Monday, March 14, 2011

Master Artisan Bread Recipe

Look how awesome this loaf of bread looks. Now sit back and ponder the following: I made this loaf. And total working time was about 15 minutes. So easy!
The worst part was waiting overnight for the dough to ferment a bit. And it tasted as good as or better than anything I've ever purchased at any of our local bakeries. All you do is whip the dough together, let it rise, and then refrigerate it overnight. The next day, pull out a lump of dough (it makes enough for 4 loaves and stays good in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, becoming more sour doughy as time passes) and let it warm to room temperature. Bake and eat.
A few tips: don't be alarmed when you make the dough and it looks exceedingly sticky. First of all, it's supposed to be sticky. And second, it's not as sticky as it looks. Though it is sticky enough to make forming a smooth ball a bit tricky, as you can see in the picture below.
If you have a pizza stone, this is the perfect opportunity to use it- just make sure it's hot when you slap the bread on it. If you don't have a pizza stone, use a cookie sheet (but no need to preheat it). And finally, it's very important to keep a pan (broiler, if you have one, other pan if you don't) full of water in the oven while the bread bakes. This is the secret to a crispy crust and amazing bread. You MUST try it.

Master Artisan Bread Recipe
Recipe by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg

3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 teaspoons coarse salt
7 1/4 cups (2 lbs. 4 oz) unbleached all purpose flour 
  1. Combine water, yeast and salt in a large bowl. With spoon (or mixer with paddle attachment), stir in flour (dough will be wet). 
  2. Place dough in 5-quart lidded container; cover with lid, but do not snap air tight. Let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate overnight or up to 14 days.
Crusty Boule

1 pound portion of Master Recipe
  1. Hold dough and dust top with flour, quickly shape into ball by stretching surface of dough around to bottom on all four sides, rotating dough a quarter turn as you go.
  2. Place dough on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle liberally with cornmeal. Cover loosely with lightly floured plastic wrap. Let stand in warm draft-free place 1 hour or until dough is slightly puffed and no longer chilled.
  3. Thirty minutes before baking, place baking stone on center oven rack; place empty broiler pan on bottom oven rack. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  4. Dust loaf with flour. With serrated knife, make 2 or 3 (1/4 inch deep) slashes in top of loaf. Slide loaf (with parchment paper) onto hot baking stone. Immediately pour 1 cup hot water into broiler pan; quickly close oven door to trap steam. 
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Cool completely on wire rack. 


Jessie said...

I made this the other night. When the dough spread out nearly across the cookie sheet, I thought I would have a bread fail. However, it managed to rise a little and baked up nicely. The bread was tasty. I think I will add a bit more flour next time.

Delaps said...

So this took me 2 attempts to mix up, but it was great the second time around! I am so glad to have more dough in the fridge.

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