Stumbled upon this method of creating great artisan bread at allrecipes.com. I have been wanting to try a bread that was simple to make and had as few ingredients as possible to use as a base for other grain and seed additions. To qualify, this bread must be suitable for slicing and using as toast and sandwiches AND French Toast. It also needed to be healthy, taste good and be very simple to make. No long drawn out kneading and rising for me! Been there, done that!
This bread is almost as simple to make as batter breads, although you do have to allow about 13-30 hours from start to finish. I recommend that you try out this base recipe a few times before making changes.
(Note added 6/18/15: Via a suggestion from Kathy at Pagosa Baking Company, punch down and fold the batter a few times, 2 to 4, during the first 24 hour rising. It is on your counter in the kitchen, in a bowl, should be easy. This allows the yeast to ‘loft’ the dough in a more aggressive manner. I have also reduced the base temp. to 425 from 450; maybe give the covered loaf a little longer to rise in the pan before the yeast is killed off.)
You will need:
3 cups of flours
—-(I use some Soft White Whole Wheat flour, Pastry Grind (Bob’s Red Mill)
—-and some unbleached white, trial some ratios and see what you like)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
1-2/3 cups warm water, I also use warm, flat beer for some of this, when available!
Mix the dry up well and add the wet, in a bowl. Stir up. You will have a sticky, shaggy, aromatic sort of mess in the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a tight fitting plate or lid. Leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours. (This step takes about 5 minutes.)
Take a silicone spatula and roll the dough around in the bowl, dust some flour around the edges and form into a rough ball. The dough should be like loose pudding, slightly sticky. (It is at this step that you will want to dust with cornmeal, sprinkle sesame seeds or dust with flour, top and bottom, it will stick real good as the dough does its final rise.) Place a plain cotton towel, not terry cloth, into another bowl. Place the dough onto the cloth in the bowl. Don’t worry about making a smooth ball, the creases and imperfections bake in and out and add ‘artisan’ interest! Flip the edges of the cloth over the dough and let sit at room temperature for 1-4 more hours. Photo above is after the second ‘rising,’ just before turning over into the hot casserole/loaf pan. This is the finished ‘bottom’ of the loaf. (This step takes about 8 minutes)
Preheat over to 450 f. Yes, real hot. I bake in mornings when the extra heat is needed in the house. Some times I make granola earlier at 280 f for 1 hour, then up the heat to make this bread after. Since I use an electric stove, none of the heat is wasted, it just allows the furnace to stay off for one or two cycles.
Place an ungreased, lidded, round casserole or glass loaf pan in the oven to get very hot. This depends on what you have on hand, but I like a round one with fairly straight sides that is about 3 qt. The shape of the casserole will determine the shape of your finished loaf. I also use a bread-shaped loaf pan that has it’s own glass lid.
Take the preheated casserole out of oven and turn the dough out into it, flipping it over in the process. Photo to left after this step. Having the dough in the cloth helps to do this. Give the dish a few wiggles to settle it. The dough will be like very stiff jell-o. Now the ‘top’ will be the top in the casserole. Most of the cornmeal/seeds will stay stuck on. Put preheated lid on and bake for 30 minutes, middle of the oven. Remove lid after 30 minutes to brown top to desired color, 15-20 minutes is good. I usually turn oven to 400 f for this finishing step.
Remove from oven and cool right in the casserole. It will not stick. And, this keeps it from drying out too much.
Options: at the initial mixing add one or more of: rolled oats, whole flax seeds, toasted quinoa, sesame seeds, more cornmeal, Italian seasoning, Mrs. Dash seasoning, chopped jalapenos, etc. Don’t worry about the consistency at this point, you will adjust the dough quality when you turn the dough out to shape, with more or less flour on the board/bowl.
I have frozen this bread with good luck, but usually one loaf does not last long at Highland Garden House. I offer this bread for toast or French toast at breakfast. I call this Peasant Bread because it is so simple, cheap to make and ‘artisan’ sounds just too high falutin!
(We stopped buying bread and only now offer this easy to make bread, corn tortillas or sourdough English Muffins at the B and B.)
Note, 1/11/15: Found a glass bread-shaped baking dish with tight fitting lid recently in my ‘kitchen boneyard’ pile. Used the exact same 3 cup recipe with this covered dish and the results were great!
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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