So the first time I tried making bread, I was pretty happy with it. But it came out a little flat and a little too crunchy on the bottom. So when my friend Jen recommended a different recipe (her husband baked a phenomenal loaf for my last birthday), I had to try it.
It turns out the recipe had also run in Mother Earth News. The story, recipe, and lots of good tips can all be found here.
Even though you can make this in one day, and you don’t have to knead/punch down the dough, it’s still a pretty big operation to make one tiny loaf. The good news is that you’re actually making enough dough for four loaves, and you can refrigerate or freeze the extra loaves to bake another time.
Basically you mix the yeast with warm water and then slowly add in the flour. I used the Kitchen Aid mixer instead of elbow grease and it worked great.
Then you let it rise for two hours, at which point it becomes gigantic!
Then you move the dough to the fridge, which makes it less sticky and easier to handle in a few hours.
At that point you divide it into four loaves, and shape one of them into a ball. As long as you flour your board and your hands you shouldn’t have any trouble handling it, which is nice.
You let it rise again for 40 minutes while you preheat your oven to 450. When you actually put the loaf in (use a pizza peel to slide it onto a baking stone – much easier than I thought it would be), you also put in a broiler pan or just a regular baking pan with some water in it, so that your oven becomes a steamy environment.
When your cute little loaf comes out, you can hear it crackling inside. The article calls this ‘singing.’ Love it.
Anyway, I was much happier with this recipe. The top was crunchy and blistered just like the loaves you see at bakeries and the bottom was solid but not too hard to cut through. Mike ate a warm slice with just a little butter smeared on top, and I turned my into dessert bread with a little Nutella.
I think if you’re ready to try baking artisan bread from scratch, this is the method to go with.