Thursday, September 29, 2011

artisan bread in 5 minutes a day.

Yes, I scoffed.  No way can you make artisan bread in 5 minutes a  day... BUT I was proven wrong, and it's true, you can actually prepare artisan bread everyday in 5 minutes (30 minutes baking time).  So if I keep this up my kitchen will ALWAYS smell like fresh bread! Yum.

It's a really simple process with what I think is a lot of steps, but the basic premise is that it's a no knead dough that's quite wet which allows you to make a lot of dough at once and store it in your refrigerator for up to two weeks, and then just pull out a pound or so of dough whenever you want a small loaf. It's great for many reasons, no stale bread, no moldy bread, always having fresh bread, a perfect side to soups and stews, hearty for the winter, great for 2-3 sandwiches, delicious alone or with a slice of cheese, it's just perfect bread.  Also, the longer you wait to bake the dough, the stronger the dough will become, turning into a sour dough, and it's absolutely delicious.

The bread is a basic fresh boule which means... round... so it's a basic french round bread :)

So here's how you do it!

Basic French Boule (5 minutes a day artisan bread)

3 cups of lukewarm water (warm but not hot enough to kill the yeast)
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp coarse sea salt
6 cups of white flour (because this bread only rises once, whole wheat flour tends to be too heavy, but if you want to substitute whole wheat for white, use both and use more white than whole wheat... :S)

1. First you add the salt and the yeast to the water in a large bowl, you don't need to worry too much about what the yeast is going, just dump it in and get the flour ready.

2. Next you level off 6 cups of flour and dump it into the water and stir.  Don't knead the dough, but stir until you have a really wet dough.

3. Cover loosely and allow the dough to rise at room temperature from 2-5 hours.  You want the dough to double in size.  Once that's done, it's best to put the dough in the fridge in a container with a lid that's popped open, you don't want the lid completely closed.  Wait at least three hours or overnight before you bake your first loaf.

4.  The dough can stay in the fridge for up to two weeks, and now it's the easy part.  Every time you want bread, just give yourself 5 minutes to get the dough ready and 30 minutes to bake it :) That means fresh bread with soup for dinner!

5.  When you're ready to make the bread, preheat the oven to 450*, sprinkle the dough with some flour and scoop out 1 pound or a bout a grapefruit sized amount of dough and put the rest of the dough in the fridge.  Shape the dough by dropping it back in forth between your hands until it loosely resembles a ball, use flour, it's going to be sticky!  Slowly begin to pull the dough gently from the sides and gathering it at the bottom, you want the top as round as possible, and the bottom will become flat while baking.  Then when you're ready to do the final shaping, put the dough onto a pizza peal or a cookie sheet that's been dusted with cornmeal (you don't want the bread to stick!)

6. Sprinkle some more flour on to the top of the unbaked loaf and run a serrated knife across the top creating whatever design you choose, a grid, three lines, a circle?  Anything.  All this does is allows the bread to grow while it's baking.

7.  Now you're ready to bake the bread!  The magic to this bread is  in two factors, not kneading it, and in steam baking.  When you're ready to put the bread into the oven, first put a broiler pan with about 1 cup of hot water on the shelf below where your cookie sheet or pizza stone will be going, then put in your bread and close the door quickly.

8.  ABSOLUTELY NO PEEKING FOR 30 MINUTES!  Letting the steam escape while the bread is baking will harm the process.  I promise in 30 minutes you will have a perfect loaf of bread..  It will get quite brown on top, but the insides will be beautiful and chewy!  The steam makes a really crusty crust with a soft center!

and that's that! Enjoy! Just pull off another piece of dough whenever you want another loaf!


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