Water, salt, yeast, flour. A little time in a warm nook and then into the oven. Something magical happens. Bread has been made.
Ever since I was a teenager and started cooking and baking, I’ve occasionally dabbled with bread making. Nothing awesome has ever come of it. The results were never near what I could purchase from a grocery store and definitely never even close to what I could get at a bakery. That is at least until I borrowed Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day from my local library.
When my daughter asks me specifically for mama’s homemade bread or my husband declares his sandwich the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever, you know you’re doing something right.
The method that is laid out in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is so very easy. Yes, it takes dedication and it takes time. But it isn’t four hours one day to produce one measly loaf that sits uneaten. It is seriously five minutes to prepare the dough and then an hour or so of idle rising and baking times.
And the results are beautiful. The master recipe produces a beautiful boule, baguette, or cibiatta that will disappear in minutes if you aren’t careful. The recipe makes great bread for sandwiches, for garlic bread, for snacking on. It has a beautiful crisp crust with a tender interior. Dress it up simply with butter, or cinnamon sugar, or make it into a turkey sandwich. It’s just great. Ask my daughter, she’ll tell you.
The book and a 4 quart container. I would go with a large container, though. My dough tends to overflow.
3 cups of lukewarm water, pour into your container.
1 1/2 tablespoons of dry yeast. You know you are addicted to this recipe when you start buying your yeast in two pound bags at Costco.
1/2 tablespoon salt. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarse salt, but this is what I have on hand.
Into the bowl it goes….
And ready for a quick whisk.
6 1/2 cups of unbleached flour. Use the swoop and sweep method to help ensure that you get the correct measurement. My dough always tend to be a bit dry, so I normally add a little more water after mixing.
Mix it with your wet hands until everything is combined and there are not too many clumps.
Set it in a warm spot for about two hours.
Then, put your whole container in the fridge, overnight.
When ready, cut a chunk of dough off, approximately grapefruit size or 1 pound. I formed this one into a baguette-style loaf. Let it sit and rise for approximately 20 minutes and then heat your oven with a pizza stone and broiler pan to 450 degrees (I find my oven runs a bit cold, so I heat mine to 500).
Brushed it with water instead of dusting it with flour (either option works well)
And sliced the top.
My setup in the oven. When your oven comes to temp, put your loaf on the heated pizza stone and pour a cup of water into the broiler pan.
Baked the loaf for 25-30 minutes.
This is another loaf that I baked, but look at that beautiful crust and crumb. So delicious warm with salted butter. I turned this into garlic bread.
Besides how good this bread tastes, the beauty of this method is that I have a tub of dough in my fridge that is capable of making 3-4 loafs of bread of a bunch of small rolls. This dough can be used for tons of other breads, too (I made a great cinnamon raisin bread this weekend). The prep is simple, clean up is simple, and the results are fantastic.