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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day? -- Oh, Yummy, Yummy Yes!

We've already discussed my fear and trepidation in making yeast bread.  It has hung over me like a dark, damp cloud forEVER.  I was so excited to be successful in making the cinnamon swirl bread, and then last week, I made homemade soft pretzels!  Woo hoo!  Both turned out really well.  It was all well and good, but the time and stress involved was a bit much.  I really wanted to find something that I could be successful baking without spending all the time that traditional bread requires.  I've found it!!!

If you recall, on Menu Monday this week I mentioned trying to find the Artisan Bread recipe from Backwoods Home.  Couldn't find it.  So, Google was my friend.  :-)  I came across a website -- http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/.  At first, I couldn't find any recipes on the site and figured it was just for selling their books -- Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day -- as well as a forum for questions for people who bought their books.  Not so.  Nope.  The Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day can be found here (you will have to scroll down the page to find it).  Of course, I didn't do it quite like they said.  Of course not.  I couldn't leave well enough alone.  So, here's what I did, and I'll apologize now that the only photo (YES, there's a photo!) that I have to share is of the finished product.  My husband laughed that I was taking pictures of my loaves, but they were so beautiful, if I do say so myself!

One of my lovely loaves!

Back to the point -- how did I do it?  You have to start with a 5 quart bowl/container or larger.  I used a flour storage bin that I think was considerably larger than 5 quarts, but it's what I have.  It dwarfed the gallon pitcher that I measured my flour into.
  • 5+ quart container
  •  3.5 c of lukewarm water (Mine was about 105 F -- gotta love instant read thermometers.  Make sure it's not over 110 F so you don't kill your yeast.  Apparently, it will even work with cool water, it just increases the rising time.)
  • 1.5 T of yeast
  • 1.5 T of salt
  • 5 c UNBLEACHED All-purpose flour (It will not work with bleached all-purpose flour because of the different protein content.)
  • 1.5 c Whole Wheat flour
Put your water, salt & yeast in your container, then dump in all your flour.  Stir it all together using a wooden spoon.  Put a lid (not air tight, don't want your container to explode!) or saran wrap on your container.  Let it sit out for 2-ish hours (mine actually sat out for about 4), then put it, as-is, in the refrigerator overnight.  Your dough is good for about 2 weeks.  Granted, the longer you wait the more yeasty/sour it's going to get. 

Tuesday, I did all of the combining...the dough is supposed to rise on the counter and the fridge. Mine didn't.  It was about the same size when I pulled it out of the refrigerator yesterday.  I was afraid that was going to be the case -- I had pushed the envelope with my yeast.  The package said, "For faster rising, use by..."  It was out of date, and I knew it.  I was ok with a slower rise, but there was no rise.  *sigh*  I was just too impatient.  I wanted to make the dough Tuesday so that I could make bread bowls for leftover potato soup Wednesday, and I couldn't go to the store to get fresh yeast because Andrew had the car. 
Silly, impatient me.

I was determined, though, to soldier ahead.  So what if my bread turned out ridiculously dense?  I tend to like dense bread, especially for bread bowls.  Mid-afternoon yesterday, I pulled my dough out of the fridge.  The top was dry.  I probably should have added some water to the top and let it soak in, but I didn't.  Here are the next steps to finishing out your Artisan bread...at least the way I did it.  :-)
  • Throw some flour on top of your dough -- enough so that it's not going to stick to your hands.
  • Grab a glob and pull out about a pounds worth and cut it off with a knife or kitchen shears.  (I used a knife, 'cause my hubby moved my shears.  He'd better not touch my cheese!  hee hee)
  • In 40 seconds or less, flatten it a bit, fold it over on itself and then form it into a boule ("ball" for the who's who at home).
  • Set your dough on parchment paper, flour your hands and make sure the dough is lightly floured all around.
  • I made four loaves.  The dough is supposed to make four one pound loaves.  My loaves were much smaller than the ones they show on their website, but they had some serious heft going on!  That's what happens when the silly stuff doesn't rise!
  • Now the dough needs to rest, uncovered, on the parchment paper.  At 30 minutes of resting, I turned on my oven to preheat to 450 with my empty broiler pan on the bottom rack (set on the bottom rung) and an upside down cookie sheet on a rack set 4-5 inches above the broiler pan.
  • At about 1 hour of resting...or when my oven told me it was at 450, but not before my oven was preheated to 450 (Sorry!) I put all four loves on their individual pieces of parchment on the cookie sheet and carefully poured 1 cup of water into the broiler pan.  (Yes, you must do the water, it provides a time of flash steaming which makes the crust the way it should be.)  I did cover the glass on my oven door with a towel just in case any water splashed -- I didn't want an accident that would cause the glass to crack/break/shatter!
  • *NOTE*  Do this step before putting your bread into the oven -- I remembered just after I put them in and had to hastily do this!  Using a sharp bread knife, make several long(4-6 inches), quarter inch deep cuts in the top of the bread.  (I only did two because my loaves were small.)
  • Let the bread bake for 20 minutes.  At 20 minutes, slide the parchment paper out from under the loaves and then let them bake for 10 more minutes.  Mine probably could have used another 5 minutes or so, but I thought they were lovely, so I took them out.
  • The hard part -- leave them alone for 1 hour!
Once the hour had elapsed, I cut off the tops and dug out the insides so that we could use the base for bowls.  The guts were DENSE.  Oh my.  I jokingly refer to it as Black Hole Bread, it was so very, very dense...but it tasted super yummy!  The kids ate it with jam for a good portion of their dinner.  My favorite part was the crust.  Step aside, Panera, I now have the power!  :-)

I know I must have looked beyond crazy, as I was whooping and hollering and dancing around my kitchen in celebration at my dense success!  :-)  I did it, and it was easy to do, and it even worked when my yeast didn't!!!  I am super duper excited, and, from perusing the website, I know that the Artisan Bread in 5 authors have so many different kinds of recipes in their book -- soft wheat sandwich bread, for starters!  Lord willing, I will be purchasing this book with some birthday money.  Can't wait to try it all out!!!

If you try this out, I want to know!  Tell me all about it.  If you have any questions, the website, http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/, is a great resource and the book authors answer all the questions that are posted on it.

Now I must get back into the habit of Jazzercise so that this new found fun does not add any more to my ample hips & booty!  :-)

1 comment:

  1. Carrie
    I know it's been a long time since you posted this, but I just read it...great subscriber eh? Well, I too have learned to bake artisan bread through the book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I've never been able to make good French Bread with GREAT crust until I used the recipes. Last summer I even sold Baguettes at the store and farmer's markets.

    With your recommendation I'm going to visit the website. My round loaves go "out" instead of "up" and I'd like to conquer that.

    Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed your post!