So I’ve been bitten by the bread making bug lately. I’ve never been much of a baker, telling myself it’s too rigid and the recipes aren’t as open to flying by the seat of my pants, which is how many of my recipes are created. But the weather has turned cold and for some reason, I just decided to start trying my hand at it. If you haven’t made a loaf of fresh bread, I highly recommend it. There is something so satisfying about the structure of the recipe, the resting, the leavening, and the rising. And if you’ve never smelled fresh bread baking, you are definitely missing out on one of the finest smells of all times.
But there isn’t always time for a recipe that takes hours of resting and rising and at least a partially watchful eye. Even if most of a traditional recipe is inactive time, you still have to make sure you’re punching down and forming and resting at certain times.
Well, enter the easiest and quite possibly, one of the most impressive bread recipes of all times. Sure, there are plenty of no-knead, 5-minute recipes online, and this is another one of them. But sometimes, that’s just what you need!
Here’s the basics of this recipe – you mix the ingredients in a bowl and then let them sit overnight. You wake up the next morning, turn on the oven and heat your pan, throw the bread in, and then end up with a gorgeous loaf of bread. Seriously. I kicked up this loaf with some fresh rosemary, cracked smoked peppercorns, and Stilton cheese, but that’s only one of a hundred variations you could try. I’m thinking a nice Asiago sundried tomato loaf is next, and I’ve got some herbed feta in the fridge that is dying to be used. I may also try my hand at a dried cranberry with fresh orange zest loaf. But if you’re not into those flavors, make a simple unflavored loaf. Even the plain version is quite spectacular on its own. Regardless of what flavor you make it, I guarantee you’ll never forget this loaf. And think of how awesome you’ll look when you start passing out loaves of fresh bread for holiday gifts!
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp active yeast
1 1/2 cup room temperature water
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp freshly cracked peppercorns (I used smoked peppercorns just for fun)
4 oz crumbled Stilton cheese (or any old blue will do)
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together. Whisk in fresh rosemary and peppercorns. Stir in cheese. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water. Using a spatula, mix well until mixture looks like rough mess of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 12-18 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a large cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat for 30 minutes. (If you don't have a cast iron pot, you can use any 4-5 qt oven safe dish with a lid. Corningware, a crockpot insert with a lid, a baking stone with an upside down bowl over it - these will all work). While pan is heating, dump dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a nice ball. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. After pot has heated, remove from oven and lower parchment paper with dough into pot. Place lid on pot and return to oven. Bake 35 minutes. Remove lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack. Slice and enjoy!!