Important Note: I use an 8 qt. Instant Pot and this recipe is written for that size. This gives me a large batch of beans, which I love! If you are using a 6 qt. Instant Pot, use exactly HALF of these amounts, but still fill your pot up to the 1/2 full mark when adding water.
Measure out 4 cups of dry beans, picking out any foreign material, pebbles, etc. Rinse well with several changes of water. (I just use the metal pot insert.)
Add all ingredients to Instant Pot.
Add water to the 1/2 full mark.
Be sure your valve is in the correct position per your IP's instructions.
Set Instant Pot for 25-30 minutes (older beans take longer).
When time is up, allow to naturally release for about 40 minutes.
Release remaining pressure, if any.
Remove bay leaves, very important!
(Read the following whole sentence 1st!) Drain the cooked beans in a colander, reserving some cooking water.
Mash by hand or with an immersion blender, adding only enough of the reserved water back in to make creamy and of desired consistency.
Add salt to taste. Add more spices if you like.
Enjoy! These beans freeze well, too. They lend themselves well to many dishes, and are even yummy just in a bowl by themselves with some hot sauce. Tip: Since they thicken as they cool, I like to reserve some "bean cooking juice" in the fridge to thin them out with later. Using the bean cooking water is better than adding water, as that dilutes the flavors.