take, like, 15 minutes max.