I have been playing around with some of the bread recipes in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day for a few weeks.
I have mentioned in a previous post, the sticky buns are amazing and so simple. But one (really shouldn’t) live on sticky buns alone. At some stage you want something to go with some nice cheese or to send your child to school with (they tend to frown at pastry dripping with butter and sugar in lunch boxes unless you send enough for the staff room).
The Master Recipe is a great place to start. There are heaps of variations in the book and I recommend it highly.
I have played around with the recipe quite a bit. I prefer to add some sourdough starter. The dough (for me) when fuelled purely by yeast loses a bit of oomph after a week in the fridge. This is helped slightly by adding some starter. I also hate to throw things away so it makes sense to put excess starter to use.
This makes a really nice freeform loaf. It makes a good easy bagette (although time and organisation permitting I prefer the Acme Bakery recipe in Maggie Gleezers book, Artisan Baking). The breads from this book come into their own in freeform shapes. In a loaf tin you need to fill it at least 3/4 full. It is still good but probably not my favourite format for this recipe.
You can find the recipe here. I have given my notes and metric conversions.
The Master Recipe: Artisan Free Form Loaf.
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007). Copyright 2007 by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.
Makes four 1 pound loaves.
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance.
- 3 cups (720g) lukewarm water
- 1-1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoon) granulated yeast (about 1-1/2 packets)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 3 teaspoons table salt)
- 6-1/2 cups (940g) unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting dough
- optional 200g of well fed sourdough starter
- Cornmeal for the peel (or leave on baking paper)
In a large plastic resealable container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm (about 100 degrees) water.(make sure you follow this step. When I skipped it I found a ribbon of undisolved yeast). Using a large spoon, stir in flour, mixing until mixture is uniformly moist with no dry patches. Do not knead. Dough will be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of plastic container. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. (I mix mine in a bowl and then put in a lightly oiled 4.75l decor brand container).
Let dough rise at room temperature, until dough begins to flatten on top or collapse, at least 2 hours (takes an hour in Darwin) and up to 5 hours. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; refrigerated dough is easier to work with than room-temperature dough, so the authors recommend that first-time bakers refrigerate dough overnight or at least 3 hours.)
When ready to bake, sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel. Place a broiler pan on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and repeat oven to 450 degrees, preheating baking stone for at least 20 minutes.
Sprinkle a little flour on dough and on your hands. Pull dough up and, using a serrated knife, cut off a grapefruit-size piece (about 1 pound). Working for 30 to 60 seconds (and adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands; most dusting flour will fall off, it’s not intended to be incorporated into dough), turn dough in hands, gently stretching surface of dough, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go, creating a rounded top and a bunched bottom.
Place shaped dough on prepared pizza peel and let rest, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it in lidded container. (Even one day’s storage improves flavor and texture of bread. Dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in airtight containers and defrosted overnight in refrigerator prior to baking day.) Dust dough with flour.
Using a serrated knife, slash top of dough in three parallel, ¼-inch deep cuts (or in a tic-tac-toe pattern). Slide dough onto preheated baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into broiler pan and quickly close oven door to trap steam. Bake until crust is well-browned and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool completely.
You can also pull off just enough for a bread roll or two (150g makes a nice hamburger bun) as in the pictures above.