August 13, 2013

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

I recently came across a post by Zoe & Jeff, authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, featuring bread baked in a crock pot. "Genius," I thought. "No heating up the house to bake bread during the summer!"

Their basic white bread recipe makes four pounds of dough, enough for four loaves of bread. It's a simple technique: Simply mix the dough by hand and let it sit for 2 hours. At that time you can either bake a loaf or refrigerate the dough for a couple weeks, taking a pound out each time you want to bake some bread. It's stupid easy.

I halved their recipe, using the dough right away. I put one loaf straight into the crockpot & let the other rise for 90 minutes before going into the oven.

After the initial 2-hour rise

Sadly, the crockpot loaf was a total bust. It never baked firmly; the inside was still too dough & mushy even after an extended baking time. I tried to brown the loaf under the broiler, as suggested, but it was still not good. And, it was ugly.

The oven-baked version, however, was damn near perfect. After the initial 2 hour rise, I formed the dough into a round loaf by quickly tucking the dough under itself then let it sit on the counter for 90 minutes. 

Getting ready for a second rise

My one mistake was trying to slash the top of the risen dough; it only deflated my loaf. Still, the bread--albeit a bit thin--came out crusty & airy. Success!

Look at those holes!

Artisan Bread

makes 2 one-pound loaves

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 tablespoon granulated yeast (you can use any kind of yeast)
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
3 1/4 cups (1 pound) all-purpose flour
  • Add the water to a 3-quart bowl (I used a stockpot). Sprinkle in the yeast & salt. 
  • Add all the flour & stir with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk until all of the flour is mixed in. It will be wet, sticky, and rough. Hubba.
  • Lightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap & let rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
  • Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour & pull out half (it's best to cut it with kitchen shears). It will be really stretchy & sticky, so be sure to flour your hands as well.
  • Form each half of the dough into a ball & let it sit on parchment paper for 60 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, put a baking stone on the middle rack of your oven and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Continue to let the dough rise while the oven is heating. 
  • When the oven is hot, put a metal baking pan (I used a round cake pan) 4-5 inches below your baking stone & fill it with 1 cup hot water.
  • Slide the parchment & dough onto the baking stone and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until a deep golden brown), removing the parchment after 15 minutes. 
  • Remove the loaves from the oven & cool completely at room temperature. 

More doughs:

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