This is the tastiest and easiest bread I’ve ever made. Here’s why. The secret is science and understanding why the best bread takes time. The key to an addictive loaf of rich, hearty goodness is not long laborious kneading; instead it’s an overnight rest for the living dough. With time, water and flour will naturally form a strong elastic dough that can then capture the breath of the living yeast and rise into tender, chewy bread.
- For 1 large loaf of your own whole-grain country bread
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour or bread flour
- 1 cup of any whole wheat flour
- 1 cup of oatmeal flakes (or other Variations below)
- 1 heaping teaspoon of active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 ¼ cups of warm water
- In a large bowl whisk the dry ingredients together, evenly distributing the finer salt and yeast throughout the coarser flours. Pour the warm water over the flours swirling gently until evenly distributed and eventually absorbed. Stir vigorously with the handle end of a wooden spoon until a full moist dough ball forms. Stir, roll and knead to gather the loose flour in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest on the counter, 6 to 8 hours, even overnight. Long elastic gluten strands will automatically form as the raw gluten is activated by water and time. The dough will breathe and double in size.
- Sprinkle the risen dough and worksurface with flour. Remove dough from bowl deflating it. Dust with more flour. Knead and roll into a tight ball. Transfer to a large 9x5 inch (2 L) loaf pan. Lightly spray with kitchen oil to moisten surface. Rest a second time. In 2 hours or so the dough will double yet again.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Turn on your convection fan if you have one. Bake the risen dough until the bread is deep golden brown and delicious, 45 minutes.
Bread flour has a higher concentration of gluten in it than All Purpose so it will produce the strongest loaf with the most rise. All-purpose flour has less gluten but will still produce a beautiful loaf of bread. In either case the dough is strong enough to hold lots of multi-grain bits so, rather than oatmeal for a multi-grain mix, you may use a blend such as Red River cereal or a 12-grain cereal breakfast blend. You may also use plain oatmeal, cornmeal or even potato flakes.
For plain white toast bread use 4 cups AP flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 heaping teaspoon yeast, and 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water.
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