Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day (for real!)

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 27, 2010

The blogosphere is rife with praise for this painless method of bread making, which a monkey could master with success. I am also in the process of trying to switch my cooking practices to include more whole grains and have heard that whole wheat pastry flour is less dense and more palatable than regular whole wheat flour. So I was delighted to get on two bandwagons at once to produce a scrumptious bread made with wholewheat stone ground pastry flour mixed in with all purpose flour. The adjustments I made were all based on suggestions on Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois’ website. If this is how easy it is, I have to get their bread making books.

So here goes:

3 ½ cups all purpose flour (I used King Arther’s organic)
3 cups stone ground whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill: organic)
2 packets (1 1/2 tbs.) fast acting yeast
1 1/2 tbs. kosher salt (use less for regular salt)
3 1/4 cups water (this includes the ¼ cup I added to compensate for the high protein all purpose flour and the whole wheat flour I used; omit if simply using all purpose flour such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury).

In a 5 qt. plastic container with a lid, the yeast, salt and warm water (about 100˚F). Stir to mix. It does not have to be perfectly mixed. Then dump in all the flour. Mix so that no dry spots remain in your dough. Cover with the lid, but do not seal it (the gases have to escape). The mix should be fairly liquidy and not hold shape. Now walk away for 2 hours.

If you are going to use a pizza stone for baking, put your oven racks one in the center and the other on the lowest rung. Turn the oven to 450˚F an hour before you are ready to bake (I have an old oven, yours might do it in 20 min or so like it is supposed to). Put the stone on the center rung. The lower rung will hold a pan of water and together with the stone will yield a lovely crust.
Alternatively, if you want a less crusty bread that you will use for sandwiches etc. I would not bake this on a stone. Instead: put the dough in a buttered loaf pan for baking.

After 2 hours, the dough should have risen dramatically. Now you can either proceed to baking the bread or stick the dough in the fridge for upto 2 weeks. According the original authors, it is much easier to shape a loaf if you have refrigerated the dough, but I had no trouble at all. So try it both ways.

If you proceed to baking, sprinkle some dry flour on the flour surface, break off a hunk of the dough (about a fourth of the total amount) and using a floured surface, stretch and shape the dough into a smooth ball. This takes about a minute. Then let the bread rise for 40 min. You might consider putting your boule on a pizza peel with some sprinkled cornmeal on it to ease the loaf onto the stone. You can also use parchment to handle the loaf. I did neither and had no trouble.

If shaping into a loaf, butter a pan and shape a hunk of dough so that it touches all sides of the pan. Let it rise for 40 min.

Sprinkle the top of your loaf with flour. Then using a sharp serrated knife, cut slits in your bread, using a delicate sawing motion. Just before you pop the bread into the oven, place your broiling pan on the lowest shelf of the oven and add a cup of warm tap water to it. Then set your bread on the stone and bake for 20-30 min. I baked the boule for 30 min and I think that was just a touch over. Then I did the loaf for 20 min and it was much better. I think you might also have to adjust these times depending upon whether you are using a stone or not.

Note: I used the remainder of the dough this morning (a week after first making it). If you take the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest 60-90 min after shaping it into a loaf. Then bake for 30-35 min (this is longer than the time required for freshly made and used dough).

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