I found this recipe on Apartment Therapy and had to try it. They called it 'No-time bread' and claimed it was a good yeast loaf made in an hour. I decided to try it, following their recipe closely but adapting it for my kitchen and preferences. The result: delicious. In fact, it's our new favorite yeast bread.
The crust was similar to a French baguette, but the inside much more like a soft, rich sandwich loaf. It sliced easily, stored well, stayed moist and not too crumbly - and that crust! My first loaf took (as you'll see) about 90 minutes. However, I think if you had your ingredients prepared, moved from on step to the next without getting distracted, it could be done in an hour. Let me know how long it takes you and if you have suggestions to make!
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
Oil for bowl
Pour water into a large microwave-safe bowl and heat to 120° (test it with your pinkie - it should be hot, but not so hot that you can't keep your finger in it). Stir in the sugar, then add yeast. Let sit a few minutes until foamy.
Heat the oven to 450°. Put a Dutch oven, ceramic or stoneware baking dish/loaf pan in to heat up with the oven. Otional: place a cookie sheet in the bottom of your oven. You'll see why later.
Add 3 cups of the flour, salt and vinegar to the yeast mixture and mix well with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon. Add the last 1/2 cup of flour and stir in as much as possible. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough will be smooth and elastic, not sticking to your hands, but maybe to the counter still a bit.
Oil the microwave-safe bowl and place the dough in it, rolling it in the oil. Cover the bowl with a very wet towel. Cover the whole thing with a dry towel and microwave on high for 25 seconds.
Let rest in the microwave for about five minutes.
Microwave for another 25 seconds, then remove.
Let rest and rise for another 15 minutes.
Optional: While waiting, pour 1/2 cup water into the cookie sheet in the bottom of your oven. Be careful - steam is what you're after and it can burn you! The steam will help form a nice crust on the bread.
Gently shape into a ball and place carefully into the hot pan. Quickly cut two or three slashes on the the top with a sharp knife. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature is 200°. (You can add another 1/2 cup of water about 15 minutes into baking, if you want.)
Remove bread from oven and pan. let sit 10 minutes before slicing. Stores well in Ziploc and makes great sandwich bread the next day.