It doesn’t get simpler than this. A fantastic everyday bread with just four basic ingredients. No kneading involved, just mix together and let the yeast and the stove do all the work. You can easily fit this bread around your schedule, leaving the dough to rest for 2 hours or overnight or any time in between. This bread has been a staple at Jubilee for two decades, ever since they learned to make it from Bosnian refugees — easy to multiply for the entire community. The most complicated maneuver is actually getting the dough into the bread pans, battling against the elastic power of gluten!
I must warn you, however, that this recipe is deceptively simple. With so few ingredients and steps, each requires greater care. Consider the temperature of the room and don’t play around with the measurements. An overnight rise works better on a warm night than in the middle of winter. If it gets too cold, the yeast will be sluggish or even go dormant, especially since there is no sugar or honey to sweeten the deal. Took me five tries to finally get it right, after all my previous attempts turned out either salty and gummy or completely flavorless. Cutting the amount of salt in half (but not more!), and letting the dough rest for just a few hours during the day rather than through a freezing cold night, made all the difference. Best of all, it’s some of the tastiest bread I’ve ever had!
With two loaves of fresh bread crying to be eaten, and a bunch of celery and parsley left over from Christmas and fading fast, it was time to make soup! Always forget how wonderful celery is, and that sometimes the simplest preparations are the best. Luxuriously smooth and creamy. I’ve done my best to estimate the amounts I used below, though as usual I didn’t measure. Alongside a grilled cheese sandwich, made for a quick, warming, and delicious winter meal!
4 cups warm water
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (A 7g packet contain 2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 1/2 pounds flour (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon salt
Note: You can use any combination of whole wheat and white flour you wish (bread flour, if you have it). I’ve always made it with half whole wheat and half all-purpose. If you use whole wheat, you will likely need to increase the amount of water by 1/4-3/4 cup. Start with the four cups of water indicated in the recipe and add a little at a time as necessary to enable all of the flour to be incorporated.
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let proof for abut 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt, then gradually stir into the yeast mixture to form a thick dough. Cover and leave to ruminate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Oil two standard loaf pans generously, then divide the dough between them. They should be about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Let rest 10-30 minutes. Place the loaves in a cold oven and leave with the pilot light (or lowest setting) for 15 minutes. Then bump up the temperature and bake at 500ºF for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 300ºF and bake for an additional 45 minutes or until bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Place on racks to cool, then slice and enjoy!
Blended Celery Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
Half of a yellow onion, chopped
1 head of celery (or at least most of it)
3 small yellow potatoes, cubed
About 1/4 cup parsely, finely minced, or to taste
6-8 cups of water
Salt and pepper, to taste
At the bottom of a large pot, saute onion in oil until translucent, then add celery and saute for a few more minutes. Add the potatoes, water, and salt and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add the parsley and pepper and simmer for 3-5 minutes more. Blend soup in a blender (in batches if necessary), return to pot, and adjust thickness and seasoning to taste. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!