Sunday, February 2, 2014

Artisan Bread



Guess who’s back? Yep, I have been gone a long, much too long, time. We welcomed our new little guy, Meyers, into the world in November, and my life has been a whirlwind! The 20 month old twins have been running circles around me as I cuddle and care for Meyers, so my husband has been in the kitchen A LOT. Thank heavens for him. Honestly he comes home from a long day at work and just jumps right into wrestling the boys, cooking, and rocking the little man to sleep.
I’ve slipped a few meals in here and there, and I’m excited to share a ton of new recipes with you! Starting with this artisan bread. Holy. Easy. Now that what I like to hear at this stage of my life. The instruction may LOOK difficult, but really its just some tips and tricks. This bread literally requires mixing once, and forgetting about it! It looks so very impressive on the dinner table, and tastes even better. We dipped in soup, ate it as our bread for sandwiches, and snacked until every last morsel was gone. It’s on my menu again this week-and I should give both loaves away to prevent consuming all of it on my own:)

Artisan Bread

1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting dough

In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water. Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. The dough will be kind of stickey-don’t worry! Cover lightly with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered in an airtight container, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, cut in half with serrated knife to make 2 loaves. Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper set on a pizza peel or a rimmed baking sheet turned upside down. Let the dough rest for 40 minutes for room temperature dough; if you have used the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 1 1/2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven. (BROILER pan...this is important. I learned my lesson the hard way-hot glass pan+water (that will be added in a later step) = shattered glass. Everywhere. It was not fun...but my bread still turned out great!) Place a baking stone on the middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat the stone at that temperature for 20 minutes before baking.

After the dough has rested and is ready to bake, dust the dough lightly with flour, slash the top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide the dough (with the parchment paper) onto the baking stone. Pour one cup of hot water into the broiler pan and shut the oven quickly to trap the steam. Bake the bread until well browned, about 24-28 minutes. Cool completely.

Some Notes from the original recipe: If you don't have a baking stone, try turning a rimmed baking sheet upside down and heating it in the 450 degree oven for 10 minutes prior to baking. When ready to bake, slide the parchment paper with the dough on it directly onto the overturned baking sheet and bake according to the recipe. You can also stretch the rounded dough into an oval and place in a greased loaf pan. Let it rise for 40 minutes if fresh (add an extra hour if the dough has been refrigerated). Bake in the loaf pan in the 450 degree oven, watching the time carefully - check after 20-22 minutes.

Makes 2 large loaves of bread
Recipe from Mel at melskitchencafe.com