This bread is proof that some of our best successes can come after making a mistake. I came up with this recipe after misreading an interesting recipe for French Bread I found, and instead of throwing out two and a half cups of flour mixed with water, I decided to improvise and see where it went. I’m so glad I did, because not only is it super tasty, but it’s unlike most bread recipes. It has really good flavor, and has both a crusty edge and fluffy interior. I make this bread a couple times a week.
2.5 cups bread flour (the higher gluten content is better for bread baking)
1 cup 78 degree water
1 tbsp 110 degree water
2 and 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1.5 tsp kosher salt
How to Make the Best Bread Ever:
Combine flour and 78 degree water in a stand mixer with the dough hook, and mix on low for 4 minutes until the dough comes together into a shaggy mass. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes with the bowl covered.
Stir the yeast with the 110 degree water, and add the yeasty paste to the dough mass. Knead for 3 minutes on medium low, sprinkle the salt, then knead for 5 more minutes. Take the dough out and put onto a floured work surface, knead for one more minute by hand, then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes.
Roll the dough out a bit into a long rope and start pulling on both ends to stretch the dough out. Make sure all parts of the dough are stretched out, then knead it back into a smooth ball, and let it rise on the counter, covered with a damp towel, for an hour and a half (or until it doubles in size). Doubling time depends on how warm your room is (this is based on a 75 degree F room).
Now it’s time to shape the dough. Shape it however you’d like, and place the dough on a baking sheet, and let rise for another hour, keeping it covered with a wet towel.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, then put a sheet pan in the lowest shelf of the oven and fill with water to keep your oven nice and moist while the bread bakes. Use a spray bottle to spray the walls of the oven with water as well. Put the bread in and bake for 20 minutes, until the inside of the loaf is 200 degrees F. Remove the bread from the sheet pan and cool on a wire rack. I recommend you eat some of the bread hot out of the oven with some salted whipped butter. After all, that’s why we make it at home, right?