Simple bread can be great bread. The four basic ingredients are flour, salt, water, and yeast. The recipe I use requires no kneading. Its almost as simple as using a bread machine, but we prefer this recipe to any from a bread machine. This is my variation on a no knead bread that Jim Lahey made famous. Here it is:
3 cups bread flour
1 and 1/4 teaspooon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 and 1/2 cup water
Mix the dry ingredients. Add water and stir until blended. It will be sticky. Cover with plastic and let rise 12-18 hours. Spread about a 1/4 cup of flour on a counter. With a floured hand or utensil turn the dough on the floured counter. Divide the dough in half. I use a mezzaluna. Roll each half into a long loaf – ciabatta shape. Place each loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rise one hour. Heat oven to 425. Bake 30 minutes.
Planning ahead for this bread is required because of the long rising time. The long unheated rising time is where this bread gets its great flavor. Often I add herbs to the dough. It turns out fine with all purpose flour as well. Sometimes I use 3/4 cup of whole wheat for part of the flour. This dough also makes a great pizza crust. Four large or six medium crusts instead of 2 ciabattas.