Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Make Unbelievably Easy Artisan Bread

Our family has been going nuts over this easy Artisan bread.  We make up batches regularly so that we can have quick bread for dinner.  Sometimes we'll bake a couple loaves for lunch and make Artisan Grilled Cheese sandwiches.  I'm telling you...DA BOMB!

We also made a boat load of these loaves when we were raising money for my daughter's missions trip to Africa.  We even made specialty loaves; Rosemary, Asiago, and Chocolate Coconut.  YUM!! Simply knead in whatever you'd like.  Easy and delicious!

Basic Artisan Bread Recipe

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt (or kosher)
3 cups warm water
7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, or one of these handy dandy food storage buckets*, combine yeast, salt, and water.  Add in all the flour and mix just until dough comes together.  Loosely cover bowl with plastic, or place lid* on bucket, and set out on counter for two hours.  Then place in fridge for up to two weeks.  Easy, right?  Takes all of 5 minutes to mix up the dough.

To Bake

Turn a baking sheet upside down and place a piece of parchment paper over the top.  If you don't have parchment, you can use foil, but spray a light layer of non-stick spay over it so your bread won't stick.  (The original directions say to preheat a stone and use cornmeal, and some other steps that were just too high maintenance for me.  So I pressed the easy button on this one, and got the same results.  Or at least close, anyway. ; )

Grab about a third of the dough gently out of the bowl/bucket.  You may need to dust a bit of flour over the portion you're grabbing.  Once you have a nice blob, gently shape it into a round or an oval shape.  I like an oval loaf.  Cut two or three slits on top, and let rise for 40 minutes.

After about 20 minutes, preheat your oven to 450*.  Place a pan of water on the bottom rack (it helps to keep the loaf moist).  After the 40 minutes of rising*, place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Allow loaf to cool about 10 minutes and slice up!  We slather ours with melted butter.  Enjoy your easy homemade artisan bread!

Makes 3 loaves.

*I purchased my buckets from Sams Club in the restaurant section.  But you can also find these at a restaurant supply store, or order them online from the link above.

*If you use the bucket and lid, you'll need to drill a few small holes through the lid so the dough can breathe.  I had my 11 yr old son drill two of my lids.  But honestly, with my first lid, I just stabbed through it with a phillips screwdriver.  It was a great tension reliever. ; )

*Don't worry if your bread didn't rise all that much.  It doesn't.

*If you're kneading in a flavor, you'll want to do that as soon as you take your blob out of the bowl, and then shape loaf, and rise as normal.  If you want your whole batch to be herbed, you can mix that in when you first make your dough.

*If you make bread on a regular basis, especially Artisan bread, I would recommend investing in one of these super awesome Danish Dough Whisks. They are perfect for mixing in flour. And it's long enough to mix right in the bucket when mixing up Artisan dough.

*If you find that you have a doughy center, add about five minutes to the cooking time.  Remember, ovens vary.  It's also important to allow cold dough to rest the full 40 minutes.  That helps with the baking process.  I've also found that the oval shape seems more foolproof.  Sometimes the round loaf needs that extra baking time.

*This post contains affiliate links


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