When we were at Bluestone Farm, I found a battered copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day in the dining room bookcase. I was responsible for lunch the next day and thought that some bread would go well with the soup I had planned to cook. This recipe is one of the easiest I have ever found. If you want fresh, substantial bread without a lot of trouble this is the formula for you.
BOULE(ARTISAN FREE-FORM LOAF)
makes four 1-pound loaves. Recipe is easily doubled or halved.
- 3 cups lukewardm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 1/2 cups unsifted,unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
- Cornmeal for the pizza peel
Mixing and Storing the Dough
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. You can use cold tape water and get an identical final result; then the first rising will take 3 or 4 hours.
2.Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container. Don't worry about getting it all to dissolve.
3.Mix in the flour--kneading is unnecessary: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingrdient measuring cups, by gently scooping up flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula, don't press down into the flour as you scoop or you'll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with dough hook until the mixture is uniform. If you're hand mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with spoon,you can reach into your mixing bowl with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don't knead! You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.
4.Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you're using. Lidded plastic buckets designed for dough storage are readily available. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, approximately 2 hours, epending on the room's temperature and the intial water temperature. Longer rising times, up to about 5 hours, will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight(or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.
On Baking Day
5.The gluten cloak: don't knead, just "cloak" and shape a loaf in 30 to 60 seconds. First, prepare a pizza peel (or wahtever you are going to use to slide the bread into the oven) by sprinkling it liberaally with cornmeal (or whatever your recipe calls for) to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven.
Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough i your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it's not intended to be incorporated into the dough. the bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of unched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resing and baking. the correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.
6. Rest the loaf and let it rise on a pizza peel: Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel. All the loaf to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes (it doesn't need to be covered during the rest period). Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much during this period; more rising will occur during baking.
7.Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
8.Dust and slash: Dust the tope of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slack a 1/4-inch-deep cross, scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serated bread knife.
9.Baking with steam: After a 20-minute preheat, you're ready to bake, even though your oven thermometer won't yet be up to full temperature. With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizzsa peel and onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Because you've used wet dough, there is little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooking rack, for best flavor, texture and slicing.
10. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded container and use it over the next 14 days: You'll find that even one day's storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the 14-day storage period. Refrigerate unused dough in a lidded storage container. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. The dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted over in the refrigerator prior to baking day.
This is the basic or master recipe in this book--the one upon which all the other recipes are based. Once you have mastered this you are ready to branch out into other breads and sweet dough recipes.
If you like to bake, this is a book that should be on your shelves.