I'm serious. It's like this: I love fresh bread. My problem? Since I'm gone from the house at least nine hours a day during the week, it's pretty darn tough to fit in a three hour process before dinner. Bummer. But a couple of years ago I heard a thing on NPR, talking about how easy it is to make artisan bread. I was driving, as luck would have it, and couldn't write down the directions. So I eventually just forgot about it. But a couple of weeks ago, Ucreate's food section featured the same recipe! And it really is incredibly easy. We're talking a 10 minute initial investment, five minutes for shaping a loaf, and then an hour and ten minutes of waiting until your fresh, hot loaf, each time you bake. Genius! And here it is. You've simply got to try it. Trust me :)
In a 2-quart food container, mix the following ingredients:
3 C. warm water
1-1/2 T. yeast
1-1/2 T. salt
1 T. sugar
6-1/2 C. flour (I like a mix of white and wheat, but whatever.)
Don't knead the dough--just make sure it's mixed and moistened. Then let it sit, covered, on the counter for a couple of hours. Now put it in the refrigerator.
Every time you want bread (the dough lasts a week in the fridge), pull out a hunk of dough, and:
1)Form it into a ball and place it on a floured baking sheet
2) Allow it to come to room temp for about 40 min.
3) Sprinkle flour on top and make a shallow slice with a sharp knife
4) Bake in a pre-heated, 450 degree oven, for about 35 min. Water in a baking dish on the lower rack of your oven does wonderful things to the crust.
That's the basic recipe. I'm now experimenting with all sorts of variations. Try it and let me know what you think! I am positive that it beats the heck out of $4.50 a loaf artisan bread.