I felt bad one day when Julie said that she'd never made bread before. I used to make bread all the time, but I guess not for ages and ages. So we started with an easy recipe from King Arthur, whose recipes always come out great.
True to its name, this bread has a coarse texture and makes splendid toast. I didn't take a photo, but you can follow the link to see how lovely it is at the KA blog (I love that blog's name: FLOURISH!).
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
cornmeal, to sprinkle in pan
1. Whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
2. Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120° and 130°. Be sure to stir the liquid well before measuring its temperature; you want an accurate reading. If you don't have a thermometer, the liquid will feel quite hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would be uncomfortable as bath water.
3. Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.
4. Beat at high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be very soft.
5. Lightly grease an 8½" x 4½" loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.
6. Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.
7. Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it's just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. When you look at the rim of the pan from eye level, you should see the dough, but it shouldn't be more than, say, ¼" over the rim. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour, if you heated the liquid to the correct temperature and your kitchen isn't very cold. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°.
8. Remove the cover, and bake the bread till it's golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°, 22 to 27 minutes.
9. Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.