This recipe makes ONE loaf. Double for the two loaves pictured above.
This is an easy and delicious recipe. Shape it free-form on a baking sheet.
1 cup warm water (no more than 110°F)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 package yeast (or 2-1/3 teaspoon if you buy in bulk)
2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon oil
3 cups flour - bread flour or winter wheat is best as it is softer and makes nicer bread
Oil for greasing the baking sheet
1 Tablespoon polenta, coarse cornmeal or grits for the baking sheet
1 egg, beaten for the top of the loaf
Pour warm water into medium sized bowl. Add sugar and stir together. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand 5 minutes.
Once yeast is dissolved add salt, oil and one cup of the flour. Mix well with a spoon. Add another cup of flour and continue mixing.
Put one cup of flour on the counter or a board and scrape the contents of the bowl directly onto it.
Begin kneading the dough, adding bits of flour if you find that it is too sticky. After about 5-7 minutes you should feel the dough begin to change and it will become smooth.
Do not add too much flour - this is a fairly soft dough but not sticky.
Oil a medium-sized bowl and place the dough inside. Cover lightly with a tea-towel or cling wrap.
Let rise in a warm room for abut an hour to an hour and a half. The dough should be about double in size.
To prepare baking pan:
I prefer to use baking paper as it helps to eliminate a lot of the clean up. If you have baking paper, cut a piece to fit a cookie sheet. Oil it lightly and then sprinkle with Polenta, coarse cornmeal or grits. This gives the bottom crust a nice crunch.
Remove dough from bowl and on a very lightly-floured counter knead the dough until it is back to the size it was before the first rise. Begin shaping a long roll - it should be 8-10" long. Place the roll on the prepared baking sheet and allow to rise in a warm room for 45 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 375°F - Place rack in the centre of the oven
Beat one egg in a bowl and then gently brush the entire unbaked loaf with the egg. Use a pastry brush or even your hands.
Cut slices about 1/4" deep, diagonally in raised loaf. (See photo of finished loaves above)
Place baking sheet in oven on the middle rack and bake for about 25 minutes. To check to see if your bread is baked, open the oven and tap the top of the loaf. If it sounds a bit hollow then it is done. The colour should also be brown and shiny.
Cool on rack for a minimum of 10 minutes.