I love the smell of fresh baked bread and although I enjoy baking, my experience with baking bread was limited to bread machines or banana bread. Then I came across the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and I decided to give it a go.
I was intrigued by this approach because it's based on making a large batch of dough that you store in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. Each day you can just grab a bit of dough, prep it lightly (no kneading) to rise and bake. BAM! Fresh bread with just about 5 minutes prep time. Here's the basic recipe.
MASTER RECIPE FOR 5 MINUTE ARTISAN BREAD
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
- 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher coarse sea salt (adjust to your taste)
- 6-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- Cornmeal for the pizza peel
- Mix with a spoon in a food-safe bucket, let it rise at room temperature for 2 to 5 hours, then into the fridge for two weeks. Tear off chunks, shape, rest, and bake as needed.
- Prepare pizza peel with cornmeal or parchment paper to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven.
- Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife of kitchen shears. Hold the dough and add more flour as needed so it won't stick to hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom of all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Don't over work the dough. This should only take about 20 to 40 seconds.
- Let the dough rest and rise on pizza peel for about 40 minutes.
- Preheat a baking stone near middle of the oven to 450 degrees. This takes about 20-30 minutes so plan accordingly. Place an empty metal broiler pan on the shelf underneath the baking stone. (Never use glass as it can shatter.)
- Dust and slash your loaf. The flour will prevent the knife from sticking. Slash a 1/2 inch deep cross, scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using serrated bread knife.
- Place the tip of the peel a few inches beyond were you want the bread to land onto the stone. Give the peel a few quick forward/backward sharp jiggles to quickly place it on the stone.
- Quickly and carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the over door to trap the steam. (Don't spill it on your glass oven door as I've heard that could break too.)
- If you used parchment paper instead of cornmeal, pull it from under the loaf after about 20 minutes for crisper bottom.
- Bake for a total of 30 to 35 minutes, or until crust is richly browned and firm to touch.
- Allow to cool completely (up to 2 hours) for best flavor, texture and slicing.
- Store remaining dough in the refrigerator and use as needed.
There's a lot more tips and techniques for baking bread and a lot of a variations. For more information, check out the following links or purchase the book.
Here are a few tools I used that I bought on Amazon: