I love homemade bread … the fact I can control the ingredients, the fact it is waaaaay cheaper to make than to buy, the smell of it in the oven, the feel of the dough in my hands as I work with it, and especially the taste of it right out of the oven with a little butter spread over the top of a slice. You see, I LOVE HOMEMADE BREAD!!!
This wonderful product used to be something that was a treat or made on occasion at our house. Well, not anymore. I stumbled upon a book that has revolutionized bread baking in our home. I couldn’t wait to try it out and make sure it was true. Over the past 2 weeks I have made 15 loaves of bread – and yes, I am proud to say we have eaten them all!!!!!
The book is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. It was published in 2006, which brings up the point – where has it been the last 5 years ??!!?? This concerns me – where are all my friends who bake and why didn’t they tell me about this?
Well, you have been told, so rush down to your local book store, get on line, or go to your local library to see if they have it. I have only made one recipe so far, but it is wonderful so I am branching out this week and doing a second recipe (I’m risky that way).
The ingredient list is not long at all — water, yeast, salt and flour — but the technique for making it is very different and interesting. The recipe looks long and complicated, but it really isn’t once you do it. The book goes into great detail (which I find very interesting), but hopefully my instructions will do the job. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the steps. I tried to simplify and make each thing you do a different step … that is why it is so long.
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
- 1½ tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
- 6½ cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop and sweep method
- Cornmeal for pizza peel
- container to stir and raise dough in – approximately at least 12” in diameter and 12 – 14” tall with a loose fitting lid
- Pizza Stone
- Pan or Pie Plate for holding water in 450 degree oven
- In large container mix the water, salt and yeast. Stir.
- Add the flour and stir with wooden spoon until all flour is
- incorporated into the wet mixture.
- Cover lightly.
- Let rise on counter for 2 hours. Do nothing with it – just let it sit.
- After 2 hours on the counter, punch down the dough 2 or 3 times and then place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
- The dough is very moist, so wet your hands under water before working with the dough.
- Place a decent amount of cornmeal on a cookie sheet or pizza peel.
- Take the dough from the refrigerator and pinch off ⅓ of the dough (about the size of a very large grapefruit).
- Work this in your hands to form a nice domed ball.
- Place the dough on the cookie sheet.
- Let rise for 40 minutes.
- During the last 20 minutes, place the pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450. Position the shelves in the oven so the bottom one is on the lowest position and the top shelf is one down from the top. Place the stone on the top shelf.
- After the 40 minute rise, take a knife and make 2 or 3 slits in the top of the dough (1/4 inch deep). These help the steam escape from the loaf of bread.
- Place some cornmeal on the stone and then place the bread on the cornmeal.
- Pour 1 – 2 cups water in pie plate and place it on the lower shelf.
- Bake the bread for 30 minutes.
- Take the bread off the pizza stone and let cool on a wire rack.
There you have it! What appears to be a whole bunch of steps really isn’t. I just wanted to try and simplify the 4 pages of instructions given in the book.
The good news is that you still have dough for 2 more loaves that will hold in the refrigerator for up to 14 days, so you can have fresh bread 2 more times before you have to do the first set of instructions.
Isn’t this great!?! I know it seems a little overwhelming, but give it a try – it really is easy.
I would still recommend the book – there are lots more recipes and they explain why this works. I’m just fascinated!!! Guess it says something for the state of the rest of my life!
Happy Bread Baking!
P.S. The book costs about 16.00 from Amazon. You can find it here or click on the picture of the book to the right.
P.S.S. Kim and I get no compensation for suggesting this book. It is just really, really good!!