I had to drown my sorrow in some food. Luckily, there were some freshly baked bread in the house. I mourned Dr. Derek Sheperd's death with a couple slices of this beautiful, home-made, crusty artisan bread. It almost made me forget about the Mcfreaking untimely demise...almost.
I enjoy making yeast bread, especially fuss-free ones. This recipe is a combination of Mel's Kitchen Cafe and my own twist. When I find a yeast bread recipe that is no-knead, has few ingredients, and looks great, I'm on it. From the very first batch, I had great results with a hard crust and springy, tender interior. I have tried some no-knead recipes before that resulted in a leaden bread, but not this one. This one is perfect!
There are no electrical gadgets needed to make this artisan bread, just bowls and a wooden spoon. I start by combining warm water and yeast in a large mixing bowl and set them aside for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom. The original recipe combined water, yeast, flour, and salt all at once. My method extends the prep time a few minutes, but I think it is worth the investment. It allows me to immediately see if my yeast is still alive and active, especially if I am using ones that have been sitting around a while. When all of the ingredients are combined at once, the only way to tell that the yeast is no good is if the dough does not proof. If it does not, it is back to square one because flat, unrisen bread dough make frisbees.
The next step is to add the flour and salt to the yeast mixture. I recommend adding a half cup shy of the total. Stir to blend, adding enough of the remaining flour, if needed, until the desired dough consistency is achieved. I made this recipe twice. The first time, I had to add a little extra water because I used the entire flour amount right off the bat. The resulting dough was too dry. The second time, my dough was too wet, even after using the full amount of flour. I had to add more flour to firm up the dough. In either case, the desired end consistency should be wet and sticky, yet stretches when pulled.
Once mixed the dough is allowed to rest in a warm spot for at least 2 and up to 5 hours. The longer the dough is allowed to proof, the better the flavor. After this first rise, the dough is shaped and allowed to rest for 40 additional minutes. At this point, it is slashed on top, dusted with flour. The loaf is then baked on a parchment paper lined baking stone or sheet pan over a steaming tray. When the bread comes out of the oven it looks like this! Yum!
I am not really a masterful bread baker, but this is the result I get using this recipe. The picture above was my second batch. How good does that look? Makes you want to run into the kitchen and whip up a batch doesn't it? Go right now! And have fun!
No-Knead Artisan Bread:
Adapted slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 1/3 leveled tbsp. salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large mixing bowl, add water and stir in yeast. Allow yeast to bloom for 5 minutes. Yeast mixture should be foamy and bubbly. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir to blend. Add flour mixture (minus 1/2 cup) to the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate. The dough consistency desired should be sticky but stretches when pulled. If dough is too wet, add flour, a couple tablespoons at a time. If dough is at too dry, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
|bread dough should be sticky, smooth, and |
stretches when pulled
|proofed bread dough|
Scrape dough off sides of the bowl. Grease the underside of a large plastic wrap. Cover bowl with wrap and cut several slits for circulation. Place in a warm area and allow to proof or rise for at least 2 and up to 5 hours. The dough should at least doubled in size and be sticky and elastic. At this point it could be baked right away or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
To bake right away, prep oven. Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven. If using a baking stone, place on rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven at 450 F. Preheat stone at that temperature for at least 20 minutes prior to baking. If using a baking sheet, place it (inverted) on the middle rack 10 minutes prior to baking.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on an inverted baking sheet (rim side down). Using well-floured hands, divide dough into two equal halves. Working with one of the halves at a time, place dough onto a well-floured work surface. Shape the dough into a loaf, stretching surface slightly, with the seam side down. Add more flour, if needed, to hands and work surface if dough sticks. Place loaf on top of the parchment paper. Allow dough to rest, uncovered or lightly covered, for 40 minutes. After resting, dust surface with flour and make 3 to 4 large horizontal slashes on top. Picking up the entire inverted baking sheet, slide parchment paper and dough onto the baking stone or baking sheet. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler pan and immediately close the oven door. Bake until bread is crusty and well browned, about 26-30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.
Note: Refrigerated dough need rest at room temp for 1 1/2 hour for the second rise.
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