Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Artisan Bread Part 2

As promised here is the part where you can bake your bread. If you missed part 1, then READ IT HERE.

Get your dough out of the fridge and also get a piece of parchment paper out to bake your bread on. If you don't have parchment paper, don't sweat it. You will need to flour whatever pan or stone you wish to bake the bread on. Then when you go to the store get some parchment paper! It makes baking tons easier!

Now get a little flour and sprinkle it on top of the dough.
Now reach into the dough with your hand and grab about a grapefruit sized portion of dough.
Now fold the sides down and around to make a smooth ball with the seams at the bottom. This should only take seconds....don't obsess over it:-)
Okay, you are ready to place the dough on the paper or baking sheet and let it rest about an hour. Also, preheat your oven to 450. Yep, 450!

If you feel impatient or very, very hungry you can let it rest only 45 minutes:-)

Now that it has rested you can make three slits into the dough with a serrated knife. Be quick and firm...don't hesitate!

Now, let's discuss the oven. I use an oven stone. It's a stone that I keep on my rack to bake bread on. I bake everyday so it's useful. Before I had an "official" oven stone I kept a rectangular stone in my oven that I bought years ago from The Pampered Chef. You do not have to use a stone. You can bake this bread on a baking sheet or on a stone. The stone lends a more artisan look and texture. Here is my set up.
I have my stone and also have a broiler pan on the rack underneath. Water can be poured into the broiler pan just as the dough is placed on the stone. This creates steam which in turn creates a very hard crust. This crust on the bread will be hard even without the use what you have and it will be perfect!
 Place your slit dough loaves into the oven. (I always make 2 loaves for my crew at lunch time)
If you are using steam, then pour about a cup of water into the broiler pan just before closing the oven door.

Allow the bread to bake 30-40 minutes. It will smell yummy and will turn a nice golden brown. Do not worry too much about drying this bread out by overcooking. Remember that you started with a wet dough and it is pretty forgiving.

When it's done take it out and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
It's difficult to slice if it is hot, so at least restrain yourself a bit and allow it to get to the warm stage. I speak from experience! As with all homemade breads I recommend you slice it with an electric knife, but any serrated knife will do. Enjoy!!

Let me know how hooked you become:-)

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