Cooking Lessons: Artisan Bread Loaf January 13 2013, 1 Comment

Whole Grain Artisan Bread Loaf

  image of Artisan Bread Cover Everyone has seen the beautiful artisan breads that Whole Foods and other bread bakeries are selling. I just love the sight and smell of these artisan breads. I found Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertaberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois. AB1 This book has revolutionized the way that I make bread. It has made it super super easy. No kneading required. It saves the hands and the shoulders!! Mine are saying a big thank you. It doesn’t require much hands on. And the results are amazing. I know that bakeries charge $4 to $6 a loaf. Believe me this bread is made for less than $1 a loaf. Incredible!! So let’s get started.

The Master Recipe

  • 5 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons granulated yeast or 2 packages yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
  • 4 cups lukewarm water
  • Seed mixture (I used a mixture of sunflower, flax, sesame, and poppy seed. I roughly used 1 to 2 teaspoons each)
First measure all the dry ingredients into a large container. I actually purchased a dough-rising bucket through King Arthur Flour. It is the perfect size. Whisk all the dry ingredients together.

image of artisan bread dry ingredients Next add lukewarm water to the dry ingredients. (Lukewarm water will feel slightly warmer than body temperature.) Mix everything together till there are no dry patches. Do not knead, just stir.

image of bread wet mixture

Cover the dough with a lid, make sure it isn’t an airtight lid. If you are using a bowl, it can be covered with plastic wrap. With my dough-rising bucket, I leave the top cracked to prevent build up of the gases from the proofing yeast. Allow your dough mixture to rise for two hours at room temperature.

image of bread room temperature rise

After the two hour rise you will notice that the top of the dough slightly flattens. It is now ready to go into the refrigerator. I prefer to work with refrigerated dough because it is much easier to handle. You can refrigerate for 3 hours or use within 14 days.

image of bread refrigerator rise

On the baking day prepare a pizza peel with cornmeal, be very generous with the cornmeal. This will prevent the bread from sticking. If you don’t have a pizza peel you can use parchment paper with a little cornmeal.

image of cornmeal pizza peel

Sprinkle a little flour on the top of your refrigerated dough and cut a grapefruit size portion (roughly 1 pound) with a serrated knife. Lightly flour your hands so that the dough does not stick to them. Gently stretch the dough around the bottom of your dough. Do this several times. Gently form a narrow oval shaped loaf and put on your pizza peel.

image of cornmeal pizza peel bread rise

Now we let the loaf rest for about 90 minutes. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. I always cover with a towel also. (I know I am still using my Christmas towels.) During this time it won’t rise much, but will spread a little.

image of bread rise under cover towel

When there is 30 minutes left on the rising, place a baking stone on the middle rack. Then place a metal rimmed baking pan on the bottom rack. Next preheat the oven 450 degrees. Just before the bread is ready to bake, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water. Sprinkle the seed mixture on top of the loaf. Next make slashes with ¼ inch deep parallel cuts with a serrated bread knife. Your bread is now ready to bake. If you are using a pizza baking peel you need to go a quick forward jerking motion to get your bread to slide onto the baking stone. If you just using parchment and you have no baking stone not to worry, just use a baking pan in place of the stone and place your bread and parchment onto the baking pan. (If you are using this method, after 20 minutes remove the parchment paper.) Now quickly pour 1 cup of hot water into the baking pan you have on the bottom shelf. Close the oven door to trap the steam.

image of bread after rising

Bake the bread for 30 minutes or until the crust is richly browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

image of bread after baking

When cooled bread can be sliced and enjoyed with your favorite butter or spread.

image of bread cooling on board

I loved this bread!!! It has the taste and crumb of the expensive breads I have purchased at Whole Foods and other bakeries. It is super super easy and it is worth your time to try it.