You, my friends need to make this bread. This is the Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, and it is AMAZING. It is really similar to Mark Lahey's No Knead Bread, but additional yeast lets this dough turn into SOURdough...and it's really just about the best bread I've ever had.
I got the book at the library, and it's currently on my very short Book Wish List (hint, hint!)
I'm posting the recipe here so I can keep making this bread until I get my hands on my own copy of the book. The book is centered around this basic recipe, but gives you instructions on making so many other things with the dough. (I'll include instructions on how to make pretzels from the dough that are OUT of this world.)
In a 5-qt bowl or food-safe container, combine 3 cups lukewarm water, 1 1/2 T. yeast, 1 1/2 T. course salt (less if using table salt) and 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour.
That's it! Stir it until it is well combined, cover the container with plastic wrap or a lid (not too tight!) and leave it on the counter until the surface of the dough rises up and flattens on the top.
At that point, you can throw the whole thing in the refrigerator. You have enough dough to make four loaves of bread, or...a lot of pretzel bites. You can leave the dough for up to two weeks, and it will get more sour over time.
On baking day, cut off a chunk of your dough, quickly shape it into a round loaf, slash the top (I forgot to slash mine...that's why it looks like a Nintendo Goomba!) and let it rest for 40-90 minutes. 20 minutes before you bake, preheat your pan (on the middle shelf, please) and oven to 450. (I like to use a dutch oven. If not using a dutch oven, put a broiler pan in the oven that you can add 1 cup of boiling water to when you bake your bread.)
After the 20 minutes are up, throw your dough into your prepared pan, cover (or add boiling water to a broiler pan) and let it cook for 30 minutes. (Cover for the first 20 minutes if using a dutch oven, and remove the lid for the last 10 minutes.)
It's really that simple, and this is SERIOUSLY good bread.
To Make Pretzels
Instead of forming a loaf, break off small pieces, roll them into balls, and drop into a large pot of boiling water prepared with 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. cream of tartar. Boil 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a towel to dry for a few minutes, then put them into a preheated 450 degree oven, just as you would with the normal loaf of bread. (Be sure to preheat your pan as well, and line with parchment or a Silpat to keep the pretzels from sticking.) Make sure to sprinkle them with plenty of course salt, and brush them with a glaze of 1 beaten egg and 1 T. water. (I haven't tried this with a dutch oven, but I suppose it would work - you just wouldn't be able to bake as many at once.) Bake for about 30 minutes. Delicious!