Bakeries have bread making down to a science, but we can help you mimic those artisan creations at home. The cast iron skillet crisps up the bread's crust while keeping the insides soft and oh, so tender.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

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Credit: Andy Lyons

Recipe Summary

stand:
2 hrs
rise:
20 mins
bake:
25 mins
total:
3 hrs
prep:
15 mins
Servings:
30
Yield:
3 (1-lb.) loaves (10 slices per loaf)
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • In an extra-large bowl combine flour, Add-In (if desired), salt, and yeast. Stir in the warm water until mixture is moistened (dough will be very sticky and soft). Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. If desired, refrigerate up to 1 week.

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  • For each loaf, grease a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet; sprinkle generously with cornmeal. Using a sharp knife, cut off a third of the dough. (Place remaining dough in refrigerator.) Do not punch dough down. Place dough portion on a well-floured surface; sprinkle lightly with flour. Shape dough by gently pulling it into a ball, tucking edges underneath and adding additional flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to hands. Place in prepared skillet; sprinkle lightly with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place 20 minutes.*

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.** Score top of loaf with sharp knife. Place on middle oven rack; place a shallow roasting pan with 2 cups hot water on the rack below. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown. Remove from skillet; cool on a wire rack.

Add-In (pick one)

Crumbled cooked bacon
Shredded cheese
Snipped dried fruit
Sliced green onions
Chopped toasted nuts
Chopped pepperoni

Note: If using bacon or pepperoni, serve baked bread within 2 hours or freeze for longer storage.

*Note

If using chilled dough, increase rising time to 45 minutes. The longer the dough stands in the refrigerator, the stickier it becomes. Take care not to overwork the dough as you don't want to destroy the air pockets that have formed.

**Note

If desired, place a baking stone on the middle oven rack before preheating. After dough has risen, carefully transfer to the hot baking stone. Bake as directed.

Wheat and Seed Loaf

Prepare as directed, except substitute 3 cups whole wheat flour for 3 cups of the all-purpose flour. Stir 3/4 cup dry roasted sunflower kernels and 3 Tbsp. each flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds into flour mixture.Per slice: same as above, except 120 calories, 4 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 3 g total fat, 3 g fiber, 2% calcium, 8% iron

Honey-Oatmeal Bread

Prepare as directed, except substitute 2 cups muesli for 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour. Reduce the warm water to 2 3/4 cups and stir in 2/3 cup honey and 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil.Per slice: same as above, except 120 calories, 25 g carbohydrate, 1 g total fat, 8 g total sugar, 1% Vitamin A, 164 mg sodium, 8% iron

Semolina Cheese Bread

Prepare as directed, except substitute 1 1/2 cups semolina flour for 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour. Stir 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed, into flour mixture. Per slice: same as above, except 111 calories, 4 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 1 g total fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 1% Vitamin A, 199 mg sodium, 2% calcium

Nutrition Facts

93 calories; carbohydrates 19g; insoluble fiber 1g; protein 3g; vitamin a 0.6IU; thiamin 0.2mg; riboflavin 0.1mg; niacin equivalents 1.6mg; folate 51.9mcg; sodium 151mg; potassium 30mg; calcium 5mg; iron 1.2mg.
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