Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No Knead Artisan Bread

one pound loaves
Hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Sorry for the delayed absence, we've been spending some time with my family (who unfortunately have had extremely spotty internet access) in Minnesota.
I think I have a problem. I have developed a compulsive baking addiction. I managed to bake my way through a 25 pound Costco bag of flour in a month. That's a whole lotta carbs. 

Fortunately, I am not stingy and am an excellent pusher of my habit. Case in point, this bread recipe. It has been my go to recipe the last couple of weeks for gatherings. "I'll bring the bread!" I kindly volunteer. Homemade bread is such a treat but has the reputation of being such a chore. This recipe however, is as simple as it gets. It has made it virtually impossible for me to buy bread from the store when I know how cheap the raw ingredients actually are.

Since this is the perfect time of year to be making soup and other comfort foods, here is the perfect recipe for an accompaniment!  It also feels especially appropriate to mention while I am in Minnesota that this recipe comes from an awesome book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by authors with Minnesota ties, Jeff Hertzberg MD and Zoe Francois.  I highly recommend you check it out--this recipe is only the starting point of some really amazing recipes!
5 Minute No Knead Artisan Bread
Makes 4 one pound loaves (I usually make 2 two pound loaves) but can easily be halved
1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups warm water
6 1/2 cups all- purpose flour (can substitute up to half whole wheat flour)

In a large container with a fitted lid (I like to use a 1 gallon size plastic ice cream bucket--just make sure not to use a glass container for risk of it bursting), stir together yeast, salt and sugar. Stir in water and mix until well combined. Dump flour in all in one batch and stir with a wooded spoon just until there is no longer dry flour and the dough is together in one big sticky mess. Cover container loosely with lid and allow dough to rise on the counter until doubled in size (2-3 hours). At this point, you can attach lid firmly and refrigerate dough until ready to use.

To bake: sprinkle flour over top of dough. Use a serrated knife to cut off desired amount of dough. Use hands to stretch top of dough over and around sides to form a smooth ball, using a small amount of flour if needed. Don't worry if the bottom is rough, it will smooth out. Sprinkle corn meal or oat bran onto a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet. Place dough ball on prepared sheet and allow to rise for 40 minutes. 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. When you turn on the oven, place a pizza stone on the middle rack and a broiler pan on the bottom rack.

After dough has risen for 40 minutes, sprinkle additional flour over top of dough and use serrated knife to make a couple slashes in the top of the dough (I like to make an "x" or cross shape in top). Slide dough onto pizza stone and as quickly as possible, pour 1 cup of water into broiler pan. Shut oven door and bake at 450 for 25-35 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped. Remove from oven and allow to cool complete,y before cutting into it (to avoid having a squished loaf of bread--but I dare you to try and sit that long!).

Recipe slightly adapted from: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg MD and Zoe Francois

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