Who doesn't want to learn how to bake bread?  And who is terrified of making it?  It always seems like such a process! And I even have this book, The Break Baker's Apprentice, that's supposed to make it so much less overwhelming.  BUT ... ALAS!  A simple recipe does exist ... and this recipe is going to give you a new outlook on baking bread.   This isn't some bland, boring bread, either.  It's real bread (and I'm a bread snob - when I moved to Birmingham 16 years ago, I would bring bread home with me from Atlanta when I'd visit).  It makes fabulous toast, awesome grilled cheese sammies and the very best crostini, when sliced real thin and topped with olive oil, goat cheese from Belle Chèvre and prosciutto.

The book, by the way, is THE best book for anyone wanting to learn to bake bread.  It's got great step by step instructions and it takes the time to explain the science of it all - and bread baking truly is a "science".

YES!  That's all there is!!
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
1¼ teaspoon table salt
1½ cups water


(1)  Whisk flour, yeast and salt in a bowl.

(2)  Gradually add the water.  You will have a wet, sticky dough.  Don't flip out - It's supposed to be like this.

(3)  Cover the bowl with a tea bowl and let it rest in a warm place for 12 hours (and up to 24 hours).  The tough will rise a bit and you will know it's ready when you see bubbles all over the surface.

(4)  Flour a work surface with your handy work surface flour-er, and dump the bread out onto the surface.  Sprinkle a little flour over it and fold it over once or twice on itself.  Cover with a tea towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.  

(5)  Flour your hands just enough to keep the dough from sticking, and using your hands, shape the dough into a ball.

(6)  Coat a cotton towel with finely ground cornmeal, and place the dough ball in the middle of the towel, seam side tucked under, and cover and let it right for about 2 additional hours.  You will see that the dough will double in size.  

(7)  About half an hour before the dough is ready, heat an oven to 450F and put an 8 qt cast iron pot or dutch oven in the oven to heat.  When the dough is ready, turn it out, into the pot, seam side up.  Shake the pot so the bread settles evenly.  

(8)  Bake the bread for 30 minutes with the lid on.  Remove the lid for the last 15-30 minutes.  The bread is ready when it is nicely browned.  

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