Homemade Crusty Bread

If you know my mom then you know she makes some amazing sourdough bread! It's a crowd pleaser if I've seen one. I grew up with her always making this bread and thought I might be able to make it a family recipe... but it's hard! It's a very intensive process. She has a starter that must be kept alive (sounds crazy, right?!) and you have to keep feeding it so it won't die. This is the first sign that this is hard: keeping something alive that doesn't have a heart! Then the rest is a bunch of math. You feed it and then after a certain amount of time you are able to take some of the starter and make dough. You make the dough and let it rise, make rolls and let it rise, then finally you have bread! How she's done this for so long is beyond me! Way to go Mom!

When I say "it's hard" I speak from experience because I thought I could do it at one point and tried. I had a little trouble getting the dough to properly rise and keeping the starter alive so I conceded and declared it a Mom-only recipe.

But I still wanted to make bread! So I found a recipe that didn't require keeping a starter alive and didn't require too much time for rising and such. Isn't this pretty:
Whitney's First Successful Bread Attempt
I think the recipe popped up on Pinterest. And I'm definitely excited about making it again. This unfortunately isn't a good "sandwich" bread so I will be on the hunt for another sandwich bread recipe.

If you're interested in making this yourself I highly recommend hopping over to the Simply So Good Crusty Bread post for step-by-step instructions and pictures. There's also a Q&A forum because the post was so popular!

Here are some of my pictures:

Top left: In the bowl we have mixed 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast, and 1 1/2 cups water. Then we let it rise overnight (or at least 12 hours).
Top right: In the morning it looked like this
Bottom left: While you preheat the oven to 450F with your enamel cast iron pot in it, you shape the dough into a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes. My dough ball deflated quite a bit (this part needs improvement).
Bottom right: After baking; at least it turned golden! 

We considered it successful! We look forward to experimenting with the recipe more. I'd like to try with half whole wheat flour. The post also mentions mixing in other ingredients (like rosemary, lemon zest, and gruyere cheese) for a fun twist. Hopefully at some point my bread won't be so deflated too.

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