Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Friday, March 2, 2012

Plans for the weekend? Make some Bread.

I cut slits into the bread for steam to escape and I made an un-intentional design.  Doesn't this look like a shamrock?  I think I've found my new favorite St. Patrick's day recipe.
The weekend is a good time to catch up on chores that take a little more time.  OR...you could do something fun instead and make this quick artisan bread at the same time you are doing chores.  This is quick easy bread and won't take even a little bit of your weekend time.  Start the dough today and bake it tomorrow.
I love this recipe and make it fairly often and if you are a follower of my blog you might already know that.  If you are a newer reader or even an older one who hasn't taken the time to try this bread out,  don't delay.  It's fast, easy, cheap and tastes like you paid a small fortune for it at the bakery.  I made two large loaves this week; one to share and one for us.  It was gone in a flash so maybe I need to whip up some more loaves.  Start this sponge today and make it this evening or this weekend.  The refrigerator does almost all of the work.

Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf)

Makes four small 1-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.  For 2-pound loaves, increase the baking time.

3 cups lukewarm water
*2 tablespoons yeast (see high altitude note below)
1 rounded tablespoon kosher or other coarse salt
6-1/2 cups un-sifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
Cornmeal for pizza peel
*For high altitudes (above 3,000 ft.): Decrease the yeast to 2 ¼ teaspoons and increase the salt to 1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon.

Mixing and Storing the Dough:

1. In a stand mixer or a re-sealable lidded (not airtight) plastic food container add warm water (100 degrees), yeast, salt and flour.

2. Attach dough hook or use wooden spoon and incorporate all ingredients. Do not knead.

3. Option one: Allow dough to sit on counter 2 hours, then refrigerate for 5 additional hours and use. Or option two: refrigerate immediately and use dough the next day.

Store the dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days: You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the 14-day storage period. Refrigerate unused dough in a lidded storage container (again, not airtight). Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. The dough can also be frozen in 1 pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

On Baking Day:
1. Prepare the pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal.

2. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up the dough and cut off a 1- pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife or kitchen shears.

3. Shape the loaf, do not knead. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a 1/4–turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it’s not intended to be incorporated into the dough. This should take 30 to 60 seconds. The bottom of the loaf will not be beautiful, but the top should be smooth.

4. Rest the loaf on the pizza peel and let it rise for 40 minutes. You may not see a significant amount of change in the loaf but it will continue to raise in the oven.

5. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray below on another rack.

6. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour (this allows the knife to cut more easily through the dough), and slash a 1/4- inch deep cross, scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.

7. Fill a measuring cup with 1/2-cup of boilinb water and set it by the oven. Place the loaf in the oven by sliding it off the pizza peel onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly, but carefully, pour the hot water into the broiler tray and close the door. Set timer for 25 to 30 minutes. After 10 minutes, heat another 1/2-cup of water to boiling.  Open the door and pour it quickly into the pan.  Immediately shut the oven door.  You are cooking with steam for at least the first 10 to 15 minutes of the baking process. This will help to form the hard, crackling crust of artisan bread that we’re familiar with and mimics the steam jet commercial ovens.  After 25 minutes, check the loaf by thumping on the bottom of the loaf.  If it sounds hollow, it is done.  If not, let cook for a bit longer.  Crusty, brown color is best.

8. Remove the loaf with pizza peel or gloved hands and let cool before slicing.

To achieve a sour dough taste, hold over some of the dough from batch to batch and mix it with your new recipe of dough. Soon you will have a sour dough flavor.  The longer you let the dough develop, the more flavor the loaf will have.

After I have used all of the dough in my container, I scrape down the sticky leftover bits on the inside of the container and mix then in with the water for my new batch of dough.  You can use a hand blender to dissolve them if they are dry, but I usually just stir them back into the new batch.  These bits of dough act much like sourdough starter and instantly boost the flavor of your new dough.  The authors of this recipe suggest that you use the same container and add your new dough ingredients but I wash my container out between recipes just to be safe.

Linked to Look What I made.


  1. Your bread looks delicious and your sourdough comments remind me of the little house books where Laura talks about making sourdough. I found that fascinating xxx

  2. Cool shamrock design! I think it's time to make bread here once again.

  3. Yum, Yum -- I love homemade bread. I really should make some this weekend too -- great idea. Cookies might win out though -- maybe both LOL!

  4. Nothing better than homemade bread! That looks so yummy. I'll have to try the recipe.


  5. Yes, it does look like a shamrock! What a versatile dough recipe, Bonnie. I am certain I could eat a whole loaf myself with no problem:)

  6. Your bread looks great. My husband loves artesian bread. I have my Bosch out on the counter for some bread making today.