Yeast has been my nemesis for as long as I can remember. And it's sort of sad since my Great Gramma Buckholt is legendary in my family for making THE best-ever homemade rolls and bread. She taught my Mom how to make them, but I never have taken the time to learn. Until now? She must have been looking down from The Great Kitchen in the Sky and shaking her head at me. One of my 2011 Foodie Resolutions was to make a loaf of bread -- from scratch -- and slather it with real butter before gobbling it up. I finally got up the nerve to do just that thanks to my dear friend Erin. She's an excellent baker, and she assured me that she'd turn me into a bread baker in the course of my visit last weekend.
She recently found a really great recipe that's so easy that even I wasn't intimidated by it. The dough is simple to whip up, makes enough for four loaves of bread, and lasts in the fridge for up to two weeks. Best of all? No kneading is required. This sounded like the PERFECT recipe for me to get started with! The recipe is from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The authors are Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois. Zoe just so happens to be a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher...her website is Zoe Bakes, so go by and check out some of her other fantastic recipes and stunning photos!! Their website Bread in 5 Minutes has a great video that demonstrates their simple bread-making technique in specific detail, so go check it out!
If I can do this? Then I promise that ANYBODY can do this and get the same amazing results!! This is the first time I've ever made a loaf of homemade bread, and this recipe was just the confidence-booster that I needed. I decided to start with a basic French boule. It came out golden and crunchy on the outside, and the interior was moist and flavorful. We tweaked the original recipe just a smidge based on Erin's experience using this recipe in the Texas humidity. We upped the yeast just a tad and reduced the salt just a tad. Otherwise? We followed the recipe exactly.
Lickity Split Artisan Bread
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Step 2: Add 3 cups of lukewarm water to your plastic container. Add 2 level tbs. of yeast and 1 tbs. of Kosher salt to the water. Give it a stir, then add 6 1/2 cups of flour. Stir well to combine. I started out with a wooden spoon, but ended up using my hands to get it to combine completely.
Step 3: Place the lid on top of the container, but leave it partially open on one side to allow gas to escape. Set the container on the counter for 2 hours. The dough will rise during this time. Don't punch it down at the end of the rise. Instead, place it in the fridge -- with the lid open on one side -- for up to two weeks. You can make a loaf of bread immediately after the rise, but the dough is easier to handle once it has chilled for a few hours.
Step 4: When you're ready to bake a loaf of bread, sprinkle your pizza peel or parchment with cornmeal -- this will keep the dough from sticking. Sprinkle the surface of the dough in your container with flour. Pull up and cut 1/4 of the dough from the container. Place the dough in your hands and add more flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Move the dough under as your turn it in your hands, until a ball is formed. This takes about 30 seconds. Place the dough on the pizza peel or parchment.
Step 6: Transfer the bread to the pizza stone. Add 1 cup of water to the pan you placed on the rack underneath the bread. Immediately close the oven door so the steam stays inside. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, until it's golden and the crust is firm to the touch.
Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting with a serrated bread knife. Serve warm, with real butter. Bread this good deserves the real deal!
This bread is truly fabulous -- it's full of flavor, and the crust is nice and crunchy. I could hardly believe that I made it with my own two hands! It was so simple to make that I can see myself having a container of this dough in my fridge at all times so I can whip up a loaf of bread or dinner rolls in no time flat. I plan to buy the cookbook so I can try more of the five-minute bread doughs that are in the book.
So...I can officially cross bread making off my list of most-feared culinary experiences. I'd like to think that Gramma Buckholt is smiling down at me and my first bread-making adventure!!