Using this simple recipe will provide beginning bakers the basic skills needed for making bread. Shaping the bread into a free-form round is easier than forming it into a traditional loaf.
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
3 cups bread flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
How to Make It
Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press 2 fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
Punch dough down. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Shape dough into a 6-inch round; place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Lightly coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 450°.
Uncover dough. Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg white, stirring with a whisk; brush over dough. Make 3 (4-inch) cuts 1/4 inch deep across top of dough using a sharp knife.
Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until bread is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.
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I make bread frequently, and was looking for a good crusty "rustic" loaf for dinner tonight. My main problem with this recipe is the order of instructions. Against my better judgement, I waited until after the second rising (as directed) to apply the egg wash and put the slashes in the bread. Even as I did this carefully, my beautifully risen loaf fell to a pancake. It rose some in the oven, but not much. Next time, I will try applying the egg wash and the slashes before the second rising.
I did add sugar as others suggested, but my husband says this tastes like pizza dough. I agree.
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