A bit of a spoiler putting this gorgeous round loaf at the front of the post, but seeing is believing.
My BFF Padi is becoming famous for her mastery of the 5 minute no-knead artisan bread loaf. I particularly fancy her baguettes. We had a little telepathic love moment yesterday when she whipped up a batch of vegan cranberry shortbread bars whilst I (yes, she’s British) got hot and steamy over some easier than your mama (okay, that was just wrong) artisan bread.
Let’s take a look at what I did. First step, mix your dough! It is best to mix the dough *at least* 12 hours before you plan to bake. However, as I find with pizza crust, the longer you let the scant amount of yeast in your dough ferment, the more flavorful and chewier your finished product will be.
Here is the recipe I used for the bread. Yes, the flour is white.
Easy Artisan Bread
5 cups bread flour/hi-gluten flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups room-temperature water
*This makes a very wet dough that is difficult to work with! Keep some extra flour on hand for mixing in so that your hands don’t turn into an abominable dough monster. If you have a stand mixer, use that to mix it up real good. If not, incorporate the ingredients all together with your paws.
*Put the dough in a floured bowl and cover. Set to rise in a warm room for about an hour. Make sure dough is well wrapped (you can put in a plastic container or cover a bowl with saran). Stick in fridge over nite or for a few days.
*On day you are set to bake, remove from fridge and allow to rise in a warm room for a few hours.
*Everything else you need to know is below the next pic.
Inside the Oven: I preheated the oven on broil with a soapstone tile that I use as a pizza stone and my dutch oven on the bottom rack. After an hour of preheating, I placed the bread dough I had rising on a sheet of parchment inside the dutch oven (parchment included). I then sprayed the top of the bread with Braggs Liquid Aminos and sprinkled sesame seeds on top. Then I carefully pulled up a corner of the parchment and dumped about a half cup of water into the cooker. Steam shot up and I carefully replaced the lid, transferring the cooker back to the oven. Reducing the heat to 475 degrees and turning on my convection for optimal air circulation, I returned in 35-40 minutes to remove the cooker from the oven.
I was happily shocked when I removed the lid (carefully since I am an idiot prone to burns, forgetting that things are skin-threateningly hot). The loaf was beautiful!
The outer crust was rough and flaky. The taste of the Braggs was not at all distinguishable yet I know the spritzing did the bread good.
But what about the inside? I was in love when I cut into this bread. Gainesville bakeries, eat your doughy hearts out!
On a bread high, I decided to give homemade mozzarella a try. It wasn't until I put the milk up that I remembered that my candy thermometer broke. Can anyone recommend one that is not total crap? Anyway, feeling confident I went ahead, hoping I could feel out the required temps needed for cheese making. Talk about hoping against hope. I guess I brought the milk to 90 too quickly, or warmed it past 90. It started to curdle (had citric acid in it). I added the vegetable rennet and carried on. The curd firmed up, but was not firm enough. Something was wrong and Stacia wasn't here to council me through it! The whey was not clear enough, that I know. But was I doomed from my initial heat up? I aborted the mission, undertaken with too much bravado and whimsy, and simply hung my curds in a cheese cloth (cloth diaper, actually), cutting my losses. I squeezed out the way, brayed the curds, kneading in salt and dried Italian herbs, rolled into a log and sliced. Unfortunately, the resulting cheese was too good and I ate a huge sandwich of the stuff--the delicious bread, creamy cheese and utterly flavorless roma tomatoes--despite having no real fire of hunger. Ahhhh, it was good.
Within a few hours, most of the bread was eaten by my kids and I. By the time my husband got home from work, all that was left was a tiny wedge. No worries. It's so easy to make. Tomorrow I will mix a few batches of dough. Some to bake, some to freeze. Just a few weeks left until our 6 pound bun comes out of the oven!