Free Formed Bread

One of the greatest pleasures in life is digging into a loaf of freshly baked bread. The smell, the warmth, and that soft texture of this Free Formed Bread is so good and comforting!


– 3 C of lukewarm water – 1 ½ tbsp of granulated yeast about 2 packets - any brand/style will do – 1 ½ tbsp of coarse salt – 6 ½ C of unbleached all-purpose flour

Add the yeast and the salt to the warm water (about 110 degrees F) in a large bowl. You don't need to mix it or wait for it to dissolve.

Add the water. No need to sift or pack the flour. Simply scoop it up, sweep level, and add all of it to the water mixture.

Use a wooden spoon or your (very wet) hands to mix in the flour. It's not necessary to knead the dough. Just mix it together until it's uniformly moist.

Cover the bowl and allow it to rise in a warm spot until it's about twice its size. I cover it with a hand towel and put it in the sun. This will take about 2 hours.

It's recommended that you allow the dough to then sit in the fridge for a few hours, but if you're like me, you're ready to eat. Cut off a grapefruit sized chunk of dough and with floured hands, stretch and mold it into a ball. Again, no need to knead - this shouldn't take more than 60 seconds.

Place the ball of dough onto a heavily floured surface you can later use to slide the dough into the oven (like a pizza peel). Flour the top of the ball and use a knife to cut a couple of slices into the top. Allow the dough to sit and rise for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the oven on to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and place a baking surface on the middle rack (a baking stone works best but a cookie sheet will work).

After 40 minutes, slide the dough on to the baking surface. The trick is to add a pan with 1 cup of water to the bottom rack, which will help bake the bread with steam, making it soft in the middle. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Keep the rest of the dough covered or in a freezer bag in the fridge until you're ready for another loaf (it will keep for well over a week). The initial dough making is the tedious part. However, when you're ready for a loaf, cut off a chunk of dough, spend 60 seconds to roll the dough into a ball, let rise for 40 minutes and cook for 30. You'll have fresh bread for 60 seconds of work.