The book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day completely changed my bread life. We rarely buy bread anymore, because this method makes it so quick and easy. No knead bread has been all the rage for some time, but it still has some timing requirements (let rise for 20 hours…). The great thing about this dough is that after letting it rise for a couple of hours, it goes into the refrigerator and lasts up to two weeks. When we want bread, I just take off a chunk, let it rise for half an hour and then bake it. Easy to do even at the end of a long day.
I’ve been fooling around with the different recipes in this book and in Zoe & Jeff’s second book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. My goal was to find a nice, hearty bread that wasn’t too heavy or wheat-y (Larry’s primary complaint with some of the whole wheat breads I tried). I kept going back to my original favorite dough, the European Peasant Bread, but made one simple swap out with some of the all-purpose flour.
The other change I made was to bake the bread in a little enameled cast iron pot. I’ve got a Le Creuset 2-quart French Oven that works perfectly (I changed the handle over to a metal one so it can handle the high oven temp). You can use a larger pot for larger loaves of bread. The recipe for the bread, including the modifications, follows. For some great photos on this method, check out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
- European Peasant Bread (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, p. 46)
European Peasant Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups (271 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups (255 g) white wheat flour
Mix the yeast, salt and water in a 5-quart food-safe plastic container. Add the rye, whole wheat and all-purpose flours and mix with a wooden spoon.
Lightly cover the dough and rest it at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, about 2 hours. Refrigerate the dough and use over the next 14 days. You can use the dough immediately but itâ€™s easier to work with when cold. And the flavor and texture will improve over time.
When ready to bake, preheat the pot with the lid on to 500Â°F for about 20 minutes. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound piece (or whatever size you’d like – I usually make three loaves out of one batch of dough). Dust with more flour and shape it into a ball by stretching the outer layers to the bottom, rotating the dough until smooth on all sides. Rest the dough on a piece of parchment for 30 minutes. The dough is forgiving so if it rises longer, it’s not a big deal. Let larger loaves rise longer.
Sprinkle the dough with flour and use a serrated knife to cut 1/4″ slits or â€œscallopsâ€ across the top. Very carefully lift the dough and drop it, with paper and all into the preheated pot. Replace the lid.
After 15 minutes of baking remove the lid. The dough only needs to bake in the steam for that amount of time. now it is time to get a lovely caramel color to the bread. Turn the heat down to 450Â°F and bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf. If you’re unsure about baking time, use an instant-read thermometer stuck into to middle of the loaf – it should read 200 degrees.
Once the loaf is nicely browned, carefully remove it from the pot with a spatula. Peel off the parchment and allow to cool on a cooling rack.