Friday, October 28, 2011

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

We are addicted to this bread.  So much, in fact that I am getting rid of my bread maker.  I don't need it with this recipe.  It is easier than the bread maker, takes less ingredients, and in my opinion is far superior.  I can make this bread in less time than I can run in a store when I am out and about.  I know it sounds too good to be true, but this bread is fabulous.  I don't add the water to the oven like the original recipe calls for because I like a chewier crust.  This also makes a great pizza dough.  I do like my basic dough a tad better, but seeing how I almost always have this dough made, it is easier to just use this. 
This takes less than 10 minutes to mix up the dough and less than 5 minutes to get ready for baking.  NO KNEADING!  We have fresh baked bread probably 4 nights a week with our meal.  LOVE it!!
The link has great step by step directions, but it is so easy and really hard to mess up. 
My mom says it tastes just like what her Italian grandmother used to make.  I love how it is a rustic bread and wonderful with pasta or soups.  This is the least intimidating bread I have ever seen or made.  Go for it!

recipe slightly adapted from

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 TBSP yeast
  • 1 1/2 TSBP salt (not coarse)
  • 1 1/2 TBSP sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups flour (I sub 1 c. whole wheat and 1 c. oat flour)
In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded tupperware dump in the water and add the yeast, sugar and salt.
Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a long handled wooden spoon.

Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, as you can see it will be a wet rough dough.

Put the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut. You want the gases from the yeast to escape.

Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise. When you first mix the dough it will not occupy much of the container.  It will rise after the initial 2 hour and will pretty much fill it. DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! It will settle itself.

The dough will be flat on the top and some of the bubbles may even appear to be popping. (If you intend to refrigerate the dough after this stage it can be placed in the refrigerator even if the dough is not perfectly flat. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator.) The dough can be used right after the initial 2 hour rise, but it is easier to handle when it's chilled.  As it sits, it will take on more sourdough characteristics.  The flavor deepens with time.

It will collapsed in the fridge, but this is totally normal for the dough. It will never rise up again in the container.

Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.

You should notice that the dough has a lot of stretch once it has rested. You can add a bit of water if it isn't. 

Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough, about 1/3 or 1/4th of the original  depending on the size loaf you want (I do 1/4th for us, 1/3rd with company) using kitchen shears and form it into a ball tucking under the edges to make a nice round smooth top.  Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper… (or rest it on a generous layer of corn meal on top of a pizza peel and I put the cornmeal on the parchment too!)

Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes, (although letting it go 60 or even 90 minutes will give you a more open hole structure in the interior of the loaf. This may also improve the look of your loaf and prevent it from splitting on the bottom. ) You will notice that the loaf does not rise much during this rest, in fact it may just spread sideways, this is normal for our dough.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the center rack for 20 minutes or longer, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom (never use a glass vessel for this or it will shatter), which will be used to produce steam. (The tray needs to be at least 4 or 5 inches away from your stone to prevent it from cracking.)
*(or Cast Iron Pizza Pan- which will never crack and conducts heat really well. Be careful to dry it after washing rinsing with water or it will rust)

Sprinkle the loaf with a bit of flour and cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a serrated knife (I use kitchen shears). (If your slashes are too shallow you will end up with an oddly shaped loaf and also prevent it from splitting on the bottom.)

Slide the loaf into the oven onto the preheated stone and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color. (I skip the water and bake it 30 minutes or less)
If you used parchment paper you will want to remove it after about 20-25 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Continue baking the loaf directly on the stone for the last 5-10 minutes.

Allow the loaf to cool on a rack until it is room temperature. If you cut into a loaf before it is cooled you will have a tough crust and a gummy interior. It is hard to wait, but you will be happy you did! Make sure you have a nice sharp bread knife that will not crush the bread as you cut. Or you can tear it apart as they do in most of Europe.

Dough lasts for up to 2 weeks!

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