Declaration: Artisan Bread is, hands down, the most delicious bit of carbohydrates you could ever allow to pass lip.
And while I was afraid to tackle Artisan Breads because they looked far too beautiful to ever be created by myself, I’m so pleased to say that not only did I tackle the entire endeavor this week, I came out absolutely triumphant and totally converted. I will make Artisan breads, constantly.
While there are a few more steps to creating these crusty on the outside, moist on the inside boules, in other ways, its much easier than other forms of bread baking. This basic Artisan Bread I created last night did not require a single bit of kneading or rolling out on a flowered surface. Hurrah!
And the ingredients are simple and always on hand: flour, yeast, hot water, and kosher salt. That’s it! Rising times don’t have to be exact and the only difficult bits include the fact the doughs are super sticky and you have to have a plastic container with a lid to allow the bread to mellow out in. Check and Check.
Following directions in the book Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (which also has an excellent blog I follow),I did place my dough in a seal-tight covered plastic jug in the refrigerator overnight; this allowed for me to handle the dough easier when I molded the boules–with it being so wet and sticky, the colder the dough, the easier to work with. All you do is cover your hands in flour, seperate the dough into grapefruit size heaps, and mold them in a rotating motion into round balls. Then place them on a cornmealed peel to rest while the oven preheats for 20 minutes at 450 degrees.
Inside the oven, a stone is heating along with the oven, as well as a dutch oven type pot or dish on the bottom rack. After 20 minutes, you slide the boules into the oven quickly and add 1 cup of hot water to the dutch oven or broiler below and slam closed the oven door. This creates a “steam bath” for the bread to cook in, approximately 30 some odd minutes (don’t check on it and let the steam escape!) and creates that deliciously crusty outside.
And because the bread is sooo sticky and wet when it goes into the oven, its pretty much a sure bet it will come out super moist on the inside.
And let me tell you. It is the most phenomenal–and beautiful!–looking and tasting bread. The kosher salt is robust, so the bread tastes salty enough, which is just how I like it. The outside crust is chewy and delicious, while the inside is light and fluffy and moist. All in all, the greatest bread I’ve ever made.
File Under: Perfection.