I love making bread.
I come from a big bread country. FRANCE!!! I love baguette, poilane bread, brioche and all different kinds of flavored bread. I did not even know how much I loved bread until I moved to the US. The bakeries were hard to find and the processed bread on the shelves of the grocery stores where not crunchy enough for me (or should I say not at all?) so I started baking bread at home to sooth my nostalgia.
Making bread by hand was a real challenge at first. Sometimes my bread would turn out great sometimes it was a complete disaster. There would be days when the yeast would not make my bread rise. I would measure the ingredients the same way each time but the dough would turn out different. And let's talk about the time it took to actually make a good loaf of bread! I loved the kneading part of it, but I did not like the fact that I would always have to watch the clock and stay home so I could take care of my bread until I met my friend...the Bread machine.
Many years ago, I was out at a yard sale and fell upon a brand new bread machine still in its unopened box for just $5. I thought it was the best deal ever since I had seen that fabulous machine at the stores selling for over $100. I snatched it and put it to work immediately. Yummy homemade bread was on its way to my house or so I thought.
Don't get me wrong. I love my bread machine. It does so much more than just bread and I could make any kinds of breads I liked without worrying about the rising, the kneading etc... but I was still not fond of its crust so I continued to pay over $4 for fresh baked bread until I found a new way of baking bread....I call it the easy lazy way!
The Artisan Bread recipe I am going to share with you is delicious, super easy to make and leaves your house smelling like a bakery. I found this recipe on youtube a long time ago but I have seen it on pinterest too so it has been around for a while. If you are a pinner than you might have come across this recipe and may have already tried it. If not, please hang in here for a while and continue reading.
3 Cups All purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water (more or less)
large mixing bowl
enameled cast iron pot
Oven temperature 450 degrees. Cooking time 45 minutes
Let's get started....
Step 1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, salt and yeast
Step 2. Whisk all dry ingredients well.
Step 3. Add the water, mix with a spatula, cover with plastic wrap.
Note: The dough will look very sticky. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of water but I always add extra water. I do not know how much more. It varies every time. I guess I sometimes pack the flour a little too tightly. But you can see how sticky the dough looks on the picture.
Step 4. Let it rise overnight. DO NOT refrigerate!
Step 5. The next day, after the dough has risen all night, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, place your enameled cast iron pot with the lid in the oven and preheat it for 30 minutes.
As soon as your pot is in the oven, you can dump your dough on a heavily floured surface and form it into a ball. you will need to have a lot of flour in your hands as the dough will be very sticky at this point. Once you formed your ball of dough, you can reuse your plastic wrap and cover it until your pot is finished to preheat.
Step 6. At this point, place the ball of dough in the preheated pot (careful it is very very hot), cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes.
Step 7. When the oven beeps, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. The bread looks fabulous now and you can remove it carefully form the hot pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack.