Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Artisan Bread

I have been playing with this artisan bread recipe for about a year now. I have no idea why it took me this long in my bread making journey to find this simple process. I am convinced that artisan bread is what our pioneer and pilgrim mothers made on a daily basis. It is so simple that there is no need to feel intimidated! It makes any soup or casserole night amazing!

Even my preschooler can do most of the work - here she is mixing the dry ingredients together. You can create a pantry mix using the dry ingredients and then bread baking day becomes that much faster. All you would need to do is add the water and give it a stir. 

Add the water and stir it all together. Do not knead the dough - just stir it until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

The dough will be sticky - DO NOT ADD ANY MORE FLOUR! You want it to be a bit sticky.

Cover your bowl with a loose fitting lid and set it on the counter for 2-5 hours to rest.

It will rise and bubble and eventually fall to a flat mass of dough. At this point, move the dough to the fridge, keeping it in the loosely covered bowl. Use it over the next couple of weeks just breaking off the amount of dough you want to use. 

On baking day, pull off what you will use. (I end up baking it all up most of the time since the loaves freeze very well.) Put the dough in a pile of flour on your counter. Turn it over a time or two so it becomes not so sticky and easier to work with.

I divided mine into two good sized loaves.

Shape into loaves and place on a greased baking sheet. Follow the baking directions below.

Once cooled, slice and enjoy. If you are like my family and can't wait for it to cool, it may not slice as cleanly. Who cares anyway - it's artisan bread. Doesn't that mean it can look rustic and imperfect?

Go ahead and give it a try. The recipe below features three options. The directions are the same for all options. You can just choose how much whole grain you want.

Wrap any cooled loaves you don't eat in plastic bags and freeze. They will hold for 4-6 weeks in the freezer.

Artisan Bread
Basic Recipe
6 ½ cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ Tbsp yeast  
3 cups warm water

Whole Wheat Recipe
3  ½ cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ Tbsp yeast  
3 ½ cups warm water

Whole Grain Recipe
3  ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup 10 grain cereal mix
2 Tbsp ground flax seed               
2 cups all-purpose flour or additional whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ Tbsp yeast                  
4-4¼ cups warm water  (Use all of it if you used all whole wheat flour.) 
Directions: Stir everything together in a large bowl using a big wooden spoon. (I always use SAF instant yeast in this recipe and have had success every time.) It should be sticky and appear to need more flour. Do not add any more flour! Rest a lid on the bowl. Do not close the lid tight. Allow it to sit on your counter for 2-5 hours. The dough will rise some and then sink or at least flatten on the top - that's just what you want. Move the bowl to the refrigerator and store it there until chilled or up to 14 days. The dough is less sticky after being chilled.

When ready to bake: (The baking process takes about an hour so plan accordingly.)Spray your loaf pan or baking sheet with vegetable spray. Break off the amount of dough you will use. Add a little flour if needed at this point to keep it from sticking to your hands. Shape into a loaf by gently stretching the dough around to the bottom and tucking in the ends. Place on your baking tray and let it sit for 20 minutes.
At this point, turn on your oven to 450° and place an empty tray or 9x13 pan (make sure it is metal - hot glass pans may shatter when you pour cold water in) on the bottom rack. Allow your oven to heat for 20 minutes. It won't be to temp yet and that is okay. Sprinkle the top of your loaf with flour and cut ¼" deep slash marks across it with a serrated knife. Place bread in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of water into the hot 9x13 pan or tray and close the oven to trap the steam.
Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on how large of a loaf you are making. The crust will be lightly browned and sound hollow when you tap it when the loaf is done.

Store any unused dough in the fridge for up to 14 days. The flavor deepens as the dough ages.

This recipe makes two good size loaves. You can freeze baked loaves after they have cooled completely. 

When ready to eat, thaw and then reheat in the microwave on the defrost setting for about 1 minute. The loaf tastes as good as new.


  1. Thanks Tammy! Really enjoyed last night and I've already told two friends about this bread. I made Adriannes muffins for breakfast...yum yum!

  2. I am curious do you really have to heat your oven for 20 minutes or is this a typo. I am excited to try this. Some friends were talking about how easy this bread is. It looks easy!

  3. You shape your loaves and wait for 20 minutes and then you do heat your oven for 20 minutes while your loaves continue to warm up. Then you bake for 25-30 minutes. It is so easy and delicious!