First Bread

Fall is here and the cooler weather begs for bread baking. A few years ago my son told me about the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. Now this recipe is all over everywhere, even on King Arthur Flour, recipe. I use the recipe for The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) from the book.

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
  • cornmeal or pizza peel (or baking sheet)

I use an empty 5 quart ice cream tub. And I don’t care if it forms a seal when covered in the refrigerator. This is a super simple bread recipe. It does make an artisan bread so is not the same texture as sandwich bread or the standard bread kneaded with two risings. But it is good. If you are a novice bread baker this is a good bread to begin your bread baking.

Put your water in the tub. Sprinkle on the yeast and the salt. It may not dissolve completely. No worries. Add the flour all at once and mix with a long wooden spoon until no dry spots; all the flour is incorporated. Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature for at least two hours. I forgot about mine and it sat for 4 hours. (Binge watching television shows occupied my time!) And then put in refrigerator. The original recipe says it should be refrigerated at least 3 hours.

I baked the first loaf the next day. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Reach into the tub and pull our about 1/4 of the dough. Oh, flour your hands first and sprinkle cornmeal on your pizza peel if you have a baking stone or on your baking pan. I used a baking pan because last spring my baking stone broke in two and I have not yet replaced it.

Add a little more flour to the dough in your hand and stretch the top onto the bottom shaping into a ball, smooth on top and bunched on the bottom. Put this on your cornmeal sprinkled pan. Let rise and rest about 40 minutes. Depending on how fast your oven preheats you want it to be 450 F when you are ready to bake your bread.

To be authentic there are instructions to heat a pan of hot water at the bottom of the stove but I did not do that for this loaf, nor for the second loaf!

Just before putting it in the oven, sprinkle the top with flour and slash the top with a serrated knife. This allows for an oven rise through the surface. Bake in the 450 F oven for 30 minutes. The loaf should be firm and nicely browned.

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Truth be told this does take more than five minutes per loaf. The actual time you spend with the dough is about that though. With a batch of this dough in my fridge I can come home from work and have bread on the table in just over one hour: 5 minutes shaping, 40 minutes rising, 30 minutes baking.

 

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