Basic Artisan Bread Dough

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I got this recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. There are variations, and tips and techniques in the book that really make the book worth owning! HOWEVER, I think they might do voodoo, because they taught themselves how to make some of the most delicious breads on the planet, and they are both slender….I can eat only a slice or two…after running 5 miles. Because carbs hate me….damn delicious carbs. This amazing tome is also available as an ebook!

Artisan Bread In Five

If you love fresh bread like I do, this is a simple method for novice bread makers that makes AMAZING bread! (The French in me makes all bread and most wine irresistible to me. I keep promising myself I will stop trying different ingredients and toppings but then I find myself, elbow deep in the flour bin with my book open saying OOOoooh! Gotta make this one! Ok, sorry, back to the how to here):

Ingredients (makes 4 1 lb loaves)

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons course salt (I use kosher or course sea salt)
3 cups lukewarm water
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
cornmeal, for board

Tools:
Pizza stone (not necessary, but does make a great loaf)
Pizza peel, large cutting board, or other large straight edged surface you can move around
Small pan
Large lidded (non-airtight) container ( I use an old 4.5 quart ice cream bucket)

Instructions:
In lidded containter, add yeast, salt and water. Mix to dissolve.Measure flour in measuring cups, using the scoop and sweep method:

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Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon, making sure all the flour is incorporated. Just combine all the ingredients no kneading is necessary! (You may have a slightly larger bicep after stirring!)

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Cover your bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. I put it in the oven with only the interior light on. Once risen, you can use immediately, or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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When you are ready to bake, dust pizza peel or cutting board with cornstarch.

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Sprinkle flour over top of dough, then grab a grapefruit sized hunk of bread and cut off. Turn the bread a couple times clockwise turning edges under to form a round loaf (boule). You may need to keep your hands dusted with flour so keep it nearby. The dough can be pretty sticky.

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Place on peel or cutting board and allow to rest while oven heats (if you are using refrigerated dough, cover with plastic and give it an extra half hour before preheating oven) . Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place a small pan in the oven to heat up with your stone.

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When your oven is ready, dust the top of your loaf with flour and score the top of your loaf with a sharp knife to prevent it from cracking open in the oven. I usually do a hashtag like crisscross or a scalloped group of curved lines. Fill a cup with cold water and put it by the oven.

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Slide loaf from peel on to hot stone by pushing your board forward and pulling back quickly over the stone. This kinda slide-launches that baby right onto the stone. Once that’s done, grab your cup of water and toss it in that little pan you had heating up with the stone and shut the oven door quickly. This makes steam in the oven and gives your crust that nice chewy texture. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes until nicely browned and if you tap the bottom of the loaf it sounds hollow. Cool on wire rack as long as you can stand before you say screw it and hack off a piece, slather it with butter and shove it in your face! Enjoy!

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Here is a variation:
Add about 1 teaspoon of each thyme and rosemary to your bucket before adding the water and mix.
I also love making it with green olives, but you add those AFTER it has risen. I was out of green olives so I added black olives and real bacon pieces.

Make your boule as above, but dust the counter with flour and flatten it out. Top with olives, bacon, whatever sounds good. (If you want cheese, it’s best to mix a harder cheese, such as cheddar into the actual dough…add 1 cup to your water mixture before adding your flour)

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Roll up like a jelly roll and press to seal:

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Then pull the sides around and tuck them under:

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Then shape back into a boule and place on peel to rest while your oven heats. Dust with flour and score:

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Bake at 450 for 30 minutes and cool on rack. Enjoy!

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