A daily bread recipe, with yeast and variations, for those who have not yet reached Peak Artisan


If Instagram is an indicator, a starter starter pot has replaced bitcoin as our new world order currency.

But for future sequestered bakers who have not yet reached Peak Artisan, a very simple loaf of bread, made with a packet of yeast and a few cups of all-purpose flour, may be more useful. Baking bread at home is a deeply restorative activity, warming the kitchen and the day in the way we need right now, while providing basic food. Break bread, make toast, even take pizza out of the oven.

I wrote a daily bread recipe 14 years ago, and it still works great. This is the basic bread my mother made half a century ago in Iowa, with wheat germ to add flavor to the cups of unbleached white flour – a master baker Nancy Silverton also used, when it was more difficult to find good stone ground flour.

When I redid the recipe the other day, I updated it a little, but you wouldn’t have to do it if you still like the soothing effect of kneading. I don’t knead dough anymore (thanks Jim Lahey). Instead, I mixed it in the bowl with my hands, which hasn’t been as clean since cooking school, until it was incorporated, and then I covered the dough (no extra olive oil needed) with a towel and I left it to the test for 30 minutes.

Every half hour of the two hour rise time, I folded the dough, again with my hands, lifting it on itself maybe six times, then covering it for another test of 30 minutes. This builds the structure of the dough and replaces kneading (and prepares you for leavening). I used 2¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast rather than a snapshot pack, but it would work too. And since I didn’t need extra flour for conventional kneading, I only used 4 cups in total.

If you want a more complete approach, replace half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat. And if you don’t have wheat germ, replace it with whole wheat flour; if you have any, add it anyway, as it will enhance the flavor. Another note: whole grain flour is usually thirstier than unbleached white flour, so I added maybe 1/2 cup less whole wheat flour to the mix: if you don’t knead the dough, it will be a bit shaggy, which is how it should be.

After two hours of rising, you can form the dough to suit you. The basic recipe makes two loaves, in the shape of a round ball or a longer bastard.

Note: If you do not have a fancy bread basket, do so by lining a colander with a cloth lined with flour. Or take each portion of dough, spread it on an oiled baking sheet and prepare a pizza. If you have marinara sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni on hand, well, that’s good for you. I used what I had, which was sautéed Swiss chard, goat cheese, parmesan cheese – and about half a jar of spicy chilli, since I’ve been putting this on everything for about two weeks now.

Daily bread is what you need.


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