Thursday, November 17, 2011

Artisan Bread

We LOVE this bread. My husband would be happy if I made this bread everyday. I would probably make it a lot more often if I could just remember to start it the night before! It does take some planning ahead.Actually I did once make it 3 times in one week and everyone was thrilled. It is that good. Seriously, truly, and not exaggerating, this is some of the best bread I have ever eaten in my life.
We first had this bread when our friend Jill brought it to a little "reunion" dinner party we were having with some friends from Graduate School. After my husband took his first bite of the bread, he leaned over to me and whispered "you have to get the recipe for this". Thanks Jill for sharing the recipe!

Artisan Bread

3 cups flour
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
olive oil
extra flour

Mix flour, yeast and salt together. Add the water, and mix by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 12 hours. ( I have let it rest up to 18 hours before, and it was just fine.)

Fold the dough once or twice, either still in the bowl, or on a work surface. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, generously (really generously) coat a cotton towel (not terrycloth) with flour (you could use cornmeal or wheat bran also, but we prefer flour). Shape the dough, and place it seam side down on the towel. Dust the top with flour, then cover it with another cotton towel (I usually just fold the corners of the towel up over the dough instead of using a separate one). Let rise for 1-2 hours, until more than doubled in size.

**You will bake this bread in some type of cast iron, glass or ceramic pot. I use my enamel coated cast iron dutch oven, which works perfect. I have also used the inside of my crock pot. This works great too. You bake this covered, so if using the inside of the crock pot, don't use the crock pot lid, just cover it with foil.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, placing the pot and lid in the oven to preheat with it. Place dough in pot, seam side up, cover and bake for 25-30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until the crust is nice and brown and crunchy.

Remove and enjoy! Best to enjoy the it day it is baked... it just isn't as good the second day.

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