This recipe is so ridiculously easy.  Seriously.  It takes some time, but it’s really easy.  No bread machine needed.  While it helps to have a Kitchen-Aid mix (or something similar) with a hook attachment, it isn’t necessary either.  
 
It may seem a little intimidating at first, but just take it step by step.  The bread is sooo yummy and well worth the time.
 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
1.  Take the warm water, and add the yeast and sugar.  Give it a light stir to dissolve and allow to proof (takes about 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate and get foamy).
2.  While the yeast is proofing, mix the flour and salt in a big bowl.  
3.  Make a well in the flour/salt mixture and pour in the water-yeast-sugar mix.  Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.   This is a sticky step which is why the mixer and hook attachment comes in handy.  Otherwise, using your (clean) hand really does work well for mixing…but again, it’s a sticky step.
4.  Once incorporated, cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit and rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until it is double in bulk.  
     *You’ll know it’s ready when an indentation remains in the dough when touched.
Preheat the oven to 375.
5.  Punch down the dough.  Literally, a light punch will deflate it so that it can be taken out of the bowl.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, into a 16″ x 12″ rectangle.  Cut the dough in half so that you have two 8″ x 12″ rectangles.
6.  Roll up the dough tightly, pushing out any air bubbles as you roll.  Once rolled, gently roll it back and forth to even it out and taper the ends.  Cut several diagonal slashes across the loaves.
7.  Place a few inches apart on a greased cookie sheet, and cover with a damp towel in a warm place to let them rise for another 30 minutes, or until they’ve doubled.
8.  Mix the egg yolk and water, and brush it across the top of the loaves to help create a toasty brown crust.
9.  Bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven, or until golden brown.  
A quick note:  Bread dough is sensitive.  It needs to sit and rise to give it time to relax so that you don’t end up with baseball bats.  Try to be gentle and not overwork it.  It will thank you in the end with soft & yummy bread : )  
 
Enjoy!
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