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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Recipe: Basic Artisan Yeast Bread

Good bread is easy to learn to make and, with practice, homemade bread can be a healthy and affordable addition to your home kitchen. This recipe is from our Easy Bread Making workshop last month, facilitated by Scott Bernstein.

Basic Artisan Yeast Bread
(Yield: 2 large loaves)

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3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon sugar (white or brown)
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup nuts, seeds, raisins, herbs, etc. (optional)**
2 tablespoon oil
Extra flour, for dusting
Corn meal, if using baking stone

**Note: You can substitute up to 3 cups of whole wheat, rye, millet, buckwheat, etc. flour for the all-purpose white flour, as desired.

Source: The Attitude of Gratitude

  1. In a large bowl, pour in the water and then add the yeast, salt, and sugar. Mix gently, until just combined.
  2. Add flour and any add-ins (nuts, seeds, etc.) to the yeast mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon. If using an electric stand mixer, use the dough hook and mix on low speed.
  3. If mixing by hand: Continue mixing until the dough becomes too hard to mix. At this point, dust some flour on a clean counter or other surface and roll the dough out on top. Knead the dough by hand for 8 minutes.
  4. If using a stand mixer: Continue running the mixer on low speed for 5 minutes, until the dough has been well-kneaded. Dust some flour on a clean counter or other surface and roll the dough out on top. Knead the dough by hand for another 2 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, pour the oil in and roll the ball of dough in it until covered. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, with a small gap to allow air to escape.
  6. Let the dough sit for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  7. When doubled in size, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface and punch the dough down to allow the air out. Knead the dough for a minute or two.
  8. Split the dough into two equal pieces. If using a baking stone, sprinkle a baking peel or the back of a cookie sheet with corn meal, and then shape the 2 balls of dough on the peel or cookie sheet. Otherwise, put the dough into lightly greased bread pans. Let the dough rise for 40 minutes.
  9. While the dough rises, place a shallow pan on the lowest shelf and preheat your oven to 450 F. If using a baking stone, put the stone on the second to lowest shelf of the oven.
  10. Dust the top of the loaves with flour and use a sharp knife to score the tops.
  11. Boil 1 cup of water. When the water has boiled and the oven is preheated, slide the loaf pans into the oven. If using a baking stone, slide the loaves onto the stone in a quick motion, making sure there are a few inches of space between them, without being too close to the edge of the stone.
  12. Pour the water into the shallow pan. This will create steam and help to create a glossy, brown crust on your bread.
  13. After 7 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.
  14. After 20 minutes, rotate the loaves so that they bake evenly.
  15. Including steps 13 and 14 above, bake for approximately 35 minutes in total. When the bread is ready, it will be browned on the outside and sound hollow when tapped. If you use a thermometer, the bread will have an internal temperature of 200 F.
  16. Remove the bread, and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
  17. Serve fresh. If storing, let the loaves cool completely, and then seal them tightly in zip-top bags and freeze. 

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