My new oven came last week. I had been without one for a month. And before that, the oven that I had didn’t work properly. So with this new and WONDERFUL piece of kitchen equipment in place, I couldn’t wait to try out my favorite bread recipe. I’ve been making this recipe for years, but for the past 3 years, it hasn’t ever turned out right because my oven wouldn’t hold a consistent temperature. My amazing sister-in-law gave me a copy of the book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day which has a gazillion recipes based on the basic technique I’ve always made. I haven’t tried any of them out due to my wonky oven issues. So now…game on! I tried the basic artisan loaf today just to make sure that it was the old oven that was defective, not me. The recipe went together perfectly. This recipe is widely available all over the internet, but I’ll post it here as well just in case you want to give it a try. As long as your oven heats to 450 and stays there, this recipe is totally fool-proof.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
- 3 cups lukewarm water (just slightly warmer than body temperature)
- 1 Tbsp. granulated yeast
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
- 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- cornmeal or parchment paper for the pizza peel
1. Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl. I use my kitchen-aid mixer with a dough hook.
2. Add yeast, salt, and flour. The yeast does not need to dissolve first. Just throw it all in. (hint: to make sure your cups are consistent, use a butter knife to sweep the excess flour off the top of the measuring cup)
3. Mix the ingredients until they are well combined and there are no dry spots. If you are mixing by hand, you will be TIRED. If you have a kitchen-aid, I highly recommend you use it. It’s not necessary, but it makes this recipe beyond easy to throw together. The dough will be very sticky and will adhere to the bowl when you are done.
4. Let the dough rise on the counter. Cover the bowl with some kind of a lid. I put a plate on top of my kitchen-aid mixing bowl. Make sure the lid isn’t air tight. The dough is going to release gasses that will need to escape as it rises. This rise should take about 2 hours.
5. Store the dough in the refrigerator for up to a week. When you are ready to bake, continue with the rest of the recipe.
6. On baking day, dust the top of the dough with flour. Using a serrated knife, cut off a chunk of dough about the size of a grapefruit.
7. Dust it with flour again (do NOT incorporate the flour…you are just keeping it from sticking to your hands here). Then gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides. You’ll rotate the ball 1/4 turn as you do this. You’ll end up with a ball of dough that has a bunch of “ends” on the bottom. That’s ok…it will all work itself out in the baking. The top of the loaf should look nice and smooth.
8. Let the loaf rest on a pizza peel dusted with corn meal, or on a piece of parchment paper (I prefer the parchment method) for 20 minutes.
9. After 20 minutes, place a pizza stone or pan in the oven, and place an empty broiler pan on the bottom shelf. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and let the dough rest for another 20 minutes with the pizza stone and broiler pan inside.
10. Once the oven is preheated, dust the top of the loaf with flour, and cut 1/2 inch deep slices across the dough. Use a serrated knife for this.
11. Then take out the pizza stone and transfer the loaf to the hot stone. Since I use parchment, I just pick up the paper off the counter and plop it down.
12. Put the pizza stone back in the oven and add 1 cup of hot water to the empty broiler pan. It will seriously sizzle….close the door FAST. The steam is what gives the bread its awesome, crunchy crust. ***Caution*** Do NOT use a glass pan to hold the hot water…it will shatter as soon as you pour the water in. I figured this out the hard way, folks
13. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes. If you are using parchment, remove the paper after the bread has baked for 20 minutes. Your bottom crust will get crispier that way.
14. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. I know…it’s hard. But the texture will be much better that way.
You can store the remaining dough in the fridge for a week, and bake it off as you need it. And that’s it! No kneading! I find bread-making tricky because the process is so long. It seems I never start soon enough and then we are waiting for bread to come out of the oven while dinner is already ready. So for me, mixing the dough up in the morning works best. Then I throw it in the fridge and finish the rest of the recipe (shaping the loaf, second rise, and baking) during naptime. That gives the bread plenty of time to cool. I can’t wait to try out some of the other recipes in my book!
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