Monday, March 2, 2009

Artisan Bread

We love nice crusty breads in this household. When I saw King Arthur's baguette, I knew I had to try it. I fell so in love with the bread that I've made it numerous times since and frequently make the stuffed versions too. But honestly, those things were a lot of freaking work! Start the sponge the day before, make the dough, knead the dough, go through 3 sessions of 1-hour rises, shape the dough, let it rise one more hour, spray, slash, bake, cool. Seriously, it was a huge commitment.

When I heard about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I was VERY intrigued and decided to check it out. And boy am I glad I did! This stuff is great! I can have fresh baked bread ready to eat in 2 hours whenever I feel like it with minimal fuss and minimal mess. I just have to keep the dough in the fridge at all times, which I don't mind at all.

I even taught the hubz how to make it too so he doesn't have to wait for me when he's got a craving. Needless to say, we'll be eating a lot more bread in this house from now on!

And even when I screw up and they aren't so pretty, they still taste fantastic!

Look at all those humungous, gorgeous air bubbles. Aaah, I'm in heaven.

A few tips and tricks that I've learned from my limited experience is to definitely wait at least a week before using the dough. The difference in taste between the bread I made the day after I mixed the dough and a week later was humungous! It's definitely worth the wait.

Another lesson learned is to let it rest for about an hour and a half instead of the 40 in the book (they mention this correction on their website too).

And lastly, use parchment paper. Seriously, it'll save you so much headache in transferring the dough to the oven. But remove it after about 10-15 minutes so that the bottom can crisp up more. Or use LOTS of cornmeal.

As a side note, a frequent snack in this household has become bread and cheese. I highly recommend Dubliner cheese from Costco. It's a less than $6 a pound and is really tasty with little flavor crystals and all! If this habit continues, we will be slowly making our way through all the cheeses Costco has to offer and will report back on any great finds (like the Dubliner, seriously, try it).

- 3 cups of water
- 1 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 1/2 cups of flour (bread or all-purpose)

- Mix all the ingredients together until all the flour has been incorporated in a large container with a NON airtight lid (or just crack the lid a bit when storing). There is no need for kneading or a mixer. I've found a dough whisk and my hands to be the best tools for this. Wetting your hands before digging in will help them from sticking.
- Let the mixture sit at room temperature with the NON airtight lid on for about 2 hours, or until at least doubled in size.
- Put the mixture (covered but not airtight) in the fridge.
- For the next 2 weeks, pull the dough of the fridge and while it is still cold, cut off about a pound of the dough. I found that for the best flavors, let it sit in the fridge for at least a week.
- Flour the surface of your workspace and gently shape and stretch the dough into a ball by pull the edges under the ball, rotating and repeating.
- Shape the dough into whatever shape you'd like (long baguette, round boule, etc) on a pizza peal heavily coated in cornmeal or parchment paper. Let it rest, uncovered for an hour and a half.
- Preheat your oven and a baking stone to 450 degrees. Put a roasting pan underneath to heat as well.
- Right before baking, if you want to make a baguette, spray the surface of the dough with water. If you want a boule, dust the top with flour, or coat the dough with an eggwash for something that I don't know the name of, but it definitely tasty.
- Slash the dough a few times with a very sharp knife in whatever pretty pattern you'd like.
- Slide the dough onto the pizza stone and pour a cup of hot water into the roasting pan.
- Quickly close the oven door to trap the steam and bake for about 25 minutes. If you used parchment paper, remove it about 10-15 minutes into the baking time. Do not disturb it for the first 10 minutes as that's when the majority of the rising and crispy crust develops.
- Let the bread cool on a cooling rack and then enjoy your fresh baked artisan bread!
- When you've used up all the dough, keep the old remnants in the container and add more flour, water, salt and yeast. Keeping the old remnants will help give your new batch even more depth of flavor.


Reeni said...

This looks delicious!! I love crusty bread too. Thanks for all the great tips!

Anonymous said...

I seriously need to get my hands on this book. Yum!

Anonymous said...

Bread and cheese rules! I wonder if that Dubliner cheese is the same Dubliner cheese we get here in Ireland? Tasty stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaga, I have heard and read a lot of +ve feedback about ABin5, I am fully convinced and will definitely buy the book shortly. Right now, I am making the No knead bread as a prelude. Your artisan bread is speeding me up to get the book, haha!

stephchows said...

I'm totally in love with this book! I make half a batch and then make 4 mini loafs randomly through the week. You can see mine here:


Melissa said...

Congrats, I've awarded you with the Lemonade & Fabulous awards, check out my latest post :)

Patsyk said...

We are huge fans of ABin5! I have some dough in my fridge now... and I agree, it's better to wait a week to use it as the flavor is so much better! Try the olive oil pizza dough, it's great as well!

MaryBeth said...

I love a good crispy and crunchy bread, warm with drippy butter..OMG how good.

Colleen said...

That looks so pretty! I need to try that first one!

trish said...

WOW! your breads look amazing. i love bread. what would we do without it?!?! carbs will forever be a HUGE part of my diet. and yes, i'm so glad you posted that scallion pancake recipe!! i really enjoyed it :)

Anonymous said...

This looks great. We are big fans of fresh bread in our house, but it always requires so much planning. Even our easy no knead bread requires an overnight ferment. I will have to try just keeping this around in the fridge for when the mood strikes. Thanks!

Zoe Francois said...

You are right the crumb on your bread is gorgeous!!!! I'm so pleased that you are enjoying all the bread you are baking! :)

Thanks, Zoƫ

Anonymous said...

Your bread looks lovely! I love your nice, open crumb!

Anonymous said...

wow that bread looks amazing!! and p.s. i am a total costco addict too :) (point in experiment with costco sized tuna). will def pick up the dubliner on my next trip!

Maggie said...

I love the master recipe from Artisan in Five! My husband gave up bread for Lent and so I let all my stock run out. Your tips remind me that I should make up a batch today so it'll have time to age before he starts eating bread again.

lisaiscooking said...

I've been doing the long version bread baking, but I keep hearing great things about this book. I need to check it out. Your baguette looks incredible!

Dazy said...

I'm making this today. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

gingi said...

awww....the bread really look yummy~! thanks for sharing the recipe! deifinitely will have more breads from now onwards.haha.