It’s cold. It’s winter. I want bread. Hot homemade bread. There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to bake and wear slippers and drink cocoa. Ideally, someone would bring bread to my door around dinner time. ( A little soup wouldn’t hurt either ). HOWEVER, reality is cruel.
I wanted to learn how to make artisan bread. In moments of crisis in our world, truthfully, I start nesting. Gathering food storage and panicking just a bit. I really wanted to learn how to use my food storage, and to make bread. Flour, yeast and salt are pretty much staples right? No oil or eggs needed, so in a pinch it could be done. It’s the perfect use of what you already have.
World crisis’ aside, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the store to pick up a loaf of artisan bread and plunked down $5.00 to $6.00 for it. This artisan bread including the asiago cheese, probably costs .50 cents a loaf. It’s yummy and hearty and is simple to do. My dear friend Gaylyn taught me how to make it. Thank you, girl.
The great thing about this artisan bread recipe is that it can be doubled or halved and keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It’s so nice to pull out homemade dough when you make spaghetti or soup, and you (and your house), come out smellin’ like a rose. Spend some time one afternoon making dough and your good for a while. Another perk is that there are only four ingredients and you probably have them on hand.
1 1/2 T granulated yeast ( 2 packets )
1 1/2 T kosher, sea or any corse salt
3 cups very warm but not hot water
6 1/2 cups UNBLEACHED flour
1). Place the first three ingredients in a large bowl or Bosche mixer. Stir just to mix. Add 6 1/2 cups UNBLEACHED flour all at once. You can mix this by hand with a wooden spoon or in the mixer. Mix on low speed or by hand ONLY until incorporated and uniform and there are no streaks of flour or dry patches. The dough will be sticky. Do not knead.
2). Transfer dough into a large 5 quart bowl. Cover with a lid ( not airtight ). At room temperature, let the dough rise at least 2 hours. Longer rising time, up to 5 hours will not hurt the dough. It can be used from now on or put directly in the refrigerator.
3). Before baking, place a baking sheet or pizza stone that has been sprinkled with cornmeal in the oven to preheat. Place a cake pan or broiler pan with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water under the baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Allow pan and water to preheat for 20 minutes.
4). When you are ready to bake, pull a grapefruit sized piece up and out of the dough. It will be sticky so flour up your hands. Hold the ball in your hands, add a little flour so it doesn’t stick. Stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Try not to handle it more than 30 seconds.
5). Flour your counter and let the dough ball rest and rise for another 40 minutes. It doesn’t need to be covered. Dust the top liberally with flour and slash a 1/4 inch deep “tic-tac-toe” pattern on the top with a serrated bread knife. Cover generously with grated asiago or parmesan cheese, or leave plain.
6). Slide bread onto the preheated stone. Bake for about 30 minutes or until bread is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow to cool, preferably on a wire cooling rack.
7). Herb bread. Add 1tsp. thyme ( 2tsp. fresh ) and 1 tsp. dried rosemary to water mixture. You can also add craisins or lemon zest, blueberries, roasted garlic. Whatever makes you salivate.
If you double the recipe, you’d have enough to share, and IDEALLY someone could bring homemade bread to MY door around dinner time….