This weekend I was looking for a bread recipe. Since the weekends are so busy, I wanted to find something that was fairly easy to make. But it still needed to be made from scratch. I found a couple of blogs where the recipes were pretty simple. But then I started finding blogs about the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. This book has about 100 recipes for various types of bread. The trick is the way that the dough is mixed up.
I had to give it a shot to see if it is possible to make bread this easily. I don’t have the book yet, but if this bread works out, I will order the book and do a brief review.
This is a very simple recipe. The only ingredients in this dough are flour, water, yeast and salt.
- 6 1/2 cup flour
- 3 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
- 1 1/2 Tbsp salt
Put the warm water into a container that will hold at least 5 quarts. The water should be close to body temperature, mine was about 95F. Add the yeast to the water and stir until it is mostly dissolved.
Add all the flour to the container and add the salt on top. Mix it all together with a wooden spoon until all parts are moistened. The dough will be fairly loose and will form to the shape of the container.
Allow the dough to rise until it begins to flatten on top. It appears to fall in upon itself. This is where this technique varies from the way I usually make bread. I’m used to allowing the dough to rise until doubled. This technique allows the dough to keep rising until it falls.
From what I’ve read, the dough can be used right now, but it is easier to work with after it has been refrigerated over night. I decided to put the dough in the fridge and make a loaf of bread on Sunday.
On bake day, sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Reach in the container and grab out a chunk that’s about the size of a grapefruit, this should be about 1 pound.
Work the dough to stretch the edges of the dough to the bottom. Add flour to the surface of the ball to keep it from sticking to your hands. This should take no more than 1 minute.
Sprinkle cornmeal onto a pizza peel or an edge-less cookie sheet. Set the dough ball on the cornmeal and allow the dough to rest for about 45 minutes. During this time, the dough will rise and warm up to about room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450F, my oven takes about 15 minutes, so be sure to include this in the rise time. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and the broiler pan on the bottom rack. After the dough rises, dust with flour and slash the top with a serrated knife. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone with a quick forward motion. Hopefully the dough will slide off the sheet. Unfortunately mine did not and I had to use an icing spatula to slide it off. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan and close the door to the oven. This will create steam and will help form the crust.
Bake the bread for about 30 minutes or so. The crust should be nicely browned and firm. A tester inserted in the bottom should come out clean.
The loaf on the left used the cornmeal technique and ended up misshapen. The one on the right was baked on a piece of parchment paper. The box says the parchment is good to 420F, but the paper didn’t even brown. I will use the parchment paper until I’m able to get a pizza peel.
A batch of dough makes 3 loaves of bread. I did the 2 free-form loaves shown above, and I tried making a loaf in a loaf pan. I used just over a pound of dough for each loaf. The last pound of dough was stickier than the other 2 loaves. It didn’t rise as much as I would have liked, but it turned out okay. Next time I will try using 1 1/2 or 2 pounds of dough in a loaf pan.
How did it turn out? Pretty good. The crust is chewy and it tastes good. The next time I make this, I will do 2 loaves in loaf pans to see if it fills the pan more. I will make this again, and I will buy the book. I already have it on my wish list. Once I get it, I’ll try some of the recipes and do a review of the book.