I fell head-over-heels in love with artisan bread before I even knew what it was. While browsing through cookbooks in the library (They exist! Who knew?) I found this awesome book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and it’s filled with tons of recipes for homemade bread.
In being super uninformed about… well most things, I totally thought artisan bread meant that these recipes were made by “bread-artisans.”
I honestly don’t think I can feel much dumber.
For those of you who are on the same page as me, “Artisan Bread” means bread traditionally made by artisans who are too busy with their craft (ie. shoemaking, carpentering, designing…) to sit down and pay close attention to their bread. This means all recipes are quick, usually no-knead needed, and super delicious anyway! It’s like the minimalist approach to breads!
Usually, I’m not much of an easy-quick recipe kind of person, but because I’m home for springbreak without library access, I’m stuck with this guy for a whole week. I figured I might as well give it a spin.
I started out with the basic Boule recipe. This is dubbed the “Master Recipe” because you can use this base recipe and adapt it to create numerous other types of breads. You can also make plain Boule and enjoy the bare-bones basic artisan bread.
The taste isn’t very exotic, but there’s something very pure and refined about it. The crust has a perfect slight crunch to it, and the interior is soft: not too chewy, not too airy. It’s exactly what you’d expect bread to be.
Here’s my adaption of their recipe. We can share the same heart of our bread, like friendship dough, except from a distance!
BOULE MASTER RECIPE
- 3 Cups of warmed water
- 1.5 Tablespoons of yeast
- A pinch of salt
- 6.5 cups of flour (generic white, or something fancy if you’re feeling up to it 😉 )
- a smidgen of cornmeal for later
- Warm up the water, try about 30 seconds in the microwave
- Add the yeast and salt to the warm water in a large bowl
- Mix in the flour. You can use a fancy-pants machine, or save some electricity and dishes to wash by using wet hands. I prefer the latter. Something about getting your hands dirty feels adventurous and exciting! It should be a quick process that leaves the dough loose enough to mold to the shape of the container.
- Put a loose fitting lid (or a cloth) over it. DO NOT LET IT SEAL. Let it rise. Two hours about all it needs, but longer won’t hurt.
- Refrigerate for three hours or more. You can leave it in the fridge for up to 14 days, and use it as needed.
- When you’re ready to bake, you have to make a pizza peel, which is essentially a surface smeared with the cornmeal so your bread can stand up a little and be elevated slightly. This lets the bottom cook without being burned, and it will prevent your bread from sticking.
- Gently cover the surface of your dough in flour to get what you need without any unexpected tag-along pieces.
- Shape the bread. Remember, you’re a lazy artisan that doesn’t have time for perfect bread! Simply take a 1 pound piece (about the size of a grapefruit) and fold the ends underneath it until it turns into a pretty looking ball. The folds won’t matter because they’ll mold together underneath the loaf. Set it on the pizza peel.
- Let it rest for about 40 minutes* preheat the oven as needed
- Dust the dough with more flour so you can make little slits in it with grace
- Make slashes in your bread. Tic-tac-toe grids, parallel lines, and just about any other simple formation will make your lazy-bread look like the baker’s pride! My favorite is a simple X shape. Make 1/4″ incisions with a knife, or use kitchen sheers to prevent the bread from “smearing.”
- Transfer the bread to a cooking stone, or whatever your prefered surface is.
- Fill a cake/brownie pan with about an inch of water, place it in your oven to “steam” the bread.
- Bake your bread at 450 F for 30 minutes
- Let it cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!
Now that looks like a lot, but you have to take into account that a lot of that mess of words is me making silly comments, and honestly, there’s a lot of waiting, and not much doing. You can make it into a big deal, or you can work for a collective 5 minutes on this. It is what you make it, but remember at the end of the day, this is artisan bread. The lazier, the better.