It’s the dead of winter here in Minnesota, and everyone I know is baking again–so it’s time to review the basic recipe from my BreadIn5 books. Back when the cookbooks first came out (2007!), authors didn’t generally put their most important recipe out on a website for free.
I took a different approach.
You can really teach people a new method, and communicate with them in near real-time (about problems they’re having with recipes). That means using this technology to let people sample the method, and comment back. So this is one of my sites most popular posts, and it contains the most important method that really made these books a success–the stored-dough recipe for a round European-style loaf, that tastes better the longer you let the dough age in the fridge (to a point–up to 14 days with this dough, in this post!). Here’s the recipe, from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
For the Master Recipe…
As you bake through this basic Master recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day you should be able to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. The goal is to create a large batch of dough that stores in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. That’s why the method saves you so much time– all the mixing and prep is divided over four one-pound loaves (a little less to be exact, about 0.9 pounds).
3 cups (1 1/2 pounds/680 grams) lukewarm water (you can use cold water, but it will take the dough longer to rise. Just don’t use hot water or you may kill the yeast)
1 tablespoon granulated yeast ( you can use any kind of yeast including products labeled as instant, “quick,” rapid rise, bread machine, active dry, or even fresh cake yeast (which isn’t granulated)*. You can also decrease the amount of yeast in the recipe by following the directions here. Or you can bake with a sour dough starter, see instructions here.)
*If you use cake yeast you will need 1.3 ounces (37g).
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons Morton Kosher Salt (adjust to suit your taste or eliminate it all together. Find more information here)
6 1/2 cups (2 pounds/910 grams) all-purpose flour (the recipe’s tested with typical supermarket flour. If you use a higher protein flour check here)
Mixing the dough:
In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded dough bucket (the lid is sold separately), dump in the water, and add the yeast and salt.
Because we are mixing in the flour so quickly it doesn’t matter that the salt and yeast are thrown in together.
Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a long handled wooden spoon or a Danish Dough Whisk which is one of the tools that makes the job so much easier!
Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, as you can see it will be a wet rough dough.
Put the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut. You want the gases from the yeast to escape (you can put a little hole in the top of the lid so that you can close the lid and still allow the gases to get out. It doesn’t take much of a hole…
Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise (it may take longer). When you first mix the dough it will not occupy much of the container.
But, after the initial 2 hour rise it will pretty much fill it. (If you have decreased the yeast you will have to let it go longer than 2 hours.) DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! Just let it settle by itself.
The dough will be flat on the top and some of the bubbles may even appear to be popping. (If you intend to refrigerate the dough after this stage it can be placed in the refrigerator even if the dough is not perfectly flat. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator.) The dough can be used right after the initial 2 hour rise, but it is much easier to handle when it is chilled. It is intended for refrigeration and use over the next two weeks, ready for you anytime. For the first two days of storage, be sure to leave the lid open a crack, to allow gasses to escape. After that, you can usually snap down the lid on plastic contains without problems, because they’re usually not entirely airtight. BUT, DON’T SEAL GLASS CONTAINERS OR THEY MIGHT SHATTER. The flavor will deepen over that time, developing sourdough characteristics.
If the dough develops a hard crust, you can usually fold that into the next loaf, but it may create a hard area in the crumb. If you want to prevent this, scrape off the crust before using. Transfer the dough into smaller containers as you deplete it to prevent the crust from forming, and close the non-airtight container after two days.
The next day when you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you will notice that it has collapsed and this is totally normal for our dough. It will never rise up again in the container.
Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.
You should notice that the dough has a lot of stretch once it has rested. (If your dough breaks off instead of stretching like this your dough is probably too dry and you can just add a few tablespoons of water and let it sit again until the dough absorbs the additional water.)
Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears* and form it into a ball. This video shows the technique for shaping this very wet dough.
Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper… (or rest it on a generous layer of corn meal on top of a pizza peel.)
*Sewing Shears can be nice because of the long blade. I just dedicated a pair to the kitchen.
Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes, (although letting it go 60 or even 90 minutes will give you a more open hole structure in the interior of the loaf. This may also improve the look of your loaf and prevent it from splitting on the bottom.) You will notice that the loaf does not rise much during this rest, in fact it may just spread sideways, this is normal for our dough.
You can also try our “refrigerator rise trick,” shaping the loaves and then immediately refrigerating them overnight. By morning, they’ll have risen and are ready for the oven after a brief room-temp rest while the oven preheats (click for instructions).
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. with a Baking Stone* on the center rack, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom (never use a glass vessel for this or it will shatter), which will be used to produce steam. (The tray needs to be at least 4 or 5 inches away from your stone to prevent it from cracking.)
*(or Cast Iron Pizza Pan– which will never crack and conducts heat really well. Be careful to dry it after rinsing with water or it will rust)
Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch deep slashes using a serrated bread knife. (If your slashes are too shallow you will end up with an oddly shaped loaf and also prevent it from splitting on the bottom.) If your dough is collapsing when you make the slashes, it may be that the dough has overproofed or your knife it dull and dragging the dough too much.
Slide the loaf into the oven onto a preheated stone (the one pictured below is cast iron) and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color. As the bread bakes you should notice a nice oven spring in the dough. This is where the dough rises. To insure that you get the best results it is crucial to have an Oven Thermometer to make sure your oven is accurate.
If you used parchment paper you will want to remove it after about 20-25 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Continue baking the loaf directly on the stone for the last 5-10 minutes.
Allow the loaf to cool on a rack until it is room temperature. If you cut into a loaf before it is cooled you will have a tough crust and a gummy interior. It is hard to wait, but you will be happy you did! Make sure you have a sharp serrated bread knife that will not crush the bread as you cut.
If you have any leftover bread just let it sit, uncovered on the cutting board or counter with the cut side down. If you cover a bread that has a crust it will get soggy.
Enjoy, have fun baking, and check out the FAQs page if you’re having trouble getting the bread to turn out the way you’d like.
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