Buying fresh French baguettes and loafs on a daily basis was customary. The bakeries, mostly controlled by Portuguese bread makers, where always walking distances from home. The one in charge of buying the daily bread, was also entitled to start eating, on his or her way home, a piece of the most delicious crusty piece of warm bread.
All my ‘suffering’ ended when I discovered La Brea Bakery. They bake artisan bread in the shape of baguettes, sour dough loafs, plus rosemary and garlic and whatever Mediterranean flavors you can imagine. We used to buy it fresh and warm from Costco, or, baked the day before, at our local grocery… the quality is extraordinary.
A few days ago, I found The Italian Dish and I must confess, this was another turning point. Elaine, the author, doesn’t know yet, she’s my twin cooking soul. Digging and diving into her blog, I found this post to make artisan bread. I haven’t stopped baking it since.
It requires time and planning ahead, but the process is effortless and mess free. The bread is comparable to the best artisan bread you can get in French boulangeries or in those Italian bakeries in San Francisco. Trust me, this is the real stuff, and the aroma it brings to your home, is only another excuse to keep baking.
This bread is good to be eaten fresh, toasted, and is ideal for making bruschettas and croutons.
Artisan Bread | Ingredients for 4 loafs 1 pound each
3 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ Tbs. granulated yeast (fast acting)
1 ¼ Tbs. coarse sea salt
6 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
Add the water, the yeast and the salt to the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Add the flour and mix with the dough mixing blade, until a wet loose dough in formed. Put the dough in a bowl, big enough, so the dough can rise (it will almost triple in size.) Cover it with plastic film, leaving a little hole so the dough can “breath” and the gases escape. Set aside for 2 hours at room temperature. If you don’t plan to bake it, save it covered, not airtight, in the refrigerator. This dough will last up to weeks.
In the oven, preheat a pizza stone at 450F, in the middle rack, for at least 30 minutes. In the mean time, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle some flour in your hands to avoid sticking. Take some of the dough and shape your loaf. Place it in the baking sheet and let it rise for about 30 minutes.
Dust the loaf with some flour and slash the top with a knife. The slashes can be parallel, cross or tic-tac toe pattern. Place the loaf in the hot pizza stone and immediately place the baking sheet in the lower rack of the oven. Carefully pour 1 cup of water in the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Take the loaves out of the oven and let them cool down on a wire rack.
To print the recipe click here.0