The Easiest Bread in the World (dairy-free)
revised 04/05/13

Mix this bread up about once a week and have fresh rolls or loaves every day!
This is my everyday recipe, adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. The book contains lots of information about bread making and many recipes.

Equipment that can be helpful includes:

A very large bowl to mix, rise and store dough. I use a 5 quart stainless steel bowl.
A Pizza or baking stone. You can bake directly on the stone, no pans to clean.
A pizza peel. This item is optional, but I use it as a surface on which the dough can rise before baking and way to transfer the bread from the oven to the cooling rack.
A pastry scraper, to move the dough or baked rolls, substitute a metal spatula until you become a dedicated breadmaker.

In a large bowl mix together the following ingredients in the order they are listed.

Place water in a very large bowl. Stir in yeast and salt. Stir until the yeast begins to dissolve. Add the bran and whole wheat flour. Mix well. Use a whisk for as long as it works. You may need to switch to a spatula when the dough gets thick. Finally add the last 3 to 3-1/2 cups of bread flour. Stop adding flour when the dough is till sticky and wet. DO NOT Knead. Just mix everything together.

The goal is a rather loose, moist well-mixed dough. You do not want to add so much flour that the dough is dry or stiff.

Optional: Let the dough rest and begin to rise. Come back in 10 minutes and lift one side of the dough and stretch it out of the bowl, then fold it back onto itself. Spin the bowl 180º and stretch the dough again folding it over again. Spin the bowl 90º and do it again, then again to the other side. You have pulled and stretched the dough from each of the four sides. This helps to align the gluten. It is also kind of fun. It is optional but improves the texture. Do this a total of four times, waiting 10-15 minutes between each stretch. (Yes, you can do it only 3 times, 2 times or not at all.)

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for two hours. After the dough has risen, place the bowl in the refrigerator for one hour or more. Although you can begin making bread immediately after the dough has risen, refrigerating the dough will make it much easier to handle.

When you are ready to make bread, remove the dough from the fridge and tear off a piece of dough. Form the dough into a round loaf or into large rolls. I make rolls and use about 1/3 cup or a nice handful for each roll. Make as much bread as you need and put the rest back in the fridge, covered. I usually cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a large pot lid.

Place the loaf or rolls onto a generously floured pizza/bread peel or cutting board. Let the dough rest while the oven comes up to temp, 20-40 minutes, less time for rolls, more for a loaf. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bake the bread on a pizza or baking stone for best results. Alternatively, the bread can be placed on a cookie sheet to rest/rise and then slide the cookie sheet into the oven when ready.

Bake rolls for 12-15 minutes and a loaf for about 30-40 minutes.

Each time you wish to make bread, tear off as much dough as needed and refrigerate the rest. If the dough seems very wet, sprinkle it with a bit more whole wheat flour and reshape the dough into a ball, and return it to its bowl.

Notes: ***The dry ingredients (bran, WW flour and bread flour) in this recipe equal ~5-1/2-6 cups total. You can vary the ingredients somewhat as long as you keep the wet to dry ratios the same. For example, use more whole wheat flour and less bread flour, add 3 T flax seed in place of the same amount of flour, use up to one cup of oatmeal instead of flour or eliminate the bran and use an equal amount of flour instead. Just strive for about 5-1/2 total cups of any variety of flour/bran/flax/oatmeal. So far, any substitutions I have tried seem to work. Of course the more whole wheat and bran, the denser the bread will be. Dense dough has fewer air holes and a chewier texture.

I think this is the easiest bread in the world because I always have dough on hand and can form and bake rolls in less than an hour. I make the dough about once a week and like the book says it takes only a few minutes a day to make fresh crusty bread. The book will provide a whole lot of fine points about equipment, mixing, and forming the loaves along with many recipes.

Another book that has been helpful in improving the recipe is Peter Reinhart's Artisan Bread Every Day. I have to provide mixed reviews on this book. It is not for the casual bread baker. I found This book by Reinhart to be overly technical and it does not seem to stand alone all that well. He makes references to techniques covered in his previous books without providing an adequate review of those techniques. So I felt a bit as if I needed a bunch of other books to make sense of this one. Check it out of a library before you buy it. Wish I had, because it wasn't cheap. Bright side, it motivated me to try making sourdough bread, which was a fun 3-4 month experiment, but it sort of got away from me.

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