Homemade Artisan Bread
By Ellen Fruchtman, President
3 and 1/4 cups (420g) bread flour, such as King Arthur, plus more for hands and pan
2 teaspoons instant yeast, such as Red Star
2 teaspoons coarse salt (see note)
1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) cool water (70 degrees is great)
optional: cornmeal for dusting pan
-In a large un-greased mixing bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt together. Pour in the cool water and gently mix together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will seem dry and shaggy, but keep working it until all the flour is moistened. If needed, use your hands (as I do in the video tutorial above) to work the dough ingredients together. The dough will be sticky. Shape into a ball in the bowl as best you can.
-Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and set on the counter at room temperature (honestly any normal room temperature is fine!). Allow to rise for 2-3 hours. The dough will just about double in size, stick to the sides of the bowl, and have a lot of air bubbles.
-You can continue with step 4 immediately, but for absolute best flavor and texture, I strongly recommend letting this risen dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. Place covered dough in the refrigerator for 12 hours – 3 days. I usually let it rest in the refrigerator for about 18 hours. The dough will puff up during this time but may begin to deflate after 2 days. That’s fine and normal– nothing to worry about.
-Lightly dust a large nonstick baking sheet (with or without rims) with flour and/or cornmeal. Turn the cold dough out onto a floured work surface. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut dough in half. Some air bubbles will deflate as you work with it. Place dough halves on a prepared baking sheet. Using floured hands, shape into 2 long loaves about 9×3 inches each (doesn’t have to be exact) about 3 inches apart. Loosely cover and allow to rest for 45 minutes. You will bake the dough on this prepared baking sheet. See recipe note if you want to use a pizza stone.
-During these 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C).
-When ready to bake, using a very sharp knife or bread lame (some even use kitchen shears), score (shallow cut) the bread loaves with 3 slashes, about 1/2 inch deep. If the shaped loaves flattened out during the 45 minutes, use floured hands to narrow them out along the sides again.
–Place the shaped and scored dough (on the flour/cornmeal-dusted pan) in the preheated oven on the center rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Gently tap the loaves– if they sound hollow, the bread is done.
-Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Store leftovers loosely covered at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
-If you only have fine salt, reduce to 1 ½ teaspoons
-If you want to add extra flavor to the bread, add any of the following BEFORE the water in step 1: 4 cloves minced garlic + 3 tablespoons chopped rosemary, 3 tablespoons of your favorite fresh herb, 1 cup of your favorite shredded cheese, a diced jalapeno, ¾ – 1 cup dried cranberries and/or chopped nuts, 2 teaspoons garlic powder.
Recipe courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction, Photo by Ellen Fruchtman