Sunday, February 21, 2010

Artisan Bread

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 loaf! This bread has a unique rustic taste and texture. I made three small loaves yesterday and put the rest of the dough in the refrigerator to bake later in the week. We used one loaf today with a little butter and homemade jam for breakfast and paired it with cheese for grilled sandwiches for lunch. The other two loaves I used as bread bowls for dinner tonight.

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. You heard me right -- weeks! When you want fresh-baked crusty 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! Here's the recipe...

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes

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

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, 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


These photos are from the bread I made with this recipe.
Above is the bread bowl we had for dinner...
Cheesy Potato Leek Soup w/ tons of veggies & chicken!