This King Arthur recipe is a lot of fun and just about no work. We didn’t create it but we did make it twice and take some pictures to show you how easy it is. Basically, you mix the ingredients and let them rise in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Shorter will develop a little less flavor. Longer and it tastes like sourdough. There’s no real work involved.
We were worried about finding a container that would hold the rising flour and still fit in our fridge. You want one of about 5 quart capacity, and we found a Rubbermaid 21-cup storage container that more than fit the bill.
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 2 lb (32 oz) of flour
- 1 Tb salt
- 1 ½ Tb (1 packet) instant yeast
For this quantity of flour, you really need to weigh it out on a kitchen scale, because the volume varies a lot with how you scoop out the flour. KA says it is 6 ½ to 7 ½ cups of flour. May be, but weighing it is so much easier. Then you just dump it into a mixer bowl with the other ingredients and stir it up. KA says the flour-liquid ratio is important for this to work. You should end up with a thick, sticky batter, not a dough.
Mix all the ingredients in a mixer bowl or by hand and scrape the batter into the refrigerator container.
Let it rise, covered, at room temperature for two hours.
Then put it in the refrigerator for several days. We tried 5 days one time and 6 days the next. The dough will rise and then fall in the fridge. Don’t worry. This is normal.
When you are ready to make the bread, put an empty metal pan on the lowest shelf and a baking stone on the upper shelf, and preheat the oven to 450° F while you form a loaf.
To make a loaf, sprinkle the dough with flour so you can pick it up and weigh out 18-19 oz of dough for a loaf. KA suggests as little as 14 oz, but that really makes a small loaf.
Plop the dough onto a floured board and form it into a ball or cylinder.
Transfer it to a piece of baking parchment, and let it rise for an hour. It will probably spread out, but this is normal.
We never knew you could put baking parchment directly on the baking stone, but this works well and avoids messy flour and cornmeal on the bread.
At the last minute, cut a couple of slashed in the loaf with a sharp knife or a razor blade. You can see these slashed in the final baked product.
Then, open the oven and slide the dough onto the baking stone with a baking peel or a flat baking sheet. Pour a cup of hot water into the metal pan to form steam, and quickly close the oven.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the bread and let it cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it.
The result is hot delicious crusty bread for dinner.
KA credits the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day for the inspiration for this recipe.