On The Rise
By Minnie Payne
I once sold a house thanks to the wafting aroma of yeast bread on a cold wintry day in Dallas. In 2014, my house was for sale and our culinarily gifted daughter had just pulled a warm, made-from-scratch yeast bread out of the oven. A warm inviting home and fresh baked bread convinced prospective buyers that it was the place they’d call their own, and it sold shortly thereafter. I’ve included the recipe for that bread on this page.
Recent scholarship suggests that long before we were selling houses, prehistoric man made gruel from water and grains, developed the mixture into a dough, and fried it on stones.
More and more, in addition to satisfying our taste buds with home-baked bread, people are realizing the many benefits and pleasures of this interest. In addition to being tasty, home-baked bread is often more nutritious, more economical, and more customizable. It’s also therapeutic and personal. What better way to call it a night than by baking a fresh loaf of bread for the next day?
Whatever reason you find for baking bread, each new loaf can represent another slice of life. Happy baking.
Gather 1½ Tbsp. yeast, 1½ Tbsp. kosher salt, 3 cups of lukewarm water (about 100 ˚F), 6½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus a little extra for dusting dough, and some cornmeal.
Step 1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix salt and yeast into 3 cups lukewarm water. Stir in flour a bit at a time, mixing until there are no dry patches. The dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours). You can refrigerate the dough for as long as two weeks before ready to bake.
Step 2. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with a serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
Step 3. Place broiler pan on the bottom of the oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and heat oven to 450 ˚F, heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
Step 4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with a serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut the oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.