Clean Out Your Fridge by Baking Some Bread

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If you happen to visit Pinterest in the last five years or so, you’ve no doubt seen a recipe or ten for a three-ingredient, bake-and-bake bread. There is a reason these recipes are so popular. Not only are these loaves impressive in terms of the amount of work involved, but they are also the perfect vehicle for anything from a few ounces of cheese to a single serving of vegetables or fruit that you want to get out of the fridge.

I always use Girls with Dough’s simple recipe, but I take baking expert A.A. Newton’s advice to lower the temperature and increase the baking time so the middle doesn’t get stuck. To make your own bread, you will need :

  • 3 cups medium-strength flour (add more for kneading)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 3/4 to 1 cup (less if you want to mix, especially if you are adding more water or oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (not too hot, but warm enough to be comfortable on your skin).

You can add almost anything to this dough, but there are loose rules to follow.

  • If you are using tasty, oily ingredients (such as the Italian sausage pictured above), you may want to process these a bit and drain the crispy skin thoroughly on paper towels.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be slightly cooked to release flavor and excess moisture. Apples are especially delicious sautéed in a little butter and sprinkled with salt.
  • If adding non-meat pickles, such as olives or peppers, quickly chop them with a knife and pat dry with paper towels.
  • This bread has a great gluten structure and will sag in places if you eat a heavy meal.

Once the mix is prepared, combine the first three ingredients in a bowl and whisk together with a fork or wire whisk. Gradually add the goodness, breaking up any lumps so that the powder is distributed throughout.

Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until a fluffy dough forms. Cover the bowl with cling film and let stand overnight in a warm place in the house until bubbles are visible and the top is flat. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When the temperature rises, cover a Dutch oven or other cast iron pan with a lid and place in the oven. Flour the top of the dough and turn out onto parchment paper. Dust your hands with flour, pinch the dough into a ball, and place seam side down on the paper.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. Once rested, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and place the entire situation, including the parchment paper, in a bowl. Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour; after 60 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes.

Let the bread cool slightly, then tear it into shiny pieces or gently saw it. You don’t need butter for such good bread, but it is still better to spread it on. Spread a small amount of butter on all the bread.