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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Guest Recipe from Nate: Artisan Bread

I know, you're thinking that this recipe would somehow involve meat. Surprise! It doesn't. Amazingly enough, my wonderful husband likes good bread when served alongside his favorite meat. He particularly likes the sourdough types which can be hard to find in our tiny grocery. After discussing this fact the other night, he decided to take it upon himself to learn how to bake a nice sourdough boule. I have a book on baking bread entitled, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, that has the premise of mix the dough up once for up to 4 loaves of bread in a week. Each loaf is a bit more sour than the one before. With a bit of apprehension as to how my kitchen was going to look after this experiment, I left him to it.

Artisan Bread (Master Recipe)

3 c lukewarm water
1 1/2 T granulated yeast (1.5 packets)
1 1/12 T kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 c unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measure with the scoop & sweep method
Cornmeal for pizza peel

Pour warm water into 5-qt mixing bowl (I had him use the one on the Kitchen-Aid). Add yeast and salt to water; don't worry about dissolving it. Mix in the flour, adding it all at once (this is where the apprehension of kitchen condition came in). Mix with dough-hook, but don't knead!! until mixture is uniform. This will yield a very wet dough. Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits reasonably well (he used a pot lid for a 10-in pan).

Allow mixture to rise at room temp until it begins to collapse or flatten on the top, approximately 2 hours. In our house, this took longer, as it was chilly. Refrigerate dough overnight.  Dough can stay in fridge for up to 2 weeks with no problems.

On baking day, sprinkle a pizza peel liberally with cornmeal. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with some flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-lb piece about the size of a grapefruit. Add more flour as needed so that it doesn't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of your dough around each side to the bottom so that you have a rounded loaf. Place ball of dough on pizza peel and let it rest for 40min.

20 min before baking, turn oven on to 450deg with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Put an empty broiler pan on the bottom shelf. After resting, dust loaf with flour and slash top of loaf with knife about 1/4in deep.  When oven has been heating for 20 min, with a quick jerk, slide loaf off of pizza peel onto baking stone in oven. Quickly pour about 1 cup hot tap water into the broiler tray and close oven door to trap steam. Bake for about 30min.  Cool on wire rack.

Results of this experiment were very tasty, and my kitchen survived. Bread had a nice crust and was soft and chewy inside. Nate's since made another loaf that was even a bit more sour. I think he might try some of the variations in the book next time. Now we just have to figure out where to store the dough in the fridge!

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