Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Artisan Bread


I've mentioned in my last few menu posts that I've been using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook and I love it.

Truly, if you have not ever made bread at home, and you'd like to, you should use this book. Even if you are an experienced bread-maker, you will find this book to be of great value. I have been making bread for more than 25 years and I never dreamed it could be this easy.

Five minutes a day. Do you know how many "five minutes" you waste in a day? Even really busy people can find five minutes. Of course, that does not include bake time, or rest time, just hands-on time. You do, of course, have to be home for rest time and bake time, but you can be busy doing other things, or just wasting time. ;-)

I am posting the recipe to the Master Recipe because the authors of the book were generous enough to post it at their website. You can use the Master Recipe to make several kinds of bread, including a baguette, a batard, or my boule, pictured above. They have lots of articles on their website, so check it out and see all the great methods they have to show you.

There is a short list of equipment that the authors recommend. I looked into a stone before I made my first loaf and found it to be too pricey for a test drive with this bread method. Maybe somewhere down the line I'll buy one, but I've had success multiple times with this recipe and a cookie sheet, so I'm in no hurry. I plan to try it with my cast iron griddle, as well.

I also found I didn't need a pizza peel. I used my handled wooden cutting board, sprinkled with corn meal, and it worked fine. I might have trouble getting a baguette off the board (or completely on the cutting board), but there's more than one way to skin a cat. I did, however, purchase
lidded plastic tubs for storing the dough. I had no lidded plastic containers large enough to hold one recipe, and I bought two so that I can keep two recipes going at once.

If you are unsure of your own ability, or even think you have nothing to gain from reading the book, check it out at your local library before you take the plunge. I think you'll like it.

Master Recipe
3 1-pound loaves

Printer version
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T. granulated yeast
1 1/2 T. kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for the pizza peel
On mixing day: Mix all ingredients, except cornmeal, with a spoon in a food-safe bucket. Let it rise at room temperature for 2 to 5 hours, then into the fridge for up to two weeks.

On baking day: Sprinkle dough with flour and cut off a piece of dough, about the size of a grapefruit. Adding only as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking to your hands, shape the dough into a ball (watch video at link below). Place on cornmeal-covered pizza peel (or use something else in your kitchen that you think might work, as I did).

Rest for 40 minutes (the bread -- not you). Twenty minutes before baking time heat oven to 450 degrees F. Place an empty broiler tray (or other old sided pan) on the rack below the rack you intend to use for your bread. If you are using a stone, place it in the oven. I placed my cookie sheet in the oven to get it hot.

Dust the loaf with flour and slash the top (mine is a scallop -- you can do anything you like) with a sharp knife. After the oven preheats, quickly slide the loaf off the peel onto the stone or pan. Carefully pour about 1 cup of water into the broiler pan and close oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing (I know it's hard, but do it anyway -- offer it up).

You can watch the author form a boule on this video. You wouldn't want to use as much flour with the dough unless it was wet (as he describes), and ultimately he makes a pita with the dough, so if you want a ball, stop after he makes the ball.


Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

I found the master recipe a few months ago and had been using it on my own even experimenting with some focaccia bread. It is a dream for those of us with yeast phobias! :)
I think I will be asking for the book for my birthday and maybe some lidded containers to go with it!

scmom (Barbara) said...

I found my containers at amazon (where else?).

Abby said...

I'm so afraid of bread, but everywhere I turn someone is praising this book. I'm going to take your advice and look for it at the library.

Debbie said...

I love to bake bread but as we all know it usually takes forever. I would love to get my hands on this book as well. It seems to be right up my alley

Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

I was totally afraid of making bread too. That is what I meant by "Yeast phobia". I used to pass by any recipe that had yeast in it because I thought it would be too difficult but a couple of easy recipes like this one has helped me conquer that fear and my family loves me for it! Try it!

What size containers did you get and do they hold one batch each or a double batch?

scmom (Barbara) said...

Mine are the six quart found at the link in my response above. They hold one batch -- I made the Master Recipe and the Buttermilk.

Jamie Jo said...

Did you write this post for me?

Thanks, if you did! :)

I've checked into it before, but never thought of using my wood cutting board....great idea!

I do have a stone! I printed the recipe and can't wait to try week, after First Communion!

Elizabeth Kay P said...

After reading a menu of yours a few weeks ago I bought the "Healthy Bread" version of Artisan Bread in 5 Min. -- I am making my first recipe tonight, to bake tomorrow! I can't wait. I've been making bread for 5 years, using a grain mill to grind white & red hard wheat. I cannot WAIT to try the fabulous recipes in this book! Thanks so much for sharing. And keep those weekly menus coming -- they really help me!

Crafty P said...

Oh Barbara, I'm so glad you posted this! I told my husband that I'd love for us to learn how to bake bread together this year. It's April (almost May) and we have yet do to that. I'll check the library and get that book. I feel like I may have checked it out already... I love the idea of those containers, too. They would be really great for brining as well!

ps. I have a yeast phobia, too! Why does it scare us so?