Super-Easy Home-Baked Bread

“Oh, but the carbs!” I hear you scream. Yes, the carbs. But I am going to post this recipe here regardless, just because I am currently in love with this bread. And because I am thinking that even a weight-loss diet can do with some nice bread. It just means you limit yourself to 1 slice a day, not 4 😉

So, to get to the recipe, let me start by saying that I grew up in a country where bread is one of the specialities. According to reliable sources [German, but major national broadsheet], Germany’s bakeries create 3,200 different varieties of bread. I have always loved bread. Nothing beats a slice of freshly baked yeast or sourdough loaf topped with melting butter. And once I learnt how to bake yeast loaves at a cookery class at the age of 14, I was off, much to the astonishment of my mother who was always “scared of” yeast doughs.

Emigrating to a country with little to no bread culture at all – I struggle with the concoctions they sell here as “bread” – I invested early into a bread machine and produced no-fuss yeast loaves with seeds and grains for several years. Unfortunately my predominantly Irish family prefers the puffy shop-bought variety, though, and with myself on low-carb diets for the better part of the last 10 years, my bread baking efforts lay idle.

That is until I discovered this super-easy home-bake bread the other day. It involves no kneading – thus is perfect for the type of cook/baker who doesn’t like to get their hands dirty. The bread turns out super-crispy and has been perfect every time I have baked it. You only need four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water. What makes the bread special, however, is the way it is baked. Let’s go through it step-by-step.

Ingredients:

450g plain flour

400ml lukewarm water

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry yeast

Procedure:

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the salt and the yeast first. Then add the water. There is enough water here to allow you mixing it with a spoon, making any kneading unnecessary. The dough should have a soft, runny consistency.

Once it all has been mixed properly, cover the bowl with cling-film or a clean tea towel and leave the dough to rise. This will take 6 to 8 hours, so you don’t necessarily have to leave the bowl in a warm place.

After a minimum of 6 hours, the dough should have at least doubled in size and have lots of air bubbles visible on the surface. Now place a large piece of non-stick baking paper on your table-top and sprinkle it generously with flour. Use a spatula to pour the dough from the bowl onto the paper. Clean out as much of the dough from the bowl as you can – because you are going to use the bowl again in a second. Use the spatula to fold the soft, runny dough in on itself, again and again, picking up the flour as you do so, working it in and turning the dough from runny into elastic. When the dough doesn’t pick up any more flour, make sure it is positioned in the centre of the baking paper. Pick up the paper at all four corners and transfer it with the dough into your bowl. Cover again with cling-film or tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

Now comes the crucial part: For this bread to turn out crispy and golden brown, you need a particular set-up. The bread is baked in a “Dutch Oven“, essentially a cast-iron casserole. I do not have such a thing, but I have an oven-proof Pyrex bowl with lid that does the same trick. I prefer a round casserole because it results in a perfectly round bread. So set your oven to gas mark 8/220°C/450F and place the casserole with lid on in the oven. It is essential that the lidded casserole heats up while your bread is still rising.

Once your bread is ready to bake, carefully remove the casserole from the oven (don’t forget it is HOT!!!!), remove the lid and place the dough as it is, i.e. with the baking paper, in the casserole. Replace the lid and put the casserole in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. By this time your bread will have nicely risen again. The top crust will have split, and it is now a golden colour. Now remove the lid from the casserole and continue baking for a further 15 minutes.

The resulting bread is golden brown in colour with a crispy crust thanks to the intense heat. Inside the bread is nicely airy. It is soft and fluffy but not too crumbly. And absolutely delicious.

A sure way to impress! I hope you give it a try.

ETA Update:

After Zee mentioned wholemeal in the comments, I decided to give it a try myself. First off: The results are great. This type of bread, or rather: the process used to make it, lend themselves perfectly for whole meal. In fact, this is probably the best result I have ever received when using any kind of coarse flour for bread.

Essentially, I replaced 100g of the wheat flour with 100g of wheat GERM! When mixing in the water, I noticed that the dough was much drier, so I added 100ml of water extra. This resulted in a soft, runny dough. It didn’t rise quite as much as the plain wheat flour, but it *did* rise and had the required air bubbles on the surface after 6 to 8 hours of rising. I baked it otherwise as stated in the recipe above, and it came out with a nice crust. However, when cut, even though it was baked inside, the bread still felt a tiny bit sticky, so I would advise baking this 10 minutes longer. For ease of use I am leaving the adjusted recipe below.

Ingredients:

350g plain flour

100g wheat germ

500ml lukewarm water

1 tbsp coarse salt

1/2 tsp dry yeast

Procedure:

In a large bowl, combine the flour and germ with the salt and the yeast first. Then add the water. There is enough water here to allow you mixing it with a spoon, making any kneading unnecessary. The dough should have a soft, runny consistency.

Once it all has been mixed properly, cover the bowl with cling-film or a clean tea towel and leave the dough to rise. This will take 6 to 8 hours, so you don’t necessarily have to leave the bowl in a warm place.

Place a large piece of non-stick baking paper on your table-top and sprinkle it generously with flour. Use a spatula to pour the dough from the bowl onto the paper. Use the spatula to fold the soft, runny dough in on itself, again and again, picking up the flour as you do so, working it in and turning the dough from runny into elastic. When the dough doesn’t pick up any more flour, make sure it is positioned in the centre of the baking paper. Pick up the paper at all four corners and transfer it with the dough into your bowl. Cover again with cling-film or tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

Set your oven to gas mark 8/220°C/450F and place a casserole/dutch oven with lid on in the oven. It is essential that the lidded casserole heats up while your bread is still rising.

Once your bread is ready to bake, carefully remove the casserole from the oven (don’t forget it is HOT!!!!), remove the lid and place the dough as it is, i.e. with the baking paper, in the casserole. Replace the lid and put the casserole in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. By this time your bread will have nicely risen again. The top crust will have split, and it is now a golden colour. Now remove the lid from the casserole and continue baking for a further 25 minutes.

 

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26 thoughts on “Super-Easy Home-Baked Bread

  1. There is no such thing as eating only ONE SLICE of warm bread. Nope.

    I wonder how this will do with whole wheat flour??? See, I ADORE bread, I miss it more than I miss rice or pasta. OR potatoes. Really.

    I wonder if a THICK slice of bread counts as one slice of bread….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries girl, I’m not sure how to cook anything, so I don’t know what most of these things are anyway. I might give it a try if I can get time and will let you know what sort of disaster comes out. 🍞🥖🍞

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      2. I will let you know if I get time to try this, I am sort of curious to see if I can do it, but I’m pretty sure it will be a disaster. You know I’ve burned boiled eggs on multiple occasions right?

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      3. Oh damn, I was rummaging around in the fridge after work last night hoping there was some almonds left to put in yogurt when I remembered, I’ve never had a working oven in this house. Hubs bought this house when I was out of town in 1993 and the oven/stove and a variety of other things never worked right. We just never replaced the oven. It turns on, but doesn’t reliably heat up or if it does, heats up too high. So we sometimes use it to warm something but you have to keep an eye on whatever you put in there so it doesn’t burn to a crisp. Mostly we don’t use it, can’t tell you how many complaints my siblings and culinary skilled friends have had. While visiting in May of 2009, one of my sisters, in utter frustration, convinced her fireman hubs to take my hubs to where ever they sell stove tops to buy a replacement for the none working one on the island in my kitchen. She wanted to cook stuff and couldn’t believe we could live here without a stove for so long. 🍳 I know, I am a sad example of domesticity. 😊

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      4. We have a big toaster oven, so toast and microwave, so soup, a rice cooker that I learned how to use and I put veggies in with the rice, (my dogs and hubs like that) an electric tea kettle so hot cocoa for hubs, blender for fancy smoothies, and two coffee machines. Salads , yogurt, cottage cheese, veggies and fruit don’t need to be cooked. Hubs and I love frozen fruit and nuts in yogurt. But plain yogurt is good too. I like carrots and celery, but hubs only eats them if I buy blue cheese dressing to eat them with. AnneElizabeth sent a butt-load of candy w/thank you in August and so we have had Hot Tamales, gummy 🐛worms and bears to snack on. Hubs likes milk and cereal so we always have a lot of cereals in the pantry. My dogs also like sliced roast beef, so I buy that and oh I forgot peanut butter. We have made peanut butter jam sandwiches forever. Sometimes I would forget and not eat anything or only eat half of one when the store was open. I really never out of peanut butter jam sandwiches. Tons of food to eat without ever having to cook. We don’t go hungry.

        🥦🥬🥒🌶🥕🍇🍓🍉🍌🍒🥝 🍎

        If you could see my big butt, you would know it’s true cause people who like big butts can’t lie. 🎶 (That’s a joke. Heh)

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      5. 😂Well done Mimi. Tbh, that is exactly the kind of food I would be living on if I didn’t have a couple of kids to look after… I am so not a cook, and prefer quick solutions.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Luckily, the Hubs doesn’t care if I have or use any domestic skills. 🍌🍇 Which reminds me, he bought a bunch of 🍇 grapes and now that the ones our neighbor gave us are all gone, I think it’s time for a grape snack. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

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