Kitchen Renovation-Day 54 {artisan bread making}

Hello my faithful readers!  Yes, it's been a while since my last post.  Since my last update, we now have countertops and a working sink and faucet!  I am so wanting to say that those two tasks went perfectly, but they didn't.  Unfortunately, the granite backsplash that fits under the window and behind the sink was measured incorrectly.  They will come back on Wednesday March 5th to install that portion.  Thankfully not having a backsplash has not deterred me from getting back into the groove of cooking.  


In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to try my hand at freshly baked bread.  I was able to pick up the book at my local library, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day  by Hertzberg and Francois.  This is book is very user friendly: it is easy to read, has pictures to follow, and links to YouTube videos.  I had a preconceived notion that bread making was going to take a long time and would be difficult.  I was wrong.  The Boule {which means ball} loaf only contains four ingredients: water, yeast, salt, and flour.  After making this wet dough, you can leave it in the refrigerator for 14 days.  When you are ready to use the dough, pull off a piece of dough about the size of a  large grapefruit, shape and cloak the dough with flour, let it come to room temperature {about 45-60 minutes}, then bake for 30 minutes.  Super easy!  I think you'll be seeing a lot of upcoming bread recipes.

CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe

Ingredients for Artisan Boule Bread

  • 3 cups of warm (100 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
  • 6.5 cups (910 grams) of all-purpose flour

Directions for Artisan Boule Bread

  1. In a 6-quart bowl or lidded food grade bucket, add warm water.  The water should feel a little warmer than body temperature.  If in doubt, use a cooking thermometer.
  2. Add yeast to the water.  I stirred it 2 to 3 times, but the book said you don't have to worry about it all dissolving.
  3. Measure dry ingredients (flour and salt), then add all at once to the water and yeast.  Mix with a wooden spoon or a heavy-duty stand mixer with paddle attachment.  Mix until ingredients are uniformly moist, with no clumps or dry patches.  DO NOT KNEAD THE DOUGH.  It should only take a few minutes to mix the ingredients to form the dough.  The resulting dough should be moist and loose enough to conform to the shape of the bowl.
  4. Allow dough to rise.  If your dough is in a bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap.  If using a lidded container, leave lid cracked open.  Allow dough to rise about 2 hours until it begins to collapse or flattens on the top.  After this step, you can refrigerate it up to 14 days.  Leave your lidded container cracked open the first two days in the fridge to allow gases to escape.  
  5. Get ready to bake:  a)Prepare pizza peel (or invert a cookie sheet) with cornmeal or parchment paper to prevent sticking when sliding the bread dough onto a baking stone or pan. b) dust the surface of the dough, then cut off a 1-pound piece (grapefruit size) of dough with a serrated knife or kitchen shears.  In a shallow bowl or pie pan that has about 1/4 cup of flour, plop the dough in.  Cover the outer surface of the dough in flour, but do not work it in to incorporate it.  Begin forming a ball shape by making quarter-turns and tucking the bottoms down and in.  The process should only take about 30 seconds, working it longer could result in dense, tough dough.  Check out the book or YouTube video for pictures which demonstrates this process.
  6. Rest the loaf on the pizza peel for 40 minutes or until close to room temperature.  I found that placing the peel on a cookie rack allow the air to circulate better and warmed the dough to room temperature faster (40 minutes vs. 60-90 minutes) than placing it on the countertop.  You may not see much rising of the dough during this time, but that's okay.
  7. Place an empty metal broiler tray in the bottom shelf of the oven; this will be used as a steaming tray.  Do not use a glass pan for the steaming tray because it may shatter.  Preheat baking stone or pizza pan on the middle rack of the oven at 450 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.  I recommend using an oven thermometer to double check your oven temperature is correct.  
  8. After the dough has rested, dust the top with flour, then slash a 1/2 inch deep cuts into the dough.  Cuts can be made in a variety of patterns i.e. tic-tac-toe, cross, parallel lines.  Leave the flour in place for baking; tap it off before eating.
  9. Slide the loaf off the peel onto the preheated stone or pan.  Quickly and carefully pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam.  Bake 30-35 minutes.  If using parchment paper, remove paper after 20 minutes for a crisper bottom.  
  10. The book notes that a perfectly baked loaf will "sing" or crackle when initially exposed to room-temperature air for cooling.  Cool completely, up to two hours.  Cut with a serrated knife and serve.