My most recent trip to the library I brought home Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. After flipping through it several times I realized that this is a book I need for Christmas (hint, hint). I made only the Master Recipe, in two different shapes: Boule and Baguette. I have renewed the book several times, because there are so many other recipes I want to try. I know soon I will have to return it, it would be so nice to have a copy of my own (hint, hint).
The bread is truly easy to make. It is a wet dough that you store lightly covered in your refrigerator, you pull off a hunk of dough when you are ready to bake. Last month we went over to a friends house for dinner, when I asked what I could contribute to the dinner, I was asked to bring bread to eat with the chili. It was so easy, I grabbed a couple grapefruit-sized hunks of dough from the fridge, shaped into baguettes, let rise and bake. It really took no effort on my part. How wonderful is that? Homemade bread without all the effort. The authors say that the master recipe can be stored for up to 14 days and it will become more sourdough flavored the longer it sits. I can not tell you if this is true, because the bread is so good, I used up all my dough after two days (actually less than 48 hours).
The Master Recipe: Boule
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
Makes four 1 lb loaves
3 c lukewarm (100 degrees F) water
1 1/2 T granulated yeast (I used dry active)
1 1/2 T kosher salt
6 1/2 c unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
Mixing and Storing the Dough
In a large, resealable food storage container, mix water, yeast and salt. Add in all the flour (no kneading required!). Mix together (I used a strong wooden spoon) until everything is moist. You should be able to mix the dough together relatively quickly. Allow dough to rise in bowl on the counter for 2 hours (up to 5 hours), you could use the dough after this rise if you wanted to. Refrigerated dough is less sticky, so, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Ready to Bake
Cover your pizza peal with cornmeal (I do not own a pizza peal, so instead I use parchment paper). Sprinkle your dough with a little flour. Pull up and pinch off a grapefruit sized (1 lb) blob of dough. Add a little more flour, so the dough won’t stick to your hands. Stretch the dough around to the bottom to make a ball shape, this will take a few seconds to achieve. The end result will be a smooth ball of dough. Put your ball of dough on the pizza peal to rise for 40 minutes (does not need to be covered). Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place your baking stone in the lower third of your oven, and a empty boiler tray on the top shelf. Once the bread is ready to go into the oven, dust the top with flour and make 1/4 in. slash marks in the top with a bread knife. Quickly transfer bread to pizza stone, and add 1 c hot water to boiler tray. Quickly close the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until bread looks brown and crusty. Cool completely before slicing.