TOLEDO, Ohio — I developed this recipe as I sat at a small cafe in Tuscany with my late grandfather... 

Just kidding; I've never been to Tuscany, and I'm not going to share my life story either. What I will do is share with you the easiest - and cheapest - bread recipe I've ever seen. Not only that, but this loaf is going to look and taste so much better than the store stuff with minimal effort on your part. You're welcome.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/3 cups cool water
  • 1/2 tsp. active yeast
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt

Optional: Pick your favorite toppings! I usually use big chunks of salt, crushed red pepper, dried garlic and onion flakes, oregano or even just bagel seasoning (that has all the good stuff in it anyway).

You will also need a 6-8 quart oven-safe covered pot, like a cast-iron Dutch oven, which is what I use when using this recipe.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Proofing: 1st proof: 12-16 hours, 2nd proof: 2 hours

(If you are new to baking, proofing just means you are letting the dough rise, so I always do this first proof overnight. It literally does the work for you while you sleep, it's amazing) 

Baking: 50 - 60 minutes

  • Combine flour, yeast and salt into a bowl.
  • Add water.
  • Stir with a spoon, switching to hands once it gets more difficult to mix (make sure to flour your hands first!) Dough should be wet and sticky.
  • Cover your mixing bowl in plastic wrap and let your dough rest on your kitchen counter (or a table or wherever) for 12 - 16 hours. When dough has tiny bubbles and smells yeasty, you'll know it's good.
Dough first proof
Jenson Strock
  • Flour your hands and your counter or a cutting board. Place dough on your work space and sprinkle with a bit more flour. Fold the your dough over on  itself two or three times, then tuck the edges underneath until its a rough ball.
  • Put a cotton towel in a bowl and sprinkle a good amount of flour all over it. DO NOT use terry cloth (unless you want to bake bits of towel into your loaf).
  • Put your dough ball seam-side down onto the flour-covered towel and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the towel over your dough, or grab another cotton towel to cover it completely. Leave it alone for another two hours.
second proof
Jenson Strock
  • About 30 minutes before your dough is done rising, preheat your oven to 425 - 450 degrees. Put your empty dutch oven in the oven while it is preheating. 
  • Within those two hours, your dough should have roughly doubled in size. Very carefully take your Dutch oven out of the oven and put your dough, seam side up, inside. If it goes in lopsided, just shake it a bit. It should all even out when it is baking.
  • If you have toppings you would like to add, do that now! Sprinkle chunks of salt, crushed red pepper (if you'd like a kick) garlic and onion flakes, oregano or really whatever sounds good to you. 
Dough ready
Jenson Strock
  • Pop your dough in the oven, covered, for about 40 - 45 minutes. 
  • Then, carefully remove the Dutch oven and take off the lid. Put it back in the oven to cook your dough, uncovered, for another 5 - 7 minutes. 
  • To see if it's done, you can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should be around 200 degrees when it is finished.
Completed bread
Jenson Strock
  • Take out the Dutch oven and remove the bread, letting it cool before slicing. 

Did you try this recipe? Let us know! Send us your photos to 419-248-1100.

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