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Master Bread Recipe-Adapted From Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Bread Recipe used With Permission from Author Zoe Francois
Prep Time2 hrs 40 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time3 hrs 10 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bread
Servings: 12 Servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Granulated Yeast 1 ½ packages
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 6 ½ cups unsifted unbleached, all purpose white flour

Instructions

Making the dough

  • Put the warm water in a large bowl or plastic food container with a lid (not air-tight).
  • Add the yeast and salt to the water.
  • Add in the flour, measuring with dry-measuring cups, using the “scoop and sweep” method. Don’t pack the flour into the cup. Mix the flour into the water with a wooden spoon. You can also do this in a large heavy duty stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Mix until the dough has come together and there are no dry patches or clumps of flour. The dough will be wet.
  • Measuring with the scoop and sweep method. Mixed dough before it rises.
  • Cover and allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse or flatten on top (about 2 hours).
  • At this point, you can use the dough, but it’s easier to handle when cold. Cover with lid and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The dough should keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The batch should yield 4 one pound loaves.

Baking the Bread

  • Sprinkle the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour. Grab a handful of dough (1 pound is about grapefruit sized) and cut it off from the batch.
  • Forming the boule and making the "gluten cloak".
  • With a little extra flour to keep it from sticking, hold the dough in your hands and stretch the dough around the sides and underneath to form a ball. This is called the “gluten cloak”.
  • Let the ball of dough rest, either on a baking sheet or pizza peel covered with cornmeal. The recipe suggests using a pizza peel to move the dough to a baking stone in the oven. I don’t have a peel or a stone so I’ve had to improvise. Most of the time I use a baking sheet with a  Silpat Silicone Baking Mat on it and but I've also baked directly on an unglazed terracotta tile. Both came out good.
  • Let the dough rest for 40 minutes.
  • Twenty minutes before baking, turn on the oven to 450 degrees. Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven and baking stone on that, if you have one. Put an empty pan or broiler tray on the bottom rack or floor of the oven (this will hold water later).
  • Right before baking, dust the top of the loaf with flour and slash with a knife in a cross or tic tac toe pattern.
  • Put the loaf of bread in the oven and add 1 cup of water to the broiler pan (be careful!). This creates steam which will help the bread make a great crust.
  • Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes or until it is nicely browned.
  • Taking the fresh, hot loaf out of the oven.

Notes

Some lessons I learned after making a dozen loaves:
Use unbleached flour. Bleached flour gives a different consistency (more on this in the book). My first batch never quite rose the way it should have because of this.
I get about 3 loaves per batch because I like a bigger loaf. This means a slightly longer baking time.
The dough really will hold in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Over time it takes on a more “sourdough” type of flavor.
Tip: Don't mistakenly put a loaf of bread into an oven that's been super-heated for pizza. Trust me, it's not pretty.
Herb Bread: The book says to mix herbs into the dough with the water mixture. One day I chopped up some fresh rosemary (about 1 Tbsp) and sprinkled it onto a handful of pre-made dough. I worked it into the dough with a little light kneading as I made the gluten cloak. This worked just fine and made wonderful, fragrant, Rosemary Bread.