Our Daily Bread
For a couple of years now I’ve been baking all our family bread. It’s intensely satisfying, and the bread tastes much better than store-bought. My usual recipe produces two sandwich-style loaves at a time.
Bread never tastes better than when it’s fresh from the oven, so recently I’ve been trying an experiment: baking a small loaf every day to serve with supper. I’ve found that it’s very easy and, as I’d hoped, tastes delicious.
Here is my method. It follows the no-knead, wet-dough philosophy that’s become so popular (with good reason) among home bread-bakers.
In the morning: In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix 1 cup bread flour (about 5 oz.), about 1/2 tsp. salt, and a large pinch of rapid-rise yeast. Add 1/2 cup water. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Cover and set aside for 8 hours or more.
In the evening: The dough should have risen and will probably have some visible bubbles. Preheat the oven to 400°. Turn the dough onto a small greased pan (I use a metal pie pan). Do not punch it down— just get the blob of dough onto the pan with as little disturbance as possible. Put it in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
The usual caveats and variations: Oven temperatures vary; you may need to tweak time and temperature to get the result you want. You can substitute any proportion of whole-wheat flour for white, though if you use more than about 1/3 whole-wheat flour your loaf will be denser.
Recently I got a kitchen scale and have been amazed at the variability of “one cup flour”: a given volume can vary in weight by as much as a third depending on how tightly-packed the flour is. So I’ve taken to weighing out my quantities. The current formula is 150 grams flour to 125 grams water or, for a smaller mini-loaf, 100 grams flour to 85 grams water.