Simple Crusty Bread
Makes: 4 loaves
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Resting and Rising Time: 3 hours or more
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 cups of lukewarm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar
6 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
Cornmeal for dusting
1 cup hot water for baking
- In a large bowl or pot, combine yeast, water and sugar. Mix well and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Once the yeast is foamy, sift flour and salt into the yeast mixture. Mix well until there are no dry patches with a wooden spatula.
- Loosely cover with plastic and let rise in a warm spot or room temperature for 2 hours.
- Sprinkle cornmeal over pizza peel and set this aside.
- After 2 hours, punch the dough down. Sprinkle some flour on top and with a sharp knife; divide the dough into 4 equal portions.
- With well floured hands, take each portion of the dough and try to shape as round on the top as possible by stretching and gathering the dough to the bottom. Place this on the prepared pizza peel. Do the same with the remaining 3 dough and let rest for 40 minutes.
- Place a broiler pan in the bottom rack and pizza stone in the middle rack of the oven and turn on the oven to 450 degrees F. Let it heat for at least 20 minutes.
- Once the dough has been rested for 40 minutes, sprinkle little flour and slash the top 3 times with very sharp knife. Transfer onto the stone. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler pan and close the oven door quickly to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
- Sliding all 4 dough from pizza peel to the stone is difficult. Remove the stone from the oven and transfer one at a time. Take one dough, reshape it a little and drop it onto the stone.
- Be very careful and wear an oven mitt while pouring hot water into the broiler pan.