All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.
I had this sort of Artisan bread when I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Arkansas home of my friends Ed & Andrea. Andrea has a cool food blog of her own called On Life & Beans. HERE is her recipe for a large quantity of this sort of dough. It is a simple, hearty, rustic bread that works well for everything. Hers was delicious!
I started smaller than her recipe. The secret to this bread is 1) making the dough & letting it rest for AT LEAST 2 hours but up to 12-18 hours and 2) putting a pan of water in your oven when you bake the bread – which results in a crazy awesome & crusty exterior.
There are few recipes more simple than this one. You can make as much dough as you like & it will keep, raw, in your fridge for up to TWO WEEKS for you to rip hunks off of at will & bake yourself some fresh bread any day. It’s kind of a miracle. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you try this at least once.
Crazy Super Easy & Quick Artisan Bread
6 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 TBS salt
1 1/2 TBS yeast (or 1 1/2 packets of yeast)
3 cups warm water
Whisk the yeast into the warm water in a very large bowl.
Add the salt & let it dissolve. Add the flour & blend with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated & you have a very sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking oil & let it sit for 2-5 hours in a warm spot in your kitchen.
At this point, you can bake immediately or you can put the bowl of raw dough in the fridge. It will keep for up to two weeks!!! I let mine chill overnight but this is not necessary. You can bake it after the two hour rising & get on with the show. Here is how it looked after a night in the fridge:
To bake, pre-heat the over to 450 and be sure to let it get to 450 before you put your bread in there. I used a pizza stone that I never use for pizza – but only because the thing lives in my oven anyway – so why not put it to SOME use? You could use a cookie sheet or a cast iron pan or cast iron Dutch oven. Place a pan (or pie tin or something) on the bottom of your oven with a cup of water in it. This is critical as it will steam your bread into – counter-intuitively – a very crusty exterior. If you hate crusty bread (weirdo!) – skip the pan of water.
I tore off a hunk of dough (about 1/2 the entire quantity I made) & rolled & stretched it a bit until I formed a loaf that was sorta smooth & round on the top. I slashed the dough a few times with a serrated knife & then placed the dough on parchment paper & then put this on the pizza stone on the middle rack. No parchment paper? No worries. Cornmeal works to keep the dough from sticking. Do not be alarmed if the cornmeal browns & smokes in your oven. That is some excess flour you see on the parchment paper. It smoked & burned & smelled bad & I will not get any on my paper in the future.
I baked mine bread for 25 minutes. Time will depend on the size of the loaf you make. It should look nice & golden – even browned – on the outside. Be sure to let it get golden or your risk a wet & doughy center in your loaf.
Remove from the oven & let cool or devour immediately.