Hearth Bread

This bread also goes by the name “the easiest loaf of bread you’ll ever make” from King Arthur Flour. I don’t know if I would go that far (English Muffin bread is pretty easy!), but this recipe definitely isn’t complicated. Like most bread recipes, the difficult part is having the time to wait for the bread to rise multiple times before baking. If you’re going to be home doing other things, though, it’s easy to just let this rise in the background. And it’s totally worth it because it tastes great.

Hearth Bread
I substituted half whole wheat flour to make it a little healthier, and that seemed to work out well. The end result was tasty and hearty without being dry. We ate a lot of slices while it was still warm from the oven, and since then have used it for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato sandwiches, and both were great. (It seems like homemade bread gets dry and stale quickly, so as soon as the bread is cool, and we’ve eaten lots of it fresh out of the oven, I slice it and freeze it.)

Hearth Bread

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Hearth Bread

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups warm water (not over 110°F)
5 1/2 to 6 cups All-Purpose Flour
cornmeal
boiling water

Directions:

To mix: Mix together the first four ingredients. Let this stand until the yeast, sugar and salt are dissolved. Gradually add the flour to the liquid and mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead. (This may be a little messy)

Knead It: Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself towards you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this process in a rhythmic, rocking motion for 5 minutes, sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent sticking. Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the mixing bowl. Knead the dough again for 2 to 3 minutes.

Let It Rise: Return the dough to the bowl and turn it over once to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel and keep warm until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.Shape it: Punch down the dough with your fist and briefly knead out any air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape into two Italian- or French-style loaves. Place the loaves on a cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the loaves rest for 5 minutes.

Bake it: Lightly slash the tops of the loaves 3 or more times diagonally and brush them with cold water. Place on rack in a cold oven with a roasting pan full of boiling water on the oven bottom. Bake at 400°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow to the touch.

**For a lighter, crustier bread, let your shaped loaves rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven and roasting pan with water to 500°F for 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with cold water, place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400°F and bake for 10 more minutes.