Saturday, December 6, 2008

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Recipe from Jenny:

This is the basic bread recipe from my absolute favorite bread cookbook--Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I make almost all our own bread (and bread products--tortillas, muffins, etc.) and using this book it really does take only a few minutes! The recipe is endlessly adaptive; I think I've only made it exactly as written here once, the first time. I HIGHLY recommend this cookbook!

You'll need a medium pot with a lid or a lidded (but not airtight) plastic food container for the dough (it needs to fit in the fridge). Also, you'll need a stoneware baking sheet and another flat (no sides) baking sheet for rising (or a pizza peel, if you have one, which is what the book calls for).

Basic Bread Recipe

Makes 4 1-lb loaves. Recipe can be doubled or halved.

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbs active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbs coarse salt (or 1 1/4 tbs regular salt)
6 1/2 cups flour
cornmeal for pan

Add the yeast and salt to the water in the pot or bowl in which you'll be storing the dough. Mix in all the flour at once with a wooden spoon or your hands. No kneading is necessary; just mix until all the flour is incorporated and everything is uniformly moist. The dough will be wet and loose. Cover the container and let the dough rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flatten on top), around 2 hours. At this point you can remove some dough to use, but it will be easier to manage if you refrigerate it first. So, either put the covered container in the fridge, or remove some dough to bake.

When you're ready to make a loaf, sprinkle a handful of cornmeal evenly and fairly thickly on the flat sheet. Then sprinkle some flour over the dough in the container and, for a 1-lb loaf, cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough. Hold the mass of dough in your hands, adding a bit of flour if needed, and gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go. Most of the flour will fall off; it's not meant to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the loaf will probably be all bunchy and uneven, but will smooth and flatten out as it rests and bakes. The whole shaping should take less than a minute. Place the ball on the cornmeal-covered flat pan (flatten it a bit if you want) and let it rest for 40 minutes (you don't need to cover it). It might or might not rise a lot during this time, depending on how old the dough is. Put the rest of the dough back in the fridge in the covered container.

20 minutes before baking (ie, halfway through the resting period) put the baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and an empty broiler tray below it. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. After the loaf is finished resting, dust it liberally with flour and slash it a few times with a serrated knife. Slide the loaf off of the flat pan onto the stoneware pan in the oven. Pour a cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan and close the oven to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch on all sides (including the bottom). Remove from the stoneware and allow to cool at least 15 minutes on a cooling rack.


You can substitute another kind of flour for up to half of the flour in the recipe--I usually use 1 cup of rye, 2.5 of whole wheat, and 3 of white. I also often add a couple TBS of sugar and/or oil. There are many more variations and ideas in the book--I've only made a few, but they've all been great. You can also make a larger loaf; I usually use about 1/2 of the dough (of course the baking time is longer), and that makes a loaf big enough for us to eat at dinner with perhaps a piece or two left over. It's so simple that it's easy to make fresh bread every morning! I've never left the dough in the fridge more than 4 days or so, but the book says it should be fine for at least a week.

1 comment:

Commercial Fridge said...

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