Note from Nancy: If you’ve got a standing mixer, this is a breeze. And it’s pretty easy even if you’re using a large mixing bowl, a sturdy spoon and your hands. The dough can be prepared earlier in the day for baking later: just keep it covered, and keep punching it down till baking time.
After all that fine talk from Nancy and me about how simple it is to bake bread, here’s a complicated recipe. It’s really about 90% from George Greenstein’s first rate Secrets of a Jewish Baker but over the years I’ve changed, amended, and otherwise horsed around with his perfectly good recipe in order to customize it to my own perverse tastes. Read this recipe all the way through at least 3 days before you try it.