Artisan Bread Recipes: The Ultimate in Simple Homemade Bread!

If you have followed with me so far, you know that we have made homemade bread for some 15 years.  And while we do buy some bread at the store, it is more often than not the specialty bread and rolls. Crusty French rolls or a tangy rye loaf can really make the difference between a plain dinner and a special treat.

Long story short, I sort of bumped into specialty baking after all these years.  I had an awe of those yummy baked goods that kept me from attempting them. I guess I figured that there are just some things you leave to the bakeries to do – as if there was a “higher level” to ascend to in baking before you could achieve such things.

Must be because I turned 50, I don’t know, but I recently just decided to learn artisan style bread baking.  And man, I was totally wrong.  Talk about simple!!  No kneading.  No honey or sugar.  No oil or other fat.  Perfect definition of SimpleFrugal bread baking!

But to show you how “chicken” I was, I had my 14-year-old daughter mix up the first batch.  To say the least, it turned out perfect to our standards. Since it was so simple (and frugal!) I decided not to wait to share the idea of “artisan-style” baking.

So, here is a recipe that I adapted from a cookbook I fell in love with – My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey.  What a fun read!!  Anyway, since we like wheat bread, here is my rendition of what I call “Off White Bread”:

Note: The original recipe calls for a 4 1/2 quart heavy covered pot or dutch oven.  I don’t have one but I do have a pizza stone.  So I “threw” the bread onto the preheated pizza stone.  The bread turns out more “flat” but still very authentic.  I’ll put a clay pot on my wish list but for now the pizza stone works great!

Off White Bread – SimpleFrugal Style

makes one 10″ round loaf

Combine the following in a medium bowl:

2 cups bread flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (freshly ground is best!)

1 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Real Salt)

1/2 teaspoon yeast, instant or active dry

Add:

1 1/3 c cool water (about 60 degrees F)

Use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix this together until it is a wet sticky dough – about 30 seconds.  Cover with damp towel and sit at room temp until the surface is speckled with burst bubbles (the dough will have more than doubled) – about 12 to 18 hours.

Once the dough has risen, generously dust your counter with flour.  With a scraper, gently pull the dough/batter onto the counter in one piece.  Gently handle the bread, tucking the edges under giving it a rounded shape. (Did I say NO kneading!)

Pick up the round loaf and place it seam side down on a pizza peel or breadboard that is floured with brad, cornmeal or flour.   If the dough seems too sticky, dust lightly with flour or bran.  Place this in a warm place to raise again approximately 1 – 2 hours or till nearly doubled.

About 30 minutes before the bread is finished rising, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with the rack in the lower third of the oven.  If you plan to use the 4 – 5-quart pot, put it in the oven now to preheat, too.  I use a pizza stone.

When the stone/pot/oven is preheated, “throw” onto the stone with the peel (or carefully drop into the pot – seam side up – and cover).  Bake 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, the bread on the stone should be done.  If you are using the pot, remove the lid and continue to bake for another 15 – 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack.  The pot baked bread will have a “burnt’ look.

I can’t say how pleased I am with this recipe.  Get his book!   Borrow it from the library but get this book. It will be one of those smart investments that can save you money many times over.

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