Jun 26, 2012
EASY Artisan Bread...you will FREAK OUT
(This post has been updated as of 6.26.12) Ok ok ok, when I say EASY I mean EASY. I thought in order to get this kind of oober crusty bread with a spongy, holey, soft middle required hours and hours of love and weird things like spraying water into your oven, etc., or having your own personal wood fired oven. Yeah, right.
In fact, I was so blown away by this recipe that I hesitated to share it with all of you bc it will ruin my culinary prowess of being able to surprise the socks off of people when they try it. But of course I cannot keep all of this fabulousness to myself! SO, now you, too, can freak people out with how awesome this bread is!!!!!! My only warning to you is that you have to think ahead for this one--I like to mix it up the night before I want to actually eat it--either that, or you'll have to get up really early in the morning so it's ready in time for dinner!
3 c. flour (i used half all purpose, half bread flour, not sure it matters?)
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
Let yeast and salt dissolve into warm water. Then add flour. Mix by hand (don't waste your time getting out the mixer--you won't need it). If you are used to making bread, you will be very worried at how "loose," wet, and sticky the dough is when you're done adding flour. That's Ok. It's supposed to be like that! Cover the bowl you mixed it in with plastic wrap (no mess to clean up!) and let it sit out at room temperature for at least 8 to 10 hours. I left mine on the counter from about 8pm until 5pm the next day and it was just fine.
When the time is up, you'll need to find a large oven-proof pan that has a lid. I used a cheap turkey roaster. Preheat oven AND pan to 475 degrees.
Then put a LOT of flour on your counter. Plop your dough out into the flour (mine was so "loose" that I had to scoop it out with a spoon!) and COAT it with flour and shape into a "baguette" (long and relatively skinny loaf).
Take hot pan out of the oven. Carefully and quickly pick up your shaped "loaf" and place it into the pan (my "loaf" ran the entire length of the turkey roasting pan). You don't need to grease the pan bc the dough will be coated with plenty of flour that will keep in from sticking. Bake for around 20-30 minutes with the lid ON. Then remove lid and bake another 5 to 10 minutes until browned. Cool on wire rack so heat can escape and keep the bread crusty. YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS! FYI: I used this bread with my spinach and artichoke dip. Just recently, I used this bread for bruschetta! I think this would be sooo good for sooo many things! I can't wait to make this again! This recipe makes ONE good-sized baguette (not two, like pictured above).
*NOTE* This bread was best when eaten the same day it was made (especially hot!). I used some for the next day that I had wrapped in cling wrap. It was still good, but the crust became very soft and lost its crunch. If you want your crust to stay crunchy, don't wrap the loaf after it cools off!