Great bread requires time and patience.

But "just bread" is almost foolproof.

The other day I forgot the yeast. When I went to check the dough, it looked the same as it had ninety minutes before. This is always a clue that something is wrong.

Years ago I'd have tossed the dough and started over. But this time I added some dry yeast to some lukewarm water, let it foam, added it to the dead dough, and remixed it. In an hour I had something ready to bake.

Breadbaking is a forgiving hobby, and a simple one to begin. All you need is flour, salt, water, and yeast.

 

That's bread.

And because you made it, there are no additives or chemicals in it. Just what you put in. Figure on four hours to make a loaf of bread, but for about 95% of that time, you'll simply be an observer. Not even that, really—you don't have to observe. Just wait, let the dough rise, let it rise again, and bake.

In time you'll want to experiement with different flours—whole wheat, rye, gluten-free; and different ingredients—seeds, raisins, nuts. And you can move on to cinnamon swirly loaves and twisted crusty ones and longitudinal baguettes. The principle never changes: flour, salt, water, and yeast. On a salt-free diet? Flour, water, and yeast.

Since we're all going to be isolated for a while, give it a try. And if you have any questions, email me. I've already made most of the mistakes.