Just a few ingredients and a tad bit of patience is all it takes to make this beautiful, crispy, Artisan Bread!
There's just something SO satisfying about eating homemade bread. And what's even better is that smell of freshly baked bread in your kitchen.
When making any kind of bread, patience is key. Allowing the bred to rise properly and letting the yeast do it's magic is what determines a good bread from a bad.
Speaking of yeast, you need to make sure the yeast you use is still "alive". Otherwise, no amount of patience is going to give you a good bread.
To check your yeast - do this simple test! Add 2 1/4 tsp yeast and 1 tsp sugar to a 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Mix and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes. The mixture should begin to bubble at the top and foam. If you're seeing this, congratulations - your yeast is alive and well!
One more thing to pay attention to during bread baking is how hot your water is. In the recipe below, I call for lukewarm water aka 100 ° F. If your water is hotter than this, it will kill the yeast. If it's colder than this, it won't activate the yeast.
Okay so, now that we have all that out of the way, I think we're ready to start baking!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour (+ 2.5 hour rise time)
Serves: 1 Loaf
1 1/2 cup lukewarm water (100 ° F)
1/2 tbsp quick rise yeast
3/4 tbsp salt
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tbsp oil
In a large bowl, mix lukewarm water and yeast and set aside for 2 minutes. Then stir in the salt.
Sift and add the flour to the yeast mixture all at once. Then use a hand/standing mixture with a dough hook attachment (or a wooden spoon, if that's what you have) and mix in the flour. Continue to mix until no further flour pockets remain and you have a smooth, evenly wet ball.
While holding the dough on one hand, pour 3/4 tbsp oil to the bottom of the same bowl and spread it around. Place the dough back in the bowl and toss it around until all sides are coated in oil. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and let rise for 2.5 hours in a slightly warm environment (To create a warm environment, preheat the oven to 175 ° F. Once preheated, turn the oven off and place the bowl inside, with the oven door slightly open)
Prepare a large baking tray with (lightly floured) parchment paper. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on the parchment paper and using floured hands, start shaping the dough to an oval loaf shape.
Note: Make sure the additional flour on your hands stays on the exterior of the dough to help you shape and does not get incorporated into the dough.
Set aside the shaped dough uncovered at room temperature for 40 minutes to rise further (you may not notice a huge rise and that's normal). During this time, preheat oven to 450 ° F. And boil about 1 cup of water in a kettle - you'll see why, in the next step.
Once the oven is preheated, pour the boiled water to second baking tray and place in the lower rack of the oven. Then, quickly place the dough on the rack right above it and close the oven door. Let the bread bake for 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
And here's why we add boiled water/steam -- this bread is going to continue to rise inside the oven as the gasses trapped inside expand. And in the first several minutes, the rise is pretty rapid. And it's the steam that helps keep the crust soft during this time, allowing the bread to continue expanding freely.
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