Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Artisan Bread

Here's a recipe for the bread that I absolutely love. I recently mentioned it in another cooking post on my personal blog here. This bread is SO EASY. Requires no kneading, no special attention. It makes 4 loaves but you don't have to make them all at once. And the bread itself is crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Great for dipping in olive oil, for soaking up sauce or gravy, or for spreading with butter just for the heck of it. Try it. You won't be disappointed.

1 1/2 tbsp yeast (about 2 packets)
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
6 1/2 cups flour
cornmeal, water

In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups warm water. Let it sit for a minute or two. Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover but not with airtight lid. Let dough rise at room tempeature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours). In our house, which is cold in the wintertime, I usually let it rise 3-5 hours.

Get ready to bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as 2 weeks.

When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

Dust loaves with flour. Slash top with sharp knife 2 or 3 times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam (this is what will give the bread it's crusty yummy exterior). Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool.

Yeild 4 loaves.

- If you don't have a pizza stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.
- If the dough is refrigerated, it will need a little longer to warm up before you bake it. Maybe an hour, maybe 90 minutes depending on the temp of your house. Ours is cold, so it takes awhile.
- This dough will keep in your fridge for up to 2 weeks, so you don't have to make it all at once if you don't want to.
- I wish I could find the link for this recipe. There was an article about it in the New York times a couple years ago and our friend referred it to us.

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