A lot of folks think that making bread is hard, and avoid doing it for that reason. Here is the truth — it is actually easy to make bread, even really good bread. All you need is the right recipe, and the right tools. We got started making bread about ten years ago, when we learned about The No Knead Method. This technique was an absolute revelation, because it demystified the process, and made us realize that we could do it, and it made us realize that it was fun.
If you've never used this method, let me break it down for you into the basic steps.
STEP 1: MIX
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. For a basic loaf, the dry ingredients are 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of yeast. After mixing the dry ingredients, add 13 ounces of water and mix just until it's beginning to become homogenous. Cover with saran wrap.
STEP 2: RISE
For 18-24 hours, let the dough just do it's thing. You can go about your day. It will be fine without you.
STEP 3: FORM
When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven (and your Fourneau) to 485-500 degrees. As you are letting the oven preheat, scoop out the dough with a spatula on to a floured work surface. I like to make a basic batch into two loaves, so I divide the dough in half, and then "envelope fold" it into the desired shape. (More on this later). Once you are done forming, let the bread rest for about 45 minutes, which will allow your oven to fully pre-heat.
STEP 4: BAKE
If you are using The Fourneau Oven, sprinkle some breadcrumbs or wheat bran onto the peel. Place your loaf on the peel, score it with a knife, and load it into The Fourneau. Close the hatch and bake in the closed position for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, open the hatch and set it aside. Rotate the bread using the peel, and then bake it for another 5-10 minutes with the hatch off, until the bread reaches a marvelous brown color. Remove it from the oven using the peel, and let it cool on a cooling rack.
That's the basic method! Of course, just like anything, the magic of what makes truly great bread is in the subtle details, the perfect ingredients, and the variations of technique that develop over a lifetime of perfecting a craft. But everyone has to start somewhere! This is where we started, and you CAN do it too!