Tuesday, March 12, 2013

the artisan bread post

I know, I've been heavy on the food posts lately (get it?) 

I promise. . . I'll slow them down. . .

but this whole artisan bread thing is too good not to share.

It is so so easy.

I checked out the exhaustive how-to-do-it book at the library over Christmas vacation and found the instructions to be intimidating, even though I feel quite adept at kitchen-ese. It is so much easier than the book, blog, and website show.  That's the motivation for sharing this post with my usual less than stellar photography; an attempt to convince you that you really can have bread in five minutes a day.

You start with a container that is not airtight.  (Apparently this stalls the yeast action or something.)  Think ice cream bucket, jar with loose lid, bowl with large plate on top. 

Mix, in the jar,

3 cups warm water

1 tablespoon yeast

1 tablespoon salt

6  1/2 cups white flour.

Stir until moist.  It is very wet and sticky dough. Don't knead, don't worry, don't fret.

Let your jar sit on the counter for 2 hours.  Then cover it with your loose cover/lid, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  This is enough dough for 4 round loaves

That's it!

When you are ready for hot fresh bread, sprinkle a little flour on the counter, using floured hands, grab a 1/4 portion of your dough,  (should be about softball sized) and smooth it the best you can, quickly.  It will be sticky.  That's okay.  Set on your floured counter or cutting board.

If you have used your dough up, like I did when I was taking these pictures, mix up some more in your jar.  You don't have to wash it.  The leftover bits of dough add to the artisan quality.

Allow to rise for 20 minutes.  When your timer buzzes, then put a pizza stone in your oven and begin preheating the oven and stone to 450.  Set timer again for 20 minutes.

At the end of 20 minutes, slash the top of your loaf two or three times to create  stripes or  a criss cross pattern.  Using a wide knife, spatula, or just your hands, slide loaf onto pizza stone.  (You may sprinkle flour or cornmeal on stone at this point to create texture for the bottom of your loaf.) Be quick about it, you want the oven to stay hot.

Then- (this is the only complicated part.  bear with me.)  slide a shallow broiler pan under your baking bread rack, quickly pour about 2 cups of hot water into the pan.  Shut the oven as fast as you can.  This process is to create steam, which in turn will make an unbelievably crisp-yet-chewy-yet-crunchy crust. 

Bake for about 30 minutes. 

You know it's done when it looks nice and crusty brown.

That's it! 

Notice that there is not a bit of fat added to this dough. 

That justifies the olive oil dipping plate you can make to go with the steaming bread and you can pretend you're in Italy or France or some country with amazing bread.  (Really, America?  White sliced bread?  That's the best we can do?)

olive oil + italian seasoning + little garlic + little fresh ground salt & pepper  = who needs butter?

lunch yesterday; build your own sandwiches.  we had 4 grape tomatoes left at the end.  ;) 

oh I just remembered. . . I was going to post homemade tortillas. . .

okay, there might be a few more food posts. 


  1. How bout you just open a bakery and I'll keep you in business :) It sounds easier than me trying to make all the wonderful recipes you blog about.

  2. okay. . . and you can do my hair! ;)

  3. I'm wondering if you HAVE to use a pizza stone? I live up in northern Alberta, Canada, and am thinking that finding a pizza stone could be a bit of a problem. And besides that, I hate buying something that isn't absolutely necessary...that's the Mennonite in me coming out!

    By the way, I love your blog. Reading it always makes me smile (or cry, depending on the post).

    Is there any way I can subscribe to your blog, and get the posts by email?

    1. hi lois! you're so kind! I am so humbled that anyone reads what I scribble in my late night brain unwind moments ;)

      subscribe by email? I think there is a standard "subscribe by email" somewhere on here that blogger ads by default but I've never paid attention. I'll check it out.

      I don't think you need to use a stone. I know the book suggests using cast iron, but a nice airbake jelly roll pan should work. I'll try it out & let you know. :)