Anyhow...I LOVE bread. I love GOOD bread. I love sourdough bread. I love artisan bread. I love chewy bread. I love moist bread. I love THIS bread!
At first, I thought that the premise of this bread - Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day - was just a joke to get me to buy a cookbook. Wrong. It really does only take about 5 work minutes of my actual time to make a loaf of this bread. I can handle that! So I don't get in trouble for "not giving credit where credit is due"...you can find more recipes from the folks that created this one at artisanbreadinfive.com.
Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Master Recipe
3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 teaspoons coarse salt
7 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose or artisan flour (measure using scoop and sweep method)
This is enough dough for 4 (1-lb.) loaves, but I actually make 2 (2-lb) loaves instead otherwise Melon Man eats a whole loaf at once.
Mixing the dough:
In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded Food Storage Container, dump in the water and add the yeast and salt.
Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a long handled wooden spoon or a Danish Dough Whisk.
Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, as you can see it will be a wet rough dough.
Put the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut. You want the gases from the yeast to escape. (You can put a little hole in the top of the lids so that you can close the lid and still allow the gases to get out. As you can see it doesn’t take much of a hole to accomplish this.)
The dough will be flat on the top and some of the bubbles may even appear to be popping. (If you intend to refrigerate the dough after this stage it can be placed in the refrigerator even if the dough is not perfectly flat. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator.) The dough can be used right after the initial 2 hour rise, but it is much easier to handle when it is chilled.
The next time you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you will notice that it has collapsed and this is totally normal for the dough. It will never rise up again in the container.
Making the loaf:
Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.
You should notice that the dough has a lot of stretch once it has rested. (If your dough breaks off instead of stretching like this your dough is probably too dry and you can just add a few tablespoons of water and let it sit again until the dough absorbs the additional water.)
Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears and form it into a ball by tucking the sides of the dough under the ball while twisting and turning the dough to do so. Place the ball on a generous layer of corn meal on top of a pizza peel. (The picture shows it on parchment paper instead.)
Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes (although letting it go 60 or even 90 minutes will give you a more open hole structure in the interior of the loaf. This may also improve the look of your loaf and prevent it from splitting on the bottom.). You will notice that the loaf does not rise much during this rest, in fact it may just spread sideways, this is normal for this dough.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a Baking Stone* on the center rack, with a broiler tray on the bottom rack, which will be used to produce steam. (The tray needs to be at least 4 or 5 inches away from your stone to prevent it from cracking.)
Slide the loaf into the oven onto the preheated stone (the one in the picture is cast iron) and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Quickly close the oven door to prevent the steam from escaping. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until it's a deep brown color. As the bread bakes you should notice a nice oven spring in the dough. This is where the dough rises.