So a little while back I was going to make bagels, but my plans were thwarted when I realized I forgot to pick up bread flour. So I was already in the mood for bread-making, but needed something that I could use my all-purpose flour for- Enter: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Momma got me this much sought-after book for Christmas, but I kept forgetting about it before making anything~ WHAT A MISTAKE! This bread was so good. It had a super crispy crust, with a chewy interior. The book says that since the dough is so “wet” naturally, the likelihood of it drying out is low, so bake until it’s good and brown. So I did.
The whole premise of “Artisan Bread in 5” is to make 1 large batch of dough and then just let it hang out in the fridge until you need it- way easier than making a new batch of dough every day. The longer it sits the tangier it gets (think: sourdough). After a week, let me tell you, it was SOUR-dough alright. Super tangy. So if you’re not into sourdough, make sure to bake it sooner rather than later. First I made the baguettes, then a free-form loaf (about a week later). The free form was a little too sour-doughy for me, but that’s juts my personal opinion.
The book recommends baking on a pizza stone, but mine broke recently (RIP) so I just used a baking sheet with parchment.
Oh, and don’t worry, the bagels eventually came…
For the basic ABin5 loaf:
- 3 C lukewarm water
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 Tbs kosher salt
- 6 1/2 C AP white flour
1. Warm the water to about 100F (yeast-loving temperature), then add yeast and salt. Pour into large (5+ quart) bowl.
2. Mix in the flour all at once- kneading is not necessary, but a dough hook can be helpful if your arm gets tired easily (mine do). You’re finished once everything is uniformly moist, without any dry flour patches.
3. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, or flattens on the top. 2 – 4 hours depending on the room’s temperature.
You can use the dough at any time after this, but refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with, so it’s usually best to refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight before shaping the first loaf. (I wanted baguettes, so I dug right in) Remaining dough should last in the fridge up to 14 days.
For the free-form loaf…
4. Sprinkle surface of your dough with flour and pull off a 1-lb (grapefruit-sized) portion. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the balla s you go. Most of the flour should fall of, it’s not meant to be worked into the dough. The bottom may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it’ll flatten out when it bakes. This should take no more than 30 – 60 seconds.
5. Rest the loaf and let it rise slightly on baking sheet lined with parchment, or pizza peel dusted with cornmeal. Allow to rest for about 40 minutes (doesn’t need to be covered). Depending on the age of the dough it may rise a lot or barely at all.
6. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450F with pizza stone (if you have one) on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the baking bread.
7. Dust the top of loaf with flour, and cut a slash 1/4-inch deep accross the top with a serrated knife. (I made an “X”)
8. After 20 minutes, you’re ready to bake (even if your oven isn’t fully pre-heated). Either slide dough onto baking stone, or place parchment-lined baking sheet with dough on top into the oven. Quickly, but carefully, pour 1 C of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake about 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow to cool on wire rack.
For baguettes… (Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves – I made 2 small and served with penne alla vodka)
4. Preheat oven to 450F with stone on middle rack (if you have one) and empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the baking bread
5. Dust surface of refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-lb (grapefruit-sized) piece. Dust piece with flour and shape into a ball by slightly stretching the surface of the dough around to a spot at the bottom.
6. Once your ball is formed, begin to stretch into a “baguette” shape approximately 2 inches in diameter. Once shaped, allow to rest on parchment-lined baking sheet or cornmeal-dusted pizza peel for 20 minutes.
7. After 20 minutes, brush baguette(s) with water and cut 1/4-inch deep slashes diagonally across the loaf, then slide onto hot stone or place into oven. Pour 1 C of hot water into broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake 25 minutes or until deeply browned and firm to the touch. Cool on wire rack.
**UPDATE JULY 2012** Using THIS TRICK you can bake your bread in a crock pot! Bake on high for about an hour (based on a 4-qt crock pot)