- No more mixing up bread dough just because you want fresh baked bread.
- No digging around to find your pizza or breadstick recipe…this dough is ultra versatile, and ready to go when you are!
- No special ingredients or complicated processes
- Practically no dishes to wash…
- and best of all…no kneading!
Really and truly! The trick is a cold, long fermenting time for the dough, which develops the flavors and gluten, breaks down the carbs…
Wait. You just want to know the really important stuff, right? OK…Easy, delicious and versatile.
AND, for all of you Trim & Healthy folks out there, this is a REAL sourdough, E recipe…Pearl approved and everything. Really!
And it’s delicious. It’s the perfect texture for french toast and bruschetta, with a thin crisp/chewy crust; the inside is soft with just a bit of chew. Cold fermentation prevents it from souring, so you’re not going to get a true sourdough flavor with this method.
If you LIKE the sour, you can let it sit out overnight or for up to 24 hours, and then stick it in the fridge.
Did I mention that it’s really, really good? OK.
Just so you know.
It is. REALLY, really good!
I keep a batch in the fridge at all times now. Mostly, it’s used to make pizza, because it’s the most amazing pizza crust we’ve ever had. Take out is forever ruined in a really good way.
Meal planning is so much easier since I’ve found this easy bread
recipe. I have started branching out, and now I use it for pizza crust, dinner rolls, french bread, pepperoni bread, bread sticks…you get the idea. And don’t even get me started on the toppings!
Pass the butter.
What You’ll Knead…or not!
Wonka! Wonka! OK, let’s take a minute to talk about equipment for this easy bread recipe: you’ll need a large container (5 quarts/20 cups/1 gallon) with a lid to mix up and store your dough. Since I am now officially addicted to this bread, I bought a large glass ‘cookie jar’ canister at Wally World for $7 because it’s pretty and it stands upright in my fridge to save room. (Had to flip the lid over to get it to fit.) This is the ONE gallon size.
When I first started making this kind of bread, I just used a bowl with plastic wrap or lid, and then switched to a non-holey plastic tub that my salad mix came in. You can also use a big plastic storage container, just make sure not to seal the lid so the gasses can escape.
For baking your bread, it’s really nice to have a pizza peel, parchment paper and a baking stone…these are standard equipment here for pizza night. You can’t beat this pair for baking crispy crusts, and for transferring bread dough easily in and out of the oven.
In fact, I leave my pizza stone in the oven almost all the time, and just put cookie sheets right on top of it. It ain’t purdy, but it gives nice even heat. You can find these at Target and kitchen stores for not much money. If you don’t have a peel or stone, then you can use a cookie sheet turned upside down so you’ll have a flat surface to bake on. All this will make more sense further down when we talk about baking.
And finally, you’ll need some TIME. This easy bread recipe is broken down into two parts:
- mixing the dough
- and then baking.
The time you’ll spend in total is just a few minutes to prep the dough and form the bread. But you’ll want to allow enough time for the dough to rise, rest, and develop good flavor. Here is the time frame that I usually use:
- I start by making the dough the night before, or first thing in the morning if I plan on baking a loaf of bread for dinner.
- If you’re working on getting trim & healthy, then plan ahead to get at least 3 days of fermentation in, and for best results go for 5-7 days. Friday is my day to make pizza and make fresh dough. Picking one day a week to have a special E bread meal is a great way to keep up with your dough making.
- Rising takes a couple of hours. (I pop it in the fridge just before climbing in bed.) Then it just sits in there doing its thing until the next pizza night rolls around. Or until I make bean soup and foccacia bread.
- Technically, you can start baking right after the dough has risen, but it’s really soft and sticky, and it’s easier to work with if you let it chill thoroughly…at least 3 hours.
- From fridge to stove for loaves of bread, it takes about an hour and you’re in homemade bakery heaven. For pizza or foccacia, I’m talkin’ about half an hour to dinner!
Let’s get to it!
Mix it UP!
First, pour in your three cups of water. I live in the deep south, so there I use room temp water all year ’round. If you’re from Alaska or the UP <Hi Yoopers!> then you may be inclined to warm your water up just a little to make your yeast happier.
There is no need to rinse your bowl out between batches if you’ve kept it refrigerated…the dough bits that are left in there will help make your next batch rise faster. We’ll call it a ‘starter’
(Note to self…I don’t even have to wash the bowl! Dance of joy!)
Next, add 2 packets or 1 1/2 T of yeast…
1 1/2 T salt,…
and 6 1/2 cups of flour. Your flour should probably look healthier than mine.
Now mix it all together with a wooden spoon.
You want a loose, wet dough with no dry spots. Like this:
Just mixed, one hour later, and two hours later.
Bake that Easy Bread Dough!
So, let’s bake up a loaf of bread. You’ll want to get your dough out and shape it at least an hour before you’re ready to eat it.
The dough is very soft and wet. I find that wetting my hands is really helpful when shaping it.
Cut or tear off a grapefruit sized hunk of bread dough. The shaping isn’t an art form, so don’t get frustrated by the gooey dough.
Gently stretch it into shape, smoothing out on the top layer into a ‘gluten cloak’. It doesn’t need to look perfect. In fact, there is no way that it will look decent at this stage…just get it into the general shape you want. Here is a quick video about shaping the bread:
You don’t want to manhandle or overwork the dough. It needs to stay sticky and retain all those beautiful air bubbles as much as possible. It will rise up and become beautiful in the oven. Promise.
When the oven is heated, and the bread is done resting (it won’t have risen much at this point), you’ll want to cut a few slits in the top to allow the gasses in the baking bread to escape. Otherwise, your bread will get an unsightly blowout. Use a very sharp knife or a clean razor blade, and cut a few slashes, an X or a long slit.
I like to top my bread with more of the kosher salt at this point too.
Now slide the parchment paper that’s holding your loaf of bread right onto the sizzling hot baking stone.
- 3 c. warm water
- 1 ½ T. kosher or coarse salt
- 6½ c. of flour (can be white, fresh ground whole, or anything in between)
- 1½ T. instant/fast rise yeast (2 packets)
- In a large, 5 quart container, combine all ingredients.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is evenly wet with no dry spots.
- Cover your container loosely, and allow to rise on the counter top for 2 hours.
- The dough should almost triple in size and begin to collapse on itself and flatten on top. You can allow it to rise overnight, and it won’t hurt anything.
- Chill dough for at least three hours. You can bake it before chilling, but it’s easier to work with cold, and the flavor improves with age.
- Place a baking stone in your oven, and put a sheet of parchment paper on a pizza peel. An upside down baking sheet can be subbed for either the baking stone or pizza peel.
- Wet your hands. The dough is very sticky and soft. You’ll want to treat it gently so you’ll not deflate those beautiful air pockets.
- Cut or tear away about a fourth of the bread dough…approx. the size of a large grapefruit.
- Gently shape the dough into any shape of your choice on the parchment paper, smoothing out the top into a ‘gluten cloak’. It’s OK if it looks wompy.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes once you get the bread shaped. You’re going to let it rise for a total of 40 minutes, but this is my cheat way or reminding myself to pre-heat the oven.
- When the timer goes off, begin preheating the oven to 450º. Set the timer for 20 more minutes. Your bread dough won’t have risen much, if at all, at this point, and this is normal. NORMAL, I say. No worries.
- Top with kosher salt or herbs/seeds if desired. Slash top to allow gasses to escape while baking.
- When the timer goes off, slide the bread in and bake for 25 to thirty minutes until golden brown.
MORE Easy Bread Dough Recipes!
Note: This easy bread recipe has become the basis for a lot of our family favorite recipes…it makes an incredible pizza crust! Here are all the recipes that use this dough as the base:
Easy Bread Dough FAQ
A. Artisan Bread in Five has a gluten free version here that a friend of mine uses with my method above. Not sure on the Trim & Healthy nature of it though. Q. Is this a true sourdough, since you’re adding yeast?
A. Yes. The yeast is used here as a microbe that starts the fermentation process, and breaks down the gluten and carbs in the bread. Wild caught methods of making sourdough are a lot more labor intensive.
Q. My bread didn’t rise…any idea why?A. Try testing your yeast or not heating your water.