Thursday, June 28, 2012

Artisan Bread

Artisan Bread

This is an amazing, meal changing recipe. 

The recipe and technique are simple and quick.  The results are consistently delicious.

The idea is that rather than spending time developing the gluten in the bread through kneading, the dough is allowed to rest for two hours on the counter and 24 hours in the refrigerator.  Time is the ingredient that does all of the work for you.  The large batch of dough will last for 2 weeks in the fridge and will make around 5 (1 pound) loaves of artisan style bread. 

The bread has a delicious crusty exterior, and a tender and light middle. 

A perfect accompaniment for any meal, with or without a spread of softened butter, this bread has become a new staple in our house.  At a mere 40 cents a loaf, how can I not offer a freshly baked loaf for several dinners a week?

If you are new to bread making, or don’t have a bread machine, this is a great way to start baking bread.

Here’s how to do it:

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Salt
6 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3 Cups lukewarm Water


Start by measuring the flour into a bowl.


Add the yeast.  I’ve been using 2 packs of regular active dry yeast. 
 You could probably save even more money if you bought the yeast and flour in bulk.


Stir in the warm water.  Just warm tap water is fine.


Then add the salt. 
Like any true artisan style bread, there are only these 4 ingredients.


Here is a picture of the dough.  This is a very wet dough.

You need to cover the dough, but allow some airflow and gasses to escape. 
 This is a salad bowl that has a small gap in the lid.  It seems to work well. 


Let the mixture sit on the counter for 2 hours.  It will raise up and then start to deflate. 
After that, put in in the fridge. 
The batter will last up to 2 weeks,
so you can bake it one batch at a time, as you want to.


When you are ready to bake a loaf,
 put a generous sprinkling of corn meal or flour onto your
 wooden cutting board or peel.


Grab a handful the size of a grapefruit and use your kitchen sheers
 to cut the rest of the dough away.  The best size is around a 1 pound loaf.
Gently roll it into a ball shape.  Or you can elongate it into a small loaf shape.


Allow it to rest and raise for 40 to 90 minutes until it is near double in size. 
 Slice 3 horizontal cuts across the top. 
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with your baking stone and a metal pan underneath it. 
Do not use a glass baking pan, as it will shatter once you add the water.


This is the set-up in my oven.  Slide the loaf off of the peel and onto the baking stone. 
 Quickly add some water to the metal pan and shut the door to the oven. 
Set the timer for 30 minutes.  To know that the bread is done, it will have a nice medium brown crust, and it will sound hollow when you tap on it.
Allow the bread to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing into it.

Artisan Bread 2

This bread is so yummy! 
The crust is perfectly crunchy and the inside is very tender. 
 I love it with a spread of softened butter, but honestly it is good plain too!

If you are interested in watching a video of the process click here.

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