Thursday, March 24, 2011

Artisan Bread

I just love this recipe for Artisan Bread, that Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François came up with. I love homemade bread, but I hate taking the time it usually takes to make it. Having to mix, knead it, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise again...It's just too time consuming. This recipe for Artisan Bread is made without any kneading! You mix it in a bucket or big bowl, let it set on the counter for 2 hours. Then, you can either make a loaf or two, or let it sit in the fridge till you're ready to bake it-up to 2 weeks!! The artisan free-form loaf called the French boule is the basic model for all the no-knead recipes. The round shape (boule in French means “ball”) is the easiest to master.

If you make the following recipe, you'll end up with enough dough for 4 loaves. They tell you to pull off a grapefruit-size ball. An easier way for me, is to mix it all in a plastic square bowl I have, and when it's mixed and raised, I mark the dough down the middle both ways (across the middle to form a + so to speak. Then, i just cut the dough and form the ball. I usually make two loaves at a time.

Basic Master Recipe

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 TBSP Salt
1 1/2 TBSP Yeast (active dry or quick rise)
6 1/2 cups flour (level)

Pour yeast into water. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well,  but do NOT knead. Use a wooden spoon or other to mix it with. Cover with lid-not airtight. Lift a corner if needed, to allow gases to escape. Let rest on counter, then you can either make a loaf or two, or put in refrigerator for up to two weeks. 

When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough so it won't stick to your hand. Cut off a ball about the size of a grapefruit (or divide your bowl like I do, into fourths and remove a fourth). Dip the ball in flour and then turn in your hand, pulling the dough down and under itself; make a nice even ball-should only take about 30 seconds. 

Put a little corn meal or flour on the counter or a pizza peel. Place the dough on top. Let sit for 40 minutes to an hour. Does not need to be covered. 

At about 30 minutes into resting time, preheat oven to 450 degrees. If baking on a stone, place the stone in the oven to preheat. Have a metal pan on the bottom rack of oven. Slice bread across the top with little, quick cuts to create a bit of an Artisan design. (see picture) Put bread on stone or cookie sheet and into oven. Place 1 cup hot water in pan and close oven door. This water will help steam the bread and make it crispy. 

Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Take out and let cool on a rack before cutting. The recipe doesn't call for this, but I pour a little olive oil across the top of the bread when it's done baking to soften up the crust. I like the crispy crust, but it makes it hard to slice. Sprinkling the oil across the top and down the sides, makes it easier to slice. 

If you buy their book, you can have other recipes for other types of breads using this basic recipe, as well as sandwiches, rolls, etc.  


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