Skip to content

Mission Accomplished: Artisan Bread

March 31, 2011

I have about a 60% success rate with bread. I have been badly looking to change this. I can make brioche well. I have made some really serious pretzels. Pizza dough is a non-issue. But a big loaf of bread is more difficult for me. And, I finally figured out what I’ve been doing wrong.

Bread flour! In the past I’ve been using all-purpose flour, and it has sometimes yielded bread that you might use as a weapon. Doubled in size? Never. Grew by 20%? Sure.

This bread was nothing short of fantastic. It’s fluffy and chewy and the inside is soft with a slightly crisp outer layer. It lasted 5 days without getting weird. That’s pretty great, no? Michael wanted to know if I could recreate it so we can stop buying bread. I am planning on it!

I adapted a few recipes and came up with this one. Here’s how it happened:

1.5 cups warm water (~110 degrees)

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

1 package active dry yeast (I used Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise)

3 1/4 cups bread flour

In a stand mixer or bowl, pour in your warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Add sugar and salt, give a gentle stir and let stand about 5 minutes. If your yeast is active and you’ve not killed it (I have done it!), it will start to be foamy. If not, start over. The whole exercise won’t work.

Add your flour and incorporate. It will be very shaggy and sticky. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled bowl (I like olive or grapeseed oil), and cover with a towel.

Let rise in a warm place. I let it rise on a warm stove while I’m baking other things, but one option Anne told me about was to let it rise in a cold oven with just the light on. Apparently, the light alone raises the temp in the oven to 100 degrees, which is great for rising!

Let it rise for about 2.5 hours. It will be growing in leaps and bounds. With floured hands, cut or rip a good handful of bread off the dough, and set aside. The dough is going to still be wet and kind of slippery. Don’t worry. Still with floured hands, shape the dough into a ball of sorts on a piece of parchment set on a baking sheet. There should be a light dusting of flour on your bread ball.

Roll out the little piece of bread you have set aside. It’ll be sticky and snap back a lot, but should roll out easily. Stretch this piece of bread across and around the top of the bread. Tuck the ends under the ball. Make a few knife marks across the top, cover and let rise about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is preheating, place a pizza brick in the oven. Transfer dough on parchment paper to pizza brick. Add a pan below the pizza brick and fill with 1 cup water (I used a small LeCreuset for this purpose). This will release some steam and help with the crispy crust. Cook 30-40 minutes. The dough will continue to rise in the oven.

If you can manage to let it cool before cutting, try that. Otherwise, it’ll be super hot, so use a dishtowel to hold the top lightly and cut with a good breadknife. We hope you like it!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2011 3:29 pm

    Bread just takes practice. I still do little things wrong after several years of making my own bread. This looks phenomenal and is proof you should keep at it.

    • March 31, 2011 3:47 pm

      Thanks so much! I have been keeping at it and plan to make more – with bread flour, no doubt! 🙂

  2. June 13, 2011 7:21 pm

    Recipes and measurement have a lot to do with it too I think. I finally got a big girl bread book and an electronic scale so I can measure everything out right. I’m hoping that turns my bread failure into success!

    • June 13, 2011 9:34 pm

      I’m excited to see what you end up making! Let me know how the scale goes. I made a Norwegian loaf recently and I loved it. And I love making challah too. But mainly, I just love making this loaf right here. It’s perfect every time and that makes me very happy. Haha. I need to branch out more.


  1. Weekend Adventure: Plymouth Food Truck Festival « OK, Let's Do This!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: