Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Bread. Who doesn’t love a warm slice of homemade bread slathered in butter? I can’t think of anything I’d rather have, except maybe tacos. Warm bread just spells comfort for me. My family loves my bread and they have come to expect it when sitting down for dinner at my house.
Bread is also a wonderful gift. Many of you get bread from Spread the Bread at the church and isn’t it fun to take a loaf to a neighbor? I have found that giving bread out randomly to friends is a great blessing and is always appreciated! Do you know someone who is having a bad day? A loaf of warm bread can brighten it up for sure!
I started learning how to make bread in Minot, North Dakota where we were serving in our first church. These ladies, many who lived off the land, taught me so many things. They taught this city girl to garden, to can, to make bread and to drink coffee, but that’s for another story. While living in Minot, I would make homemade sandwich buns every week for us. I loved it. And since I was home most of the time with 3 young kids, I had the opportunity to do it.
However, as the kids got older, we were involved in music, sports, school projects, homework, serving at the church and there was simply no time to make homemade bread. Life got so busy. I wish I had found this recipe I’m going to share back then because it is incredibly simple and easy. Don’t let the length of the recipe scare you, it’s really easy.
Over the pandemic I have taught myself how to make sourdough bread. This is a process I love, but it takes several days before you get to the final loaf. Most people don’t have the time or patience to do that. But homemade artisan bread can be made in a very short time and look like you spent days making it!!!
This recipe makes 4 loaves and the dough keeps in the fridge for two weeks. So you can just slice a hunk off and bake it up! So try it out and then make one for a friend!!
This recipe comes from the book Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day. So many good recipes in it! Check it out at the library, find it on Amazon or go to their website at artisanbreadinfive.com.
3 cups (1 1/2 pounds) lukewarm water
1 tablespoon granulated active dry yeast
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups (2 pounds) all-purpose flour
Mixing the dough:
In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded dough bucket (lid that does NOT seal) dump in the water, and add the yeast and salt.
Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a long handled wooden spoon.
Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, it will be a wet rough dough.
Put the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut. You want the gases from the yeast to escape
Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise. When you first mix the dough it will not occupy much of the container.
But, after the initial 2 hour rise it will pretty much fill it. DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! Just let it settle by itself.
The dough will be flat on the top and some of the bubbles may even appear to be popping. (If you intend to refrigerate the dough after this stage it can be placed in the refrigerator even if the dough is not perfectly flat. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator.) The dough can be used right after the initial 2-hour rise, but it is much easier to handle when it is chilled. It is intended for refrigeration and use over the next two weeks, ready for you anytime. The flavor will deepen over that time, developing sourdough characteristics.
The next day when you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you will notice that it has collapsed, and this is totally normal for the dough. It will never rise up again in the container.
Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.
Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears and form it into a ball.
Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper… (or rest it on a generous layer of corn meal on top of a pizza peel.)
Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes, (although letting it go 60 or even 90 minutes will give you a more open hole structure in the interior of the loaf. This may also improve the look of your loaf and prevent it from splitting on the bottom.) You will notice that the loaf does not rise much during this rest, in fact it may just spread sideways, this is normal for the dough.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the center rack, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom (never use a glass vessel for this or it will shatter), which will be used to produce steam. (The tray needs to be at least 4 or 5 inches away from your stone to prevent it from cracking.)
Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a very sharp serrated knife. (If your slashes are too shallow you will end up with an oddly shaped loaf and also prevent it from splitting on the bottom.) If your dough is collapsing when you make the slashes, it may be that the dough has over proofed or your knife is dull and dragging the dough too much.
Slide the loaf into the oven onto the preheated stone and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color. As the bread bakes you should notice a nice oven spring in the dough. This is where the dough rises.