Brad's Budget Artisan Bread
In the spirit of sharing, I thought I would offer a recipe for bread that high-end bakeries charge a lot of money.
You will need the following reusable items (and after these purchases sit is very inexpensive):
Baking (aka Pizza) Stone
Pizza Peel (The thing you slide pizza into an oven with, but you could use the back or a sheet pan if you flour or corn meal it well so the dough can slide off easily)
Food grade container or tub with a lid (not air tight, but so it will keep stuff out)
A pan for holding water in the oven (I use the bottom part of my Broiler Pan)
6 cups of water that feels barely warm to the touch.
3 Tablespoons Kosher or Sea Salt
3 Tablespoons of SAF Instant Yeast
13 cups of unbleached white flour.
A little extra flour for sprinkling.
Corn Meal if you prefer it to flour for coving your peel.
Stir ingredients together in order listed above in the container you purchased. No need to Knead the bread, just stir it all together. The dough will look wetter than your usual bread loaf would, but this is how it should be.
Let stand on the cupboard for 2 hours. You will be amazed at how much it grows in the container.
Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours ( you can use it after it has stood on the counter for two hours, but this will make it easier to handle)
It can now be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
When ready to use, sprinkle a little flour on your hands and on the top of the dough then just tear off a hunk the size you want to use, and shape it into a ball. You don’t want to handle the dough too much and it really doesn’t need it. Place the dough on the floured / Cornmeal covered Pizza Peel and then gently rub flour on the top of the round of dough (this is called a gluten cloak) and score the top of the dough with a sharp knife. This will help enable it to rise. You can be as creative as you want to with the scoring. I prefer just cutting lines shaped like “((|))”, but you could do a square or any other design you wish. Let it stand for 20 minutes on the peel, and then set your oven to 450F with the baking stone and pan in the oven. When the oven hits 450 the dough will be ready. If the bread hasn't risen much don’t worry, it will in the oven (this is called Oven Spring). With the hottest tap water you can get out of your sink, fill a glass to about one and a half cups. Take the glass and your pizza peel to the oven. Open the oven and with a jerking motion, slip your dough onto the baking stone. Next quickly pour the water into the pan (which should be below the baking stone) to 'flash' your oven. Then close the door and let the bread bake for about 30 minutes. Remember the bread is really going to rise so make sure you have no racks above the stone.
When the bread comes out of the oven it will have a crackling crust you can thump, but it will soften quickly. Let it rest on a rack for a while if you are not eating it right away (I dare you to wait....yeah you won’t) then the crust will become chewy and crunchy again, but the inside will be moist and delicious.
If you use a grapefruit sized round of dough, you should get about 8 loaves out of this recipe and it will take less than 15 minutes of hands on time each day. There is a bakery near my house named 'Kneaders' and they charge $6 for one of these loaves. When I make it, I make at least two loaves and then give one away to someone in the neighborhood or at work. I also barter with it for eggs, so enjoy the fruits of your labors. We find that we pay about $1 for each loaf we make, and I know exactly what is in it.
When serving this bread, I recommend real butter and raw honey for an exceptional treat. These loaves also make really great bread bowls for chili, stews, and especially chowders.
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