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Bread is life

Bread is very important in our culture and our cuisine. Try this recipe and you will be delighted. Welcoming your guests in a home smelling bread is the best way!

  • 900 g all porpose flour

  • 680 g water lukewarm

  • 18 g table salt

  • 14 g instant yeast

  1. The flour/liquid ratio is important when you make bread, so measure carefully.

  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, Lukewarm water means reasonably warm, if too hot it will kill the yeast which is a lively ingredient.

  3. Mix and stir everything together to obtain a very sticky, rough dough.

  4. Now, you're going to let the dough rise: cover with a plastic wrap; it's going to rise a lot. There's no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it's time to bake bread.

  5. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 1 day.

  6. When ready, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 400 g to 540 g piece, if you have a scale.

  7. Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log.

  8. Place the loaf onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the bread moist as it rests before baking. Drape the bread with greased plastic wrap.

  9. Let the loaf warm to room temperature and rise; this should take about 60 minutes (or longer, up to a couple of hours, if your house is cool). It won't appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it'll seem to settle and expand.

  10. Preheat your oven to 230 C while the loaf rests.

  11. Place a cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.

  12. When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's OK, it'll pick right up in the hot oven.

  13. Place the dough in the pan and the hot pan in the oven — onto a middle rack— and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.

  14. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown.

  15. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack.

  16. Enjoy!

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