Ok, so it takes a little longer because it has to rise. But it is literally FIVE minutes of work. And NO kneading. It really couldn't be simpler. And now that I know this bread exists, I don't ever want to hear anyone say, "I don't have time to make fresh baked bread." And that includes myself.
I enjoy making bread, and I probably bake fresh bread 3-4 times a month. Occasionally, I buy bread for my kids' sandwiches, but that is only when our schedule is really hectic, I'm sick, or I have too many other baking projects to do to fit in another loaf of bread. Needless to say, I don't buy bread often.
My brother first introduced me to this type of bread. He came over for dinner one day with a tupperware container full of "dough." All he did was pull out a "hunk", let it rise for 40 minutes, and pop it in the oven. Oh My Gosh. Hot from the oven bread with a crusty crust? HEAVEN. He said that he keeps the dough in the fridge for a few weeks and pulls out just what he needs for dinner. It couldn't get any easier!
Too lazy to call him for the recipe, I did a little internet search on "refrigerator dough" and found this video put on YouTube by the authors of "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day," Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. The recipe couldn't be any easier:
1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
3 cup water
6 1/2 cup flour
Thats it! You just mix it in a big container with a loose fitting top and stir until mixed. NO KNEADING! Let it rise for 2 hours, and it's ready to go. Take what you need and put the rest in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. All you have to do when you want fresh bread is take it out and let it rest while your oven heats up (about 40 minutes). Make sure to use a baking stone and a dish of water on the bottom rack for steam.
The steps for baking your bread are as follows:
1. Put your baking stone on the middle rack of your oven, and empty pan on the bottom rack, and preheat to 450 degrees.
2. Put a generous amount of corn meal on a wooden pizza peel.
3. Flour your hands and pull out a "hunk" of dough. (Your dough should be really "wet").
4. Form the dough into the desired shape. I did small oblong loafs this time. No special technique needed. Sprinkle it with flour and let it rest/rise for about 40 minutes. When you are ready to put it in the oven, take and knife and score the top (I didn't do this step for this batch).
Carefully slide the dough onto the baking stone in the oven and pour a cup or so of water in the pan that is on the bottom rack. Close the oven door quickly to trap the steam. Bake for 30-40 minutes (This will depend on the size loaves you make). The top should be a nice dark brown color and will sound hollow when you tap on it (I probably could have left these in a few more minutes to darken a little more). Remove loaves and put on rack to cool.
Talk about simple living. Fresh bread doesn't get much simpler. Enjoy!