Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Ingredients
  • 2 cups warm water, not hot or you will kill your yeasty friends
  • 2 teaspoons yeast—a packet contains 2.25 teaspoons--close enough.
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5-7 cups flour, all-purpose is fine unless you wish to alter it for health reasons
Instructions
  1. Mix the yeast into the water.
  2. Combine the salt with three cups of flour.
  3. Add the flour/salt duo to the water, stirring.
  4. Add more flour and continue to stir until the dough holds together and is not wet.
  5. Dump the dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead. Add more flour as needed.
  6. Knead until smooth, about ten minutes by hand or four minutes by stand mixer.
  7. Shape the bread into two or three Italian-shaped loaves or several mini-loaves. Do this by pressing the dough flat and folding it into thirds, or by rolling it up. Put the ugly seamed side down and tuck under the ends. Place the loaves on a lightly greased pan. Optionally, shape two shorter loaves and place them in greased loaf pans for “bread-shaped bread.” Grease the top (I like butter), and cover with plastic wrap or a flour sack towel. Set in a warm place to rise.
  8. Let rise until about doubled in size, 30-60 mintues, depending on the temperature of the room.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat for 20 minutes if you have baking stones in your oven.
  10. Slash the top of the loaves several times diagonally for that authentic, fresh-from-a-French-bakery look. Put the dough in the oven. (If you want to use baking stones, slide the loaves off the pans and onto the stones.) Spritz the interior of the oven with water. (This is optional, but gives the out-of-the-pan loaf a more tender crust.) Set the timer for roughly 12 to 15 minutes, although it may take up to 20 minutes or more, depending on the size of your loaves and whether or not they are in pans.
  11. Because all ovens, pans, doughs, and bakers are different, use this reliable test to see if your bread is done. Traditionally, cooks tap the bread; if it sounds hollow, it’s done. A more reliable method is to insert an instant read thermometer into the bread. If the temp reads 190 to 210, it’s done.
  12. Remove, cool briefly, slice, eat. Personally, I believe bread is a means of transporting butter to the mouth, so I say load on the butter!
Recipe by The Simple Homemaker at http://www.thesimplehomemaker.com/simple-bread-recipe