Crusty Round Loaves of Homemade Bread

Finished loaf cooled, sliced and ready to eat.

Freshly baked bread in five minutes?

When was the last time you had freshly-baked bread hot from the oven?  Maybe, like most people, you can’t remember the last time you had homemade bread.  We had some with dinner, but that isn’t a big deal around here; we have homemade bread four or five nights a week.  Granted, it isn’t a soft, sandwich-type loaf but it is delicious just the same. 

I’m not telling you this to brag; I’m trying to tell you how easy it is so that you can do it too!  

This summer I started baking my own bread in an effort to eat more slowly.  When I started making my own cheese, homemade bread became a natural use of the gallons and gallons of whey leftover after cheese production.  I experimented with lots of recipes, but this is by far my favorite due to the fact that it is so  easy.  The recipe is from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day“, and it really only does take five minutes a day.  Well, it takes a little longer, but you only have to spend five minutes a day dealing with it.    Plus, if you are frugal like me, you’ll appreciate these loaves not only for their ease, but for their value.  This bread is just like the fancy-shmancy loaves you can buy for $4-$7 at the local bakery and only costs pennies to make.

Warm whey ready to use

Whey measured out and warmed.

Here is my variation:

3 cups      lukewarm whey (or water)
1 1/2 T.    yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 T.    kosher salt
6 1/2 cups     spelt flour (or whole wheat)

Warm the whey and sprinkle the yeast onto it.  You don’t need to let the yeast rest, just pour the yeast and whey into a large mixing bowl and add the salt.

All miked up and ready to raise.

The dough after a quick mix with a wooden spoon. No mixer, no kneading.

Stir in the flour.  Mix with a wooden spoon or other sturdy utensil until all the flour is moistened.  The dough will be fairly wet.

Mixed dough rising

Cover the mixing bowl and let rise.

Loosely cover the bowl and place in a warm spot for two or more hours.  You can use plastic wrap, but I use a damp kitchen towel or cloth napkin because it is more earth-friendly and because I hate to spend money on plastic wrap.   Ignoring the dough for up to five hours will have no negative effect on the final product.

The round loaf after rising for about 40 minutes.

Finished rising and ready to bake.

Using well-floured hands and a serrated knife, scoop out a grapefruit-sized ball of dough and shape it into a roundish loaf by repeatedly tucking the edges under.  This takes some practice and you have to keep adding flour to your hands unless you want to end up like a cartoon character all covered with a sticky mess of dough.
Place the loaf onto a well-floured plate or board to rise.  You can use cornmeal, but I’ve had better luck with flour.  (Excessive amounts as you can see in the picture.) 
Loosely re-cover the remaining dough (with the same kitchen towel you used last time :) ) and refrigerate until you are ready to make another loaf.  This dough can remain in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Place a broiler pan or an old metal baking pan on the bottom oven rack.  Preheat the oven and a pizza stone to 450 degrees while your round loaf rises.  This should take about 40 minutes and will allow the stone to get nice and hot. 

When the oven and stone are nice and hot and your loaf is ready to bake, quickly transfer the loaf to the hot pizza stone. Using a well-floured and very sharp serrated knife, slash the top of the loaf one or more times.  Carefully pour a cup of water into the pan on the bottom rack, place your loaf in the oven and close the door to trap steam.  Bake about 30 minutes.

In another day or two when you are ready to bake another loaf, pull the dough out of the refrigerator, cut off another hunk of dough and let it rise while the oven warms.  Depending on the size of your loaves, this recipe should make three or four loaves.

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21 Comments

Filed under food, frugality

21 responses to “Crusty Round Loaves of Homemade Bread

  1. MK

    Hi! Love your blog. I thought you might be interested in joining our group – Michigan Lady Food Bloggers. We’re a group of women bloggers that live in Michigan that get together occasionally for potlucks and online. Membership is open to all women that blog about food that live in Michigan. Check us out:

    http://myfoodtribe.blogspot.com/2009/11/michigan-lady-food-blogger-faq.html

    and if you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you!

    • aastricker

      Thanks for the invite! I stopped by and applied. I’m going to check out the canning challenge too. (After I finish my Dark Days post . . .)

  2. Angie

    Thank you thank you thank you !!! I’ve been meaning to ask you how you manage to make homemade bread so often during the week, especially since I KNOW you are a busy lady ~ I’m excited to try this recipe this week.

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  4. I love homemade fresh bread. I just told Ashley yesterday that of all the things she is learning to bake recently {pizza dough, cupcakes from scratch, cinnamon streusel muffins, and cinnamon rolls from scratch}…she needs to learn to make bread. So we will be having an at home lesson when she feels better :)

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  6. Absolutely beautiful! I love that book. Have you tried their book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes? It’s also good and if you want to join us baking through the book this year, you can find info on bigblackdog.com. I’ll also be posting my bread for this month tomorrow.

    • aastricker

      I haven’t seen the new book yet, but I checked your post about the crackers and I’m definitely interested in it! I’ll have to peruse a copy next time I stop in the book store.

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  9. so inspiring! as soon as the weather cools off here, I am going to try it!

  10. Debbie Moehr

    Do you know if this would be considered a low sodium bread? I am looking, for a good, easy bread recipe but it has to be low sodium & with whole wheat flour. Thank you in advance. Debbie

    • aastricker

      You could eliminate the salt or adjust it to meet your dietary needs. Salt has more of a flavor aspect than a “chemistry” aspect as far as the formation of bread goes. As the recipe stands, I don’t know what the sodium % is. I bet you could find a recipe calculator somewhere online.

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  12. This looks like a great and easy recipe, but I don’t own a stone. Could I bake the bread on a regular cookie sheet?

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  15. I’m so impressed with your homemade bread AND cheese! I absolutely love fresh bread from the oven, and this version looks really delicious. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us at Saturday Night Fever!

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