Freshly Baked Bread

by Patricia Eddy on July 25, 2008

Have you ever walked by a bakery right when the bread comes out of the oven? I’m getting hungry just thinking about it right now. A slice of hot, fresh bread, slathered in butter, is one of my great pleasures in life. I don’t have it very often, though, for several reasons.

  1. Hot, buttered bread isn’t all that healthy.
  2. Baking my own bread takes at least 3 hours from mix, to rise, to bake.
  3. Home baked bread is rarely as tasty the second or third day as it is the first.

Given how much I love fresh bread, I was thrilled when read about a new book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Really? 5 minutes a day? Could it really be true? Could I have fresh bread every day? Or even a couple of times a week?

Well, the reality wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, but it wasn’t bad either.

I’ll talk more about this cookbook over the next few weeks, both here and on the Cook Local Examiner site.

Today, I’ll show you my first loaf of bread and tell you how I made it.

CIMG2194

Isn’t that pretty? It was probably about 8 inches across with a nice crusty exterior.

So, how did I do it? I used Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day’s Master Recipe.

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • Cornmeal

The directions are exceedingly simple. Use water that’s around 100 degrees. Put the warm water in a large bowl and add the yeast and salt. Give it a stir (but don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve).

Mix in the flour with a spoon. You don’t need to mix it too well, just until the mixture looks pretty moist and there aren’t any large clumps of dry flour remaining.

Cover the bowl with a lid and let it sit on the counter for 2-5 hours. Then put the dough into the fridge and you’re done for the day.

The next day (or any day over the next two weeks), take a pizza peel and cover it with cornmeal. Coat your hands with flour. Grab a decent lump of dough and "cloak" it. This was a new term to me, but it basically means that you take the dough lump and stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, forming a ball. Put the rest of the dough back in the fridge.

Let it rise for 40 minutes. About 20 minutes into the rising time, preheat the oven to 450 and put your pizza stone in there to preheat as well. On the bottom shelf of the oven, place your broiler pan (without the top).

Dust the top of the loaf with flour and make several cuts in the top of the loaf.

Slide the risen dough onto the pizza stone.

Take 1 cup of hot water and fill the broiler pan. CAREFUL! This will steam pretty heavily. Don’t get too close.

Bake for 30 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack, and eat when the outer surface is (mostly) cool. 

The principle of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day is that you only have 5 minutes of ACTIVE work each day. This, however, doesn’t count the time you must wait for things to happen. While I was hoping to be able to come home, throw bread in the oven, and eat it as soon as it baked, the reality was that you still need to let the dough rise. You just don’t have to let it rise, punch it down, and let it rise again. You can have fresh bread within about an hour and ten minutes of coming home. Not bad for fresh bread.

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