Have you heard of Artisian Bread in 5 Minutes a Day? I just discovered it- thanks to Pinterest. I made some heavenly bread this week.
It's a really simple recipe- one of the easiest breads I have ever made, really. The directions are long, but once you do it once, you understand & it's simple. I took this bread to my family's for dinner this week & everyone was raving about it.
The best part, is that you can make this dough & store it in your fridge to cook whenever you want. It has a crispy crunchy crust that I love!
3 cups lukewarm water (you can use cold water, but it will take the dough longer to rise. Just don’t use hot water or you may kill the yeast)
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons Salt
6 1/2 cups (2-pounds) unbleached all-purpose flour (I used half wheat flour)
(If you use half wheat, add about 1/4 c. honey to take away the bitterness of the wheat flour)
Mixing the dough:In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded container, dump in the water and add the yeast 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. But, after the initial 2 hour rise it will pretty much fill it. Don't punch down the dough. Just let it settle by 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 much easier to handle when it is chilled. It is intended for refrigeration and use over the next two weeks, ready for you anytime. The flavor will deepen over that time, developing sourdough characteristics.
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. (If your dough breaks off instead of stretching like this your dough is probably too dry and you can just add a few tablespoons of water and let it sit again until the dough absorbs the additional water.)
Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes.
Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears and form it into a ball. Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper…
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the center rack, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom (never use a glass pan for this or it will shatter), which will be used to produce steam. (I have used my baking stone a lot & it has lots of oil on it that causes a burning smoke when I preheated it- I set off the smoke alarm- just a warning...)
Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a serrated knife. (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 (the one I’m using is the cast iron) and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color.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.If you have any leftover bread just let it sit, uncovered on the cutting board or counter with the cut side down. If you cover a bread that has a crust it will get soggy.
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