There's a particular comfort that comes with baking, and for me, that comfort comes with freshly baked bread. Bread that requires little fuss, minimal ingredients, and practically zero clean up.
This recipe is one of my favorites, using only 4 ingredients and a little bit of time. It's also a great beginner recipe if you're new to bread baking!
1 1/2 cups of warm water (about 100º F)
1 packet of active dry, instant, or quick rise yeast (or 2.25 teaspoons)
1/2 tbs of fine grain non-iodized salt (I use sea salt)
3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour (you may also use bread flour)
1. In a large bowl, mix together the warm water, yeast, and salt. Let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast gets foamy.
2. Add the flour to the bowl and stir together until a sticky dough forms, making sure everything is uniformly wet.
3. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it for 2-3 hours to rise in a warm place until it's doubled in volume. Live in a cold house? Place your bowl near a heater or on your clothes dryer if you're doing laundry.
4. 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450 ºF. While preheating, place your Dutch oven in the oven with the lid on. Once the oven reaches temperature, leave your Dutch oven in for another 20 minutes.
5. While waiting for your Dutch oven to warm, scrape the dough onto a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour. Using lightly floured hands, fold under the edges of your dough to create a loaf shape. Using a sharp knife or razor blade, cut a line or a few slits across the top of your dough.
6. Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven (it will be hot!!) and remove the lid. Grab the edges of your parchment paper and drop your dough into the hot Dutch oven. Replace the lid.
7. Place the Dutch oven on the center rack of your oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the top is a golden brown.
8. Remove the Dutch oven from your oven and remove your loaf by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper. Place your bread on a wire rack or cutting board to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
** Check your manufacturers user guide on pre-heating your Dutch oven. Some manufacturers recommend not pre-heating an empty enamel Dutch oven. If worried, put the dough in your cold Dutch oven and extend the cooking time with the lid on for an extra 5-10 minutes.