Tuesday, February 01, 2011

{ Artisan Bread }


Unfortunately, I'm home. Yesterday I was supposed to fly to my daughter and son-in-law's home in Nebraska. Right about now I was expecting to be surrounded by little boys who call me "Grandma." Instead I'm surrounded by snow and temperatures well below zero. You heard me right. Well below zero ... -19 to be exact. I believe last week at this time I was bragging about Colorado's 65 degree weather. It doesn't pay to be a braggart. I need to remember that. Anyway, yesterday I was feeling downright depressed about this sudden change in plans, so I buried my face in carbohydrates and didn't come up for air till late in the evening. {And that, my friends, is a fairly accurate representation of how I deal with crisis.}

I've baked my share of bread in my life, but I've never found such a simple and simply delicious bread recipe. Seriously, you've got to try this crusty on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside easy-to-make loaf! This bread has a unique rustic taste and texture. I made two small loaves yesterday and put the rest of the dough in the refrigerator to bake later in the week. I toasted one -- or maybe 5 -- slices of bread and then, for good measure, spread on several pounds of butter and homemade jam. It was delicious...

It's easy to have fresh bread whenever you want it with this recipe. To start, just mix the dough and let it sit for two hours. No kneading required. Then shape and bake a loaf, and refrigerate the rest to use over the next couple weeks. That's right -- weeks! When you want some fresh-baked bread, take some dough, shape it into a loaf, let it rest and rise for about 40 minutes, then bake. Your house will smell like a bakery, and your family and friends will love you for it. Seriously, it's the easiest bread recipe in the world! Only four ingredients! Here's the recipe...

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1. In a large plastic bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be soft. Loosely cover. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and lumpy bottom. Put rounded dough on cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest and rise 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place an oven proof dish with about 1+ cup water on the bottom rack in your oven. (This will ensure a crispy crust.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

4. After the dough has risen, dust top of dough with a little flour, slash top with serrated knife three times. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes.

Tip: To keep the "crusty-like" crust on the bread, don't wrap it or put it in a tightly sealed container after baking.

Yield: about 4 loaves

 I can testify to the fact that this bread
cannot compare to having two sweet little boys snuggling in your lap, 
but it might help you drown your sorrows
until that day comes!

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