Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tips on Making Crusty Artisan Bread

So of late I have been making and baking this superdeliciouscalafrabrilious Crusty Artisan Bread.  I have taken loaves to several of my social gatherings. They get eaten immediately! I have brought both the Plain loaf, as well as the Cinnamon Raisin, and the Cheddar Cheese too.  People have been asking for the recipe.  Find here the link to the complete directions. I found it while browsing on This gal posted it on her blog:
She has had hundreds of comments on this delicious and super easy homemade bread.  This no-knead crusty bread recipe was first posted several years ago in an article in the NY Times by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery. I have some of my own suggestions that has resulted in consistently great loaves of this bread.  I'll share those later on in another blog post.  First, I'm posting two videos that are showing how the dough looks after it has been mixed up in a large bowl, covered, and sitting on the counter for 16-18 hours of slow rising.  At this point, my enameled cast iron pots with the lids on them (6 quart size, purchased at Kohl's and one purchased at Macy's) are heating at 450 F in the oven for 35 minutes. (DO NOT OIL the pot!).  Meanwhile right after I turn on the oven the next step is I'm turning out the dough onto generously sprinkled corn meal counter.  I have used flour spread out on the counter too, but prefer the corn meal.  The dough 'rests' while the pots are getting super HOT in that high heat oven.  OK here are two videos showing these two steps.  These two loaves are Cinnamon Raisin.  when I mixed up the 3 cups unbleached flour, 1/2 tsp SAF INSTANT bread yeast, 1 tsp salt, and the BEFORE adding the 1-1/2 cups of water, I do my additions.  In this case I added to the flour mixture, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, and a great big handful of raisins. I like to use the wonderful cinnamon's bought from Penzeys Spice . I shop Penzeys on Chagrin Blvd, east Cleveland, just off of I-277 in the Trader Joes plaza.  In these loaves shown here I used the Vietamese Cinnamon.  Great flavor. So is their China Cinnamon. One of the biggest things for consistently good loaves of this bread, ALWAYS use very fresh (unbleached!) flour and yeast. Skip the run of the mill ones like Gold Metal.  Use a high gluten flour, especially King Arthur's Bread Flour.  Can find it at most supermarkets. I use that, or my other very favorite is the "Hi-gluten Flour" bought in bulk at the Ashery, the Amish country store, not too far from me. Unbleached, or bread flour has a higher protein content.  And the yeast: only the freshest.  I have found the SAF Instant yeast at a Mennonite run bulk food store/bakery in Canal Fulton, and at the Ashery.  I have also used yeast from a jar that is labeled good for use with bread machines.  This is an instant yeast too. Hey, all you friends of mine reading this, if you need some of this SAF Instant yeast, just holler.  It comes in such a big amount, that I would be happy to give you some, because then it would get used up faster, and I will always be buying it very fresh.  I take a small amount out of the opened package, put it into a glass jar, and use that for my loaves, and the rest I put into another glass jar and put that into the freezer.  There will be 2 videos posted here. 
VIDEO I: Risen dough is going to 'rest' while the cast iron pot is heating in a 450 F oven. Here's how.

Video II  Here's how the dough is placed into the HOT! HOT! pot for baking. Bake at 450F for 30 minutes with lid. Remove lid bake another 15 minutes.  DO NOT OIL the pot.

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