One of the best books I have purchased in a long time is "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes" by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg you can find a lot of helpful information as well as how to video's at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/. Jeff and Zoe have brought bread back to the masses. With a simple fool proof recipe. Since this was my first attempt at making bread, I have absolutely no experience with dough and this recipe couldn’t have been easier. You do need a few items to make this happen, first you need to make sure your oven temperature is correct, it needs to be at 450 degrees, so borrow or buy an oven thermometer to check its temp. Ovens can be off by as much as 75 degrees. Next you need to get a bread stone. You can invest in a really good heavy stone, most kitchen stores will have one, or I have even heard of people using unglazed tiles from Home Depot, they are an inexpensive alternative and when they crack you just throw them out...I figure for all I am saving on bread and pizza I can go for the stone.
Next you need a pizza peel, to slide the dough off onto the stone, my choice is wood , but aluminum peels are available. If you want to try your hand at they can slice off a flat cookie sheet as well. (Although with a pizza this will be very difficult)
So now that you have checked your oven temp and have your stone in your oven and peel ready to go, let’s make bread!!
We only need four ingredients for bread, water, coarse salt, yeast and flour. Let’s talk about the flour first. According to the authors all of their recipes were made with all purpose flour, not bread flour. That being said, the next thing you need to know is all flours are not made equal. I use King Arthur’s flour at home for everything else, but it has a very high protein count (11.7), similar to bread flour (12.0). Now I can use it, but I will have to experiment to get the ratio's correct. So why bother and buy gold medal or Pillsbury flour which is closer to the 9.0 range. As for yeast just buy the packets of regular yeast or if you are going to make bread on a regular basis buy the jar, it will be cheaper. Salt needs to be kosher, or Sea Salt, the flavor of the salt really isn't going to come thru so any coarse salt will do. (If you use table salt, use will have to use less because it is more compact). Then we have water, and even if we all dream of using the legendary water of France or Italy, it really doesn't matter; in this case water is water.
You will need a container to store your dough in to let it rise and to refrigerate it in. This dough can be made in either a Mixer with a dough attachment, or a food processor. Or you can mix it by hand the old fashioned way. I use a mixer with a dough attachment.
- Artisan Bread
- 3 cups of water
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Coarse Salt
- 1 /1/2 Tablespoons of Yeast (2 packets)
- 6 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- Corn meal for dusting peal
- Flour to dust dough ball
- To save your self even more time, double this recipe!!
- First get your tap water at about 100 degrees (body temperature), make sure the water is not too hot it will kill the yeast. Colder water is ok it will just take longer to rise, if your letting it sit overnight it really doesn't matter.
- Now add the yeast and salt to the water and mix it up. Don't worry if all the yeast does not dissolve, it will finish mixing in the flour.
- Now add your flour and start your mixer. If you are using a food processor, use the pulse just until the dough forms. This is wet dough.
- Now place your dough into your container, and cover but not tightly and place on the counter for about 2 hours to rise. If you don't have time to wait let it sit out for about a half an hour or so, and put it in the refrigerator overnight, it will rise just more slowly. The dough does need to sit in the refrigerator after the initial rise for at least 3 hours before using. Its best to make it a day or two before you need it, remember this dough will last up to 14 days in the refrigerator, and the older it gets the better it will taste. You'll begin to get more of a sourdough taste as it ages, in fact when you make your second batch don't clean out the container and let the scraps of your original dough speed up the fermentation process..
- Now that your dough has set up we are ready to form a dough ball. Pull off about a one pound piece of dough (this recipe will make about 3 loaves this size). This is the only time you really handle the dough. You need to pull it down to form a ball, tucking all the ends in at the bottom. The ball should be semi smooth.
- Now place this on the pizza peel with liberal amount of corn meal under it so it will not stick.
- Let this dough rise for 40 minutes, and while it is rising lets preheat our oven and stone to 450 degrees for at least 20 minutes.
- Before sliding the dough off the peel, dust the top with flour and make some light slices into the dough for that artisan look. (You can form the dough into a longer loaf if you like, or make a bigger loaf, a bigger loaf may require a longer cooking time though)
- Now before you slide it into the oven you need one more thing, in another baking dish, or the broiler tray add two cups of water, the steam it creates will give the crust that nice crackle.
- Now slide of the dough closer the door and give it 30 minutes to start.
- The dough should have a dark colour (probably darker than you think it should be), this is our rustic artisan bread.
- You may have to experiment a little to get it just right for your oven, but you won't be far off the mark with this as your starting point, I have a convection oven at home but I needed 40 minutes for my bread.
- As tempting as it may be to cut right into the bread, restrain yourself and let it rest for about an hour. You want the outside crust to settle and the delightful crumb inside to be perfect!! Serve it up plain, with seasoned olive oil, or your favorite butter (I love Kerry Gold's and its the only salted butter I buy)
- If you want to make pizza out of this dough, you will want to add a little more flour in as you work it into a circle on your counter just keep dusting it with flour until its shape is good.
- Dom Peppino makes a pretty good pizza sauce and any shredded mozzarella cheese will work well.
- Just remember you should be able to see the dough through the sauce, and see the sauce through the cheese.