Is it really possible to dump ingredients into a bowl only for a magic loaf of bread to appear? Yes. Today I will guide you through the easiest bread tutorial ever. So get your hands dusted with flour, put on an apron, and let’s get started.
There are only 5 ingredients that you’ll need to make artisan bread. This particular recipe yields four 1-pound loaves, so if you’re just getting started and that seems to intimidating at first, you can always cut the recipe in half.
Now let’s gather the ingredients. You will need:
3 cups water, slightly warmer than your body temperature
1 tablespoon of granulated yeast (active dry, instant, quick rise, or bread machine is fine)
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher or coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, measured by the scoop and sweep method
Cornmeal, for dusting
1. Before you begin, make sure you have a large bowl or a 6-quart container with a lid. Mix the water, yeast, and salt together in the container. Let that stand for about 5 minutes for the yeast to activate. The water and yeast combination should begin to bubble slightly. If it doesn’t, its alright because the yeast will continue to ferment throughout the process. Next you will want to add in 6 cups of the flour into the water-yeast mixture. The extra 1/2 cup of flour should be used only if the dough seems to wet. During hot summer days, 6 cups of flour is good enough. However, during the cold and rainy days, an extra half cup should be used. Use a long wooden spoon to mix until the flour is completely incorporated into the dough. The beautiful thing about this recipe, is that you do not need to knead (see what I did there). You mix until all the flour is moist.
2. Whether you are using a bowl or a container, make sure you loosely cover the dough and allow for it to rest and rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. You will notice that dough will rise and collapse a little; this is normal. You don’t need to monitor the bread and check if it has doubled or not. As long as you let the dough rest on your kitchen counter for 2 hours, your dough is doing just fine.
3. After the 2 hours are up, you can either cover the bowl or container allowing some gas to escape and put it in the refrigerator for up to 14 days, or use the dough immediately. You don’t want to ever punch the dough, instead you want to handle the dough as less as possible so that you retain the gases.
4. When you are ready to bake your bread, line a pizza stone or a baking sheet with parchment paper and then dust with cornmeal. Cut off 1 pound from the dough with a sharp knife. Dust your hands with flour and hold the dough in your hands while stretching the surface and tucking the ends of the dough underneath forming a ball. Don’t worry that the bottom doesn’t look so pretty, it will flatten out during the baking process. Make sure the ball forming takes about 20 seconds. You want to handle the dough as little as possible so that the bread will not end up tough and dense. Place the shaped dough on the pizza peel and let it rest for 60 minutes uncovered. The reason for this is not for the dough to rise (which won’t happen at all), but for the gluten in the dough to rest.
5. During the resting period, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If using a pizza peel, make sure you preheat that as well for about 20 minutes. The baking rack should be in the middle of the oven and a metal broiler tray should be placed on the bottom of the oven.
6. When the 60 minutes has passed, dust the top of the loaf with some flour and using a serrated and sharp bread knife, slash 1/2 inch patterns on the top. Some popular patterns include tic-tac-toe and crosses. These are what give your bread the beautiful artisan look.
7. Place the bread in the oven and quickly add 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the door quickly as to not let the steam escape. The purpose of the water in the broiler tray is to create steam in the oven which gives the bread a beautiful crust and a soft middle. Bake the bread for 20-35 minutes, until the bread is brown and firm to the touch. Because the dough is so sticky and wet, a darker colored crust can still insure a soft inside. Let the loaf cool completely on a wire rack. This ensures the best flavor, texture, and slicing.
You can now show off your beautiful and yummy artisan bread with your friends and family. Remember to have some butter and jam to accompany your delicious bread. Hashtag #IAmTheSweetheart or tag our instagram so we can see how your bread turns out.