Wednesday, February 4, 2009

5-minute artisan bread

I know that making homemade bread intimidates a lot of people: all of the kneading, various rising times, etc... It all gets a little overwhelming. The looming fear is that after investing all that time, the loaf just might not turn out.

This bread recipe is for you.

I found this recipe in a recent issue of Mother Earth News, which they reprinted from a book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking (Thomas Dunn Books, 2007).

The whole concept is to produce an artisan-style loaf of bread with a minimal amount of effort - only 5 minutes of hands-on time.

There is no kneading required. It only needs to rise 40 minutes before baking, and the recipe makes enough for 4 loaves, and the dough keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge!

It seems like a miracle.

So, here is what you need:

A large glass container to keep the dough in
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cups flour
(the recipe calls for all-purpose, but I succesfully use whole wheat instead, or you could use a combo of the two...whatever your preference)

That's it!
Here's what to do with it:
1. Combine all ingredients in the container, just until combined. I use a rubber spatula. The dough is really thick, but it only needs to be stirred until combined - around 30 seconds.

2. Cover loosely (I use a plastic tupperware lid), and allow it to sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours, or until the dough rises and then sags at the top.

3. Put it in the refrigerator, still loosely covered. Technically, you could bake a loaf now, but it is a lot better if you wait until the next day.
4. Scoop out a 1 pound size portion (1/4 of the dough). Shape it into a round ball and place it on a piece of parchment paper (or a baking sheet). Allow it to rise at room temperature for 40 minutes (no need to cover the loaf).
While it is rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the middle rack (if you don't have a baking stone, it is okay to cook the bread without one.) Place a cast iron pan on the floor of the oven (or a metal baking sheet/pan).
5. Cut 3 slash marks in the top of the dough, about 1/2 inch deep. Dust the surface with flour.

6. Transfer the loaf (still on the parchment paper) to the hot baking stone. Put a 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the cast iron pan (to create steam, which helps keep the crust soft while the loaf expands). Bake for 30 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Resist the urge to cut into the hot bread if you can. It continues to bake as it cools.
8. Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
And that's all there is to it!
Of course, it still can't compare with the bread that does require more time and effort, but it is still better than anything you could get at the grocery store.
I always have a container of it in my fridge for those lazy days when we're needing more bread, and because it makes the BEST pizza dough ever.
Check back tomorrow for that recipe...

1 comment:

  1. i'll have to try this. our bread machine is out of commission, and i've been wanting to try something more advanced than flat bread or biscuits in the oven. thanks for this.