Bread Glorious Bread – Easy Homemade Artisan Bread
It’s been said that man (or woman) may not live by bread alone — but with artisan loaves that taste amazing and are easy to make, you might just put that to the test.
by Pamela Killeen
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With the increased interest in bread baking, in particular sourdough bread, but the lingering feeling of many that homemade bread is beyond their reach, especially if they’ve never ventured into bread baking (and then there’s the whole thing about working with a starter or yeast), no-knead bread is the method to try. Basically, all you do is stir. Okay maybe you need to shape it, but honestly, that simply means forming the dough into a ball. Then let it rest (translation, do nothing), score it (translation, make a few shallow cuts on the top), then bake it. All in all, it’s incredibly easy and ostensibly hands-off — you’ll ease right into the world of loaves, practically with your eyes closed.
To Sourdough or Not to Sourdough
Anyhow, a little background, this past holiday, while visiting friends and family back east, I was gifted a bit of sourdough starter from a friend of a friend. She lovingly put it into a sealed jar, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and popped it into a resealable plastic bag. I tucked that into my luggage and off I went. As an aside, and in full disclosure, I previously bought two different OLD starters (a 75-year-old starter and a 100-year-old starter) from Fermentation on Wheels Tara Whitsitt several years ago when she came to Des Moines and taught a fermentation class at a local community garden. Unfortunately, even though I originally hail from San Francisco and sourdough is something my family has always loved, I don’t seem to be adult enough to care for a starter — they require some attention, which is probably one of the reasons why sourdough bread is so popular right now, people are spending more time at home, and have the time to tend their starters, and because home-baked bread is so good and comforting and we can all use a bit of that these days.
I digress, the starters I bought from Tara didn’t make the last house move I made. And while I had high hopes to make sourdough as soon as I came back to town this winter, I was struck down with a bad case of the flu (not COVID-19) so tucked that baby into my fridge and it’s still there … just waiting. And then came COVID-19, and the flour shortage, and life for me during this WFH time has been very busy so I’ve been remiss in making sourdough as much as I intended to and still want to. It saddens me that I haven’t ventured into making sourdough … yet.
However, that doesn’t mean home baked bread, with an open, chewy crumb and crackled crust is, or was, going to elude me, and it doesn’t have to elude you, either. What did I do? I turned to two recipes I previously developed — No-Knead Whole-Wheat Bread and No-Knead Cinnamon-Raisin Bread. It was just what I wanted — incredibly good bread that’s incredibly easy to make.
What is No-Knead Bread?
Based on the popular Sullivan Street Bakery’s technique, No-Knead Bread is just as it sounds, bread that you don’t have to knead. Yes, yeast is required, and beyond that it’s mostly time and patience (and a cast-iron Dutch oven). It takes about 24 hours to create one boule — a round loaf. And it’s that long resting time and baking it in a Dutch oven, that produces a loaf as good as any artisan loaf you’ve likely had. Plus, once you learn “the tricks of the trade,” you can create loaves with add-ins catered to your tastes.
Equipment & Ingredients
As far as what equipment you’ll need, besides a cast-iron Dutch oven, you’ll need some parchment paper, a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (I found it helped with “shaping”), kitchen shears, and an instant-read thermometer. Of course, you’ll need flour and yeast (in the Test Kitchen, we like SAF Instant Yeast), and depending upon which loaf you choose to make (or start with) you’ll need some add-ins.
Now that you have an idea of what to do and how easy a good loaf of bread is, let me emphasize, if you’ve ever been leery of making homemade bread, the No-Knead bread method is the one to start with. Simply grab the recipes — No-Knead Whole-Wheat Bread and No-Knead Cinnamon-Raisin Bread — and this bread will practically make itself.
Equipment/Special Ingredients Needed
Want to give this technique a try?
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