I think I could live on bread alone. My favorite part of most meals in fine restaurants is the wonderful bread. My favorite bread has a crunchy crust, and a hearty but soft interior. With all the artisan breads available today I am just about in bread heaven. To bad they’re so time consuming and difficult to make…NOT!
Here is an easy, no knead method for making mouth watering, delicious yeast bread. I mentioned I would be blogging about this recipe back when I delivered a meal to my neighbors who had just become new parents. So, I’m making good on that promise. The best part is that this will be one of the easiest yeast bread recipes you will ever make. And, the results are great.
Here are a few reasons why I think this is a great recipe:
You quickly mix up the dough (no kneading), put it in the fridge, and have up to seven days to bake the bread
You can adjust the size of your loaves – make one larger loaf or two smaller loaves
You can shape the dough just about any way you’d like
It’s an easy recipe to double if you want to make some for you and some to give away (like I did)
You can have fresh, homemade bread just about any time you want
There is a Cheddar Cheese Artisan Bread variation included in the recipe
Your kitchen will smell heavenly while the bread is baking
Well, I think you get the picture. Artisan Bread is extremely versatile and adaptable.
So, let’s get started. It’s important to have a 2-quart plastic food container for storing the dough in the refrigerator. Here are a couple of examples. Keep in mind, if you double the recipe you will need a 4-quart container. I’ve even used an empty clean ice cream pail.
There are only 5 ingredients in the dough – water, active dry yeast, sugar, salt and flour. When it comes time to bake the bread you will need parchment paper and cornmeal.
The first step is to combine 1 ½ cups lukewarm water (it needs to be warm to activate the yeast - 105° to 115°F), yeast, sugar and salt in the 2-quart plastic container. This is the same container you will store the dough in when it goes into the refrigerator (easy clean up too!).
Add the flour.
Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is all moistened. The dough will look wet and sticky. Remember, no kneading required.
Cover the container loosely with the lid or plastic food wrap. Do not seal tightly. Let dough sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
The dough will rise and then begin to collapse after about 2 hours. The dough may even reach the underneath side of the lid or plastic wrap and will take on a flattened appearance.
The dough will have just about doubled in size. Below is a picture of the freshly made dough and a picture of the dough after rising 2 hours so you can see how the volume doubles.
If you removed the lid to peek loosely cover the dough again and place it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or up to 7 days. How easy was that? When you are ready to have fresh baked bread, remove the dough from the fridge. You can make one 16” loaf or two 10” loaves (one now and one later, if you’d like). I shaped my dough into a 16” loaf. On a floured surface use floured hands to stretch and shape the dough into a long baguette. Feel free to sprinkle the dough with a little flour if needed to make it easier to handle. The loaf does not need to be perfect – this is artisan bread after all.
Place the loaf on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal. I had to put mine on the sheet diagonally. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. The loaf is “resting” and will not rise much during this time – it will do more rising once it is in the oven.
About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, place a 13x9-inch pan on the bottom rack of your oven. Carefully pour 2 cups of hot water into the pan. Heat the oven to 450°F.
Cut 5 to 8 (1/4–inch deep) diagonal slits across the top of the loaf with a serrated knife. If you’d like, brush the loaf with water then sprinkle the top surface of the bread with sesame seed, poppy seed or shredded Parmesan cheese.
Bake on the middle oven rack so the bread is on the rack above the pan of water. The moist environment created by the heated water is what makes the crusty, yet chewy crust.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the bread is firm to the touch. During baking the bread will rise a little more. Remove the baked bread from the oven.
Place the loaf directly on the cooling rack and cool completely. Isn’t this a beautiful sight?
I had fun playing with this recipe and thought I would share some of my other results. Here is a photo from when I doubled the recipe and made four 10-inch loaves.
This photo shows loaves that I sprinkled with sesame seed and poppy seed. Aren’t they pretty?
This is a loaf that I sprinkled with shredded Parmesan cheese.
There are so many fun ways to make Artisan Bread unique. I’ve also made round loaves and served “wedges” of bread instead of slices. Best of all, it really is easy to make. I also like that I can keep dough in the fridge so I can have fresh baked bread any time I want. I’d love to hear about your experience making Artisan Bread. Once you try this recipe, please rate and review it.
On Thursday Liz will be making a special birthday cake for Dad.
Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchen for Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.