If baking was always this easy garnering results this amazing I might actually start to like it! This is a true no-brainer homemade bread recipe for the baking brain dead among us.
You must use parchment paper, not wax paper, trust me. The cornmeal is essential as is high quality flour; I really like King Arthur all purpose flour. Other manufacture’s bread flowers work fine, feel free to experiment.
This is beer bread and oddly enough your beer of choice does make a difference in aroma and flavor. This is where you get to be creative and personalize the recipe. My favorite loaf thus far came after using Dogfish’s “90 minute IPA”, some seriously crazy stuff! If all you have is a Budweiser or Pabst Blue Ribbon party on, it still gets the job done just at a different level.
A plastic bowl for mixing and proofing is helpful, when the time comes for emptying the contents; the dough won’t stick as much as it does with a glass bowl and it will be easier to clean.
It doesn’t take much skill for this recipe to work but you must have a vessel with a tight fitting lid that can cope with oven temperatures approaching 500 degrees. Pyrex works fine, cast iron or enameled Dutch ovens are perfect. You can even get away with a heavy duty sauce pot with a rigged top, think over-sized lid with some foil on the bottom and a brick on top to force a seal.
The bread will crackle and pop for a few minutes when removed from the oven and you got it right. Place the hot loaf on a wire rack allowing the loaf to fully cool before digging in: if you accomplish this you win a free prize.
3 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup beer
2 Tbs course kosher salt
2 Tbs white vinegar
½ tsp active dry yeast
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add liquid ingredients and stir incorporating everything into sticky dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free place for 8 to 14 hours. Lightly flour a flat surface, empty the contents of bowl. Split the dough in half and knead approximately 5 to 10 times, lightly flouring hands so the dough doesn’t stick. Shape into a ball and place it on a greased sheet of parchment paper that has been coated with cornmeal. Allow it to rise in a covered bowl for about two hours in a warm and draft free place. Pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees about 45 minutes before your rise will be completed. Place the oven rack low enough to accommodate your vessel of choice. Remove dough from proofing bowl and set on the counter, dust the top with flour and score the top using a razor blade or sharp knife, a plus sign works great. Place the dough with the parchment paper inside your vessel, put the lid on and set your timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove and set aside the lid, add a wired temperature probe if you have one and shut the oven door, reduce temperature to 450. When the internal temperature reads about 195 to 200 remove the loaf. If you do not have a probe, eyeball it and use your sense of smell, no more than 15 minutes additional cooking time unless you’re dealing with altitude….tops. In my experience a total cooking time of 35 to 40 minutes is almost always perfect. When finished, remove the loaf and get it out of the vessel and onto a wire rack for cooling.