December 17, 2010
This recipe is from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and is such a good recipe that is extremely simple to make. What can be better than mixing up a pot of ingredients, and just letting it sit in the refrigerator to do all the work. When you are ready for fresh bread, you just break off a hunk of the dough, leaving the rest covered in the fridge. The method allows you to have fresh baked bread all week long, without having to go through the long process every day. This bread goes wonderfully with a bowl of warm soup, or it can be used for tasty panini's. If you're feeling extra naughty, you can just eat it by the handful, all day long.
(from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day)
3 Cups lukewarm water (105F)
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp Kosher salt (or 2 1/4 tsp table salt)
6 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
cornmeal to dust your resting surface
For the Dough: Put the water in a large container (big enough to hold all of the risen dough - I use a 4qt stock pot). Sprinkle the yeast and salt into the water. Add all of the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon until everything is combined and no streaks of flour are left.
Loosely cover the container, not airtight, and let the dough rise and then deflate a little. About 3 hours. You can now bake your bread, or store in the refrigerator.
To bake: Dust your hands and the surface of the dough with some flour, and grab a grapefruit sized handful of dough. Gently pull the sides of the dough toward the bottom, rotating the dough until you get a smooth, round boule shape. Be gentle and try not to deflate any gas bubbles. The bottom doesn't have to be smooth, you won't see it:)
Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet with cornmeal to prevent sticking, and lay the formed dough on it. Let it rest, uncovered, for a least 40 minutes, or longer if the dough was chilled. For best results, bake the bread when no longer chilled. About 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, put a pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven, and put a broiler pan on the bottom rack. You can use any oven safe dish if you don't have a broiler pan. Preheat your oven to 450F. Dust some flour on the top of your loaf, and made 1/4-inch deep slashes on the surface of the dough.
Once the oven has preheated, slide the loaf onto the pizza stone. Pour a cup of warm water into the bottom broiler pan and shut the oven door to keep the steam inside. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until you get a nice brown crust. Let cool completely on a wire rack. This bread is wonderful with a warm bowl of soup, or some comforting mac and cheese.
*Note: You can also bake this bread in a Dutch oven, which eliminates the need to use the broiler pan for steam. I prefer using my Dutch oven for this bread, since it makes the crust crunchier. Just place your Dutch oven in the oven to preheat, instead of using a pizza stone. Check your manufacturer's instructions for the maximum safe oven temp for your Dutch oven lid. My lid is only safe to 400F, since the handle is plastic. I plan to replace the plastic handle with a metal one from the hardware store, but in the meantime I just cover my Dutch oven with a baking sheet when making this bread.