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Artisan White Bread Recipe & Video

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This Bread has a lovely golden brown crust that's wonderfully crisp. Yet inside it is soft and tender. I like it with a slathering of butter or sometimes I like to dip it in a good olive oil or pesto. It also makes delicious sandwiches and really good toast

 

Artisan Bread doesn't need a special pan, and it is made with the most basic of ingredients - flour, yeast, salt, water, and malt powder. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh your ingredients as it is the most accurate way to measure. A few notes on ingredients. First, the flour. For this recipe I use bread flour. Bread flour has a higher percentage of protein than All Purpose Flour, which results in a bread with a wonderfully chewy texture. For the yeast, I like to use SAF Red Instant Yeast #ad . This type of yeast gives a good rise, and since the grain particles are so small, it doesn't need to be proofed. However, you can use an equal amount of active dry yeast instead of the instant yeast but you need to activate the yeast first in warm water. To do this, remove about 1/4 cup (60 grams) water from the total amount called for in the recipe and heat it to lukewarm. Stir in the yeast. Let stand about 5-10 minutes or until the mixture becomes frothy. We also add some dry malt (diastatic) powder #ad which breaks down the starch and gives sugar for the yeast to feed on. Malt powder also aids in browning. However, you can leave it out. For the salt, I like to use kosher salt. And lastly, we need water. I like to use filtered cold, from the refrigerator, water. The temperature of the water is very important when making bread as it determines the temperature of the finished dough, which affects the rate of fermentation (proofing).

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Artisan White Bread: Place the flour, yeast, malt powder, and salt, into the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Stir until combined. Add the water, and knead the dough on 1st speed for five minutes. Increase your mixer speed to 2nd speed and continue to knead the dough for about 8 minutes or until the dough cleans the bowl and is smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky. To check to see if the dough is fully kneaded, use the 'windowpane' test. (See video for demonstration.) To do this, start with a small fistful of dough. Gently stretch it. For a fully kneaded dough you should be able to stretch the dough quite thin, without it tearing. If the dough tears easily, knead it for a minute or two longer. 

Place your dough in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled. Turn the dough once so the top of the dough has a light coating of oil (this prevents a crust from forming on the top of the dough). Cover with plastic wrap and let proof (ferment) at room temperature (about 75 degree F) (24 degree C) for 30 minutes.

Next, turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. You want the top of the dough to now be on the bottom. Divide the dough into two equal sized pieces (about 490 grams each). When you divide the dough use a pastry scraper or knife and cut, don't pull or stretch, the dough.

Take one piece of the dough and, on a lightly floured surface, flatten into a round, breaking any large air bubbles. (You may want to lightly flour your hands.) Take the edges of the dough and fold them into the center and gently seal. Then flip your dough over so the smooth side is facing up. With the palms of your hands rotate the ball of dough on your surface to create surface tension and to seal the edges of the dough completely. Place, seam side down, onto a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat this process with the other piece of dough. Then cover with plastic wrap and let proof (ferment) for about 30 minutes at room temperature.

Place the dough (top side down) onto a lightly floured surface. Gently pat the dough into a 6 x 4 inch (15 x 10 cm) rectangle, breaking any large air bubbles. Have the long side of the rectangle closest to you. Take the right side of the dough and fold it over just past the center. Seal. Fold the left side of the dough over the center and seal. (See video for demonstration.) Then take the top of the dough and fold over one third. Seal. Lastly, take the top of the dough and fold over to the bottom edge. Seal. Then flip your dough over so the smooth side is facing up. With the palms of your hands roll the dough until it is just under 7 inches (18 cm) long. Place (seam side up) on a floured cloth (preferably linen), separating the two breads by a wrinkle in the cloth. Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly oiled or sprayed with a non stick vegetable spray, and let proof (ferment) for about 90 minutes at room temperature (the bread should be plump and when you gently press your finger into the dough it should leave an indentation).

At least one hour before baking your bread, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C). Have your oven rack in the bottom third of your oven. Place a pizza stone on the oven rack. Also, place a cast iron frying pan on the floor of your oven (we will be placing ice cubes in the frying pan to create steam).

Have ready a pizza paddle that has been heavily sprinkled with fine cornmeal or semolina. Gently transfer the bread to the pizza paddle, placing them seam side down. If desired, lightly brush the tops of the breads with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Then with a razor or sharp knife, score the top of each bread lengthwise down the center (see video for demonstration). Transfer the bread onto the hot pizza stone, spacing several inches apart. Quickly place about 6 to 8 ice cubes into the hot cast iron frying pan (this creates steam). Bake the bread for about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. The longer you bake the bread the more crisp the outside crust. (If you tap the bottom of the bread it will sound hollow.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 - 7 inch (18 cm) Loaves of Bread.

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Artisan White Bread:

4 1/2 cups (585 grams) unbleached Bread Flour

2 teaspoons (6 grams) SAF Red Instant Yeast (Available on Amazon #ad)

1 teaspoon (3 grams) dry malt (diastatic) powder (Available on Amazon #ad)

2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) kosher salt

1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (380 grams) cold filtered water

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