No-knead and practically fool-proof artisan bread with a crusty exterior and a light and tender interior. If you are a novice bread baker, you need to try this out!
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!
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