This remarkably straightforward recipe makes dough that’s equally as good for baguettes as it is for cinnamon-raisin loaf. The idea is to make a starter dough that provides the base for several loaves through the week.
Put 3 cups of flour, the water, honey, and yeast into a large bowl and whisk together. Allow to stand about fifteen to twenty minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble. Beat in the remaining flour and salt, and stir briskly to make firm dough. Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in it, then set this aside and allow to rise for about one hour at room temperature. Punch the dough down and allow to rise a second time, for one hour.
Generously dust a countertop or board with flour and flour your hands. Knead the dough by pushing from the middle outwards, folding the dough over, then pushing outwards again, adding more flour if it seems sticky. After several turns, you should have a firm, pliant dough. Continue kneading until the texture is as smooth and soft as an earlobe or baby’s bottom.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Shape the dough into two baguettes, two loaves, or three long strands to braid together, and set onto a greased baking sheet. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, about thirty minutes. Then bake until it’s toasty brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 to 50y minutes depending on the size of the loaves.
RAISIN-LOAF VARIATION: After kneading the dough, roll it out into a rectangle about five inches across and eight to ten inches long. Sprinkle a handful of raisins, a little brown sugar, and ground cinnamon over the dough. Starting at the narrow end, roll the dough up and seal it with a little water. Allow it to rise again until doubled, about thirty minutes. Bake the bread until it’s crusty and sounds hollow when tapped, about 20 to 25 minutes.
DINNER ROLLS: After kneading the dough, shape it into balls, about three to four inches in diameter. Allow these to rise until doubled, about twenty minutes. Bake until they’re crusty and sound hollow when tapped, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Reprinted with permission from In Winter's Kitchen, © 2015 by Beth Dooley. Published by Milkweed Editions.