Friday, February 3, 2012

Easy Peasy Artisan Bread

I wish I could take credit for this recipe, I really do.  But, I can't.  This is the easiest bread recipe ever!  Four ingredients, no kneading and the dough can last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator once it's made.  My sister told me about this recipe originally, her friend had found it on The Italian Dish (they have lots of other great recipes there too!).  The directions make it seem complicated, but believe me.  It's SO EASY!!!  I also have a whole wheat garlic version here.
*Please excuse the shape of the bread, I'm still learning how to perfect making a bread loaf :)*

Easy Peasy Artisan Bread
Makes approx 4 1lb loaves

3 cups warm water
2 packets instant yeast
1 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1.  In a large glass or plastic container or bowl, dissolve the yeast and salt in the warm water(I used a 6.5qt plastic container).  Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon.  Mix until the dough is thoroughly wet and loose, there should be no dry spots in the dough.  Cover with a lid (not on tight) or plastic wrap (with holes poked in it) and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.  Once it has finished rising it is ready to be used, but will be very sticky.  For best results refrigerate dough at least 3 hours before shaping a loaf.

2.  Heat the oven to 450°.  Place pizza stone (for best results) or a unrimmed baking sheet on the top rack of the oven.  Put a metal pan on the bottom rack - when the bread is placed in the oven you will pour water into this pan and create steam which will aide in making a crispy crust on the bread.  Place a cup of water close to the oven to use later.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimless cookie sheet or the counter.

3.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle the top of the dough and your hands with flour.  Take about a 1/4 of the dough out of the container (it's easiest to cut it with a pair of kitchen shears) and begin to shape it.  You want to work fast, and basically you want a smooth top to the bread.  Do this by smoothing the top and tucking the bread under itself.  For a visual, check out this video. Once the loaf has been shaped, place on the parchment paper and allow to rest and rise for 30-40 minutes.  If your bread doesn't rise during this time, no big deal, it will in the oven.  Once the dough has rest and risen, sprinkle the loaf with a small amount of flour and, using a very sharp knife or razor blade, 'slash' the dough a few times - this allows gases to escape.

4.  Slide the bread (parchment included) onto the heated pizza stone.  Pour the cup of water into the heated metal pan and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf.  *I like to remove the parchment paper after the bread has been baking for 15-20 minutes to ensure I have a nice crispy crust.*  Remove the bread from the oven, and for best results, allow the bread to cool for 10-20 minutes before slicing it.  Which, as we all know is much easier said than done!

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