I have finally tried my hand at making Artisan Bread! I found this recipe book called 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads – No-Knead, One Bowl by Judith Fertig (Published by Robert Rose) a while back and finally, finally got a chance to try out the first basic recipe! OMG was it ever good and easy and I just have to share it.
Easy Artisan Dough
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 tbsp instant or bread machine yeast
1 1/2 tbsp fine table or kosher salt
3 cups lukewarm water (about 100F or 38C)
Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into the mixing bowl.
Add the yeast and salt to the flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk. Pour in the water and stir together until just moistened. Beat 40 strokes, scraping bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (22C) in a draft-free place for 2 hours or until the dough has risen nearly to the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance.
Use that day or place the dough, covered with the plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 9 days before baking.
The cookbook gives a lot of different ways/shapes you can bake your bread as. Here is one that I have tried and everyone has enjoyed: it’s called Batard.
Makes 1 large loaf, to serve 8 to 10.
1/2 recipe prepared Easy Dough
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 cups hot water
Place dough on a floured surface and dust very lightly with flour. Flour your hands. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, form the dough into a 14-inch (35cm) cylinder. Pinch the ends and any seams closed. Lightly flour any sticky places on the dough. The dough should feel soft and smooth all over, like a baby’s skin, but not at all sticky.
Sprinkle the cornmeal on a 3 sided cookie sheet (I used a cutting board). Using the cutting board or two metal spatulas, transfer the loaf to the prepared cookie sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.
About 30 minutes before baking, place the broiler pan on the lower shelf and the baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven. Preheat to 450F (230C).
Using a serrated knife, make five cross-hatch slashes, about 1/2″ (1cm) deep, diagonally across the top of the loaf, exposing the moist dough under the surface.
Using an oven mitt, carefully pull the middle rack of the oven out several inches. Hold the cookie sheet level with the rack so that the loaf will slide sideways onto the hot stone. With a quick forward jerk of your arms, slide the loaf from the cookie sheet to the stone. If necessary, use a metal spatula to reposition the loaf. Push the middle rack back in place. Pull the lower rack out, pour the hot water into the broiler pan and push the lower rack back in place. Close the oven door immediately so the steam will envelop the oven.
Bake for 25 to 27 minutes or until the crust is dark brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf registers at least 190F(90C). Wearing oven mitts, remove the loaf by hand to cool on a wire rack.