Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 2008 ROM - Artisan Bread

Artisan Bread

Over the past few months I’ve been looking for a way to make rustic, european-style bread. I tried a couple different recipes, but the bread was not quite as good as I what I was after. Then I came across this “Master Recipe” from a couple of people that had supposedly perfected making artisan bread at home. They have a book called “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” which contains the Master Recipe and then hundreds of other variations of breads, rolls, etc.

I had to make the recipe a couple of times to get it just right, but now it is really almost a no-brainer and comes out great every time. One key that I found was to scoop a one-cup measuring cup into the flour and then use a knife to level it off. By scooping the flour into the measuring cup you pack more flour into each cup than when you spoon flour into the measuring cup. More flour results in a more stable dough that will hold its shape a little better than dough that has too little flour.

Once you have the Master Recipe down, it is easy to change things up a little and add some dried fruits, roasted garlic and herbs, or whatever you think would make a great loaf of bread. The recipe should easily make 3 or 4 one-pound loaves and can be kept stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks so you can just take out a little dough at a time to make a fresh loaf each day. The only change I made was to add 2 tablespoons of honey to the recipe because it probably adds a little flavor and gives the yeast something eat so that the dough rises a little more quickly.

For more information, go to the authors’ blog at: and watch their demonstration video at: The video is really helpful and shows just how simple this recipe is.

There are a few things that you should consider getting to make this recipe work really well, a pizza peel and a baking stone (or at least an unglazed ceramic tile from a home-improvement store). I bought a pizza peel a few years ago for under $10 and I was able to recently find a 13”x15” baking stone at a local baking store (Kitchen Kneads on Redwood around 75th South) for $20, and it’s been awesome for making bread and pizza.

3 cups warm water
1 ½ Tbsp. coarse Kosher salt
1 ½ Tbsp. active yeast
2 Tbsp. honey
6 ½ - 7 cups white, unbleached flour, additional for dusting
Cornmeal for dusting
1 cup water

Step 1: Mix warm water, salt, yeast and honey in a large bowl. Let stand for a few minutes.

Step 2: Add flour and mix with wooden spoon or spatula just until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover bowl loosely with lid or plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2-5 hours. The dough can be used right away or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Step 3: Dust pizza peel with a thin layer of cornmeal. Take a grapefruit-sized amount of dough out of the bowl and shape into ball. NOTE: At this point you incorporate some dried fruit, herbs or other ingredients as you gently shape the dough into a ball. I’ve found the easiest way is to flatten the dough, sprinkle my ingredients over the top and then fold the dough in half a couple of times as I work the ingredients in.

Step 4: Place dough onto pizza peel, dust top with flour and let rise for 40 minutes (or 90 minutes if refrigerated). You may want to loosely cover dough with a kitchen towel or place a large bowl over the top so the dough doesn’t dry out.

Step 5: Twenty minutes before dough is finished rising, place baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and a metal broiler pan (or something similar) on the bottom rack. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Step 6: Make a few cuts in the top of the dough with a serrated knife (for decoration and to control where the crust will crack as the bread is baking) and gently slide the dough onto the baking stone in the oven.

Step 7: Quickly pour a cup of water into the pan on the bottom rack and close the oven to capture as much steam as possible inside the oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Let bread cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting.

1 comment:

jhertz10 said...

Hi TK!

I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of the book--- so glad you're enjoying it and starting to vary the recipes on your own. Come visit us on our website/blog at you can post questions into any "Comments" field, or into the "Bread Questions" field on the left side of the homepage.