Sunday, February 24, 2008

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Once I got the butter spread taken care of, I felt the need for bread. What's the use of having a huge tub full of buttery spread, if there's nothing around that requires spreading! So I've been busy this week making bread. Baking low sodium bread can be tricky. The lack of salt can result in bland, flat tasting loaves. Breads with sweeteners, eggs, oils, & flavorings taste fine. But traditional hearth loaves consisting of just flour, yeast, salt, & water are problematic.

My first attempt this week was a recipe several Cooking Forum members have been playing with -- the famous 5 minute artisan bread. The recipe is amazingly simple and lives up to its promise of home baked bread with very little effort. I like the idea that the dough can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks. That means that the dough is available & ready whenever you feel the urge to have some freshly baked bread. Supposedly, the longer the dough is refrigerated, the better it tastes. I only use half the salt or less that bread recipes call for, and this was no exception. After two days fermentation, I found the bread still rather flat tasting. It didn't seem to improve any when I baked a second loaf four days later. I also found the texture rather dense and slightly gummy. However, my husband loved the stuff, and he's the one I'm trying to please. He really enjoyed tearing off a chunk of freshly baked bread and slathering it with my homemade lower calorie/sodium buttery spread. This is a perfect bread for those new to baking with yeast doughs.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes - Basic Recipe
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day : Cookbook  : Website

(Printable Recipe)
Time: About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours resting and rising

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (I only used 1-1/2 tsp.)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (I only used 1-1/2 tsp. salt)
3 cups lukewarm water
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches (I used a Danish dough whisk). Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Total Yield: 4 loaves

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