Adapted from The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Makes 2 – 1 ¾ lb cooked bread loaves
See “How to Get Started” tab for Supply and Ingredient list
- Wash your hands while singing “Happy Birthday” twice. 😉
- In a large bowl or KitchenAid mixer with paddle attachment, add 3 cups of lukewarm water (you can’t feel the water on the back of your wrist – not more than 100°).
- Add 1.5 Tbsp kosher salt (1 Tbsp + 1 ½ tsp).
- Add 1 Tbsp. of yeast
- Add 6 ½ cups of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Just scoop and level off the flour with a straight edge. Don’t pack it down.
- Mix until all ingredients are well mixed, scraping the sides of the bowl. It will be sticky. Resist the urge to add more flour. If you’re mixing by hand in a bowl and it gets too hard to mix, use very wet hands to mix it together at the end.
- If using a bowl, loosely cover with plastic wrap. If using a mixer, scrape into a large plastic tub with snap-on top. Snap 2 of the 4 sides down to let the dough expand.
- Let sit for 2-5 hours.
- You can cut the dough in half and start forming it now (a serrated knife works well) or wait until it’s been chilled. It’s much easier to handle when chilled a few hours and even better chilled overnight.
- If you are only making one loaf, put the other half in the refrigerator and make within 14 days.
- Dust your clean hands with flour. Add a bit more flour along the top of the dough and pick up half of the dough. Gently stretch the surface of the dough from the top to the bottom and tuck under. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat 3 more times. This smooths out the surface of the dough and is called “cloaking” the dough. Don’t knead it. It’s ok that the bottom isn’t smooth. It will smooth out when it baked.
- Prepare a 1.5 lb. loaf pan by spraying a non-stick spray on all sides. I prefer canola oil spray. Drop the dough into the loaf pan. Let it sit for at least 40 minutes or, even better, until the dough fills the sides of the pan and rises to the top. This makes for an airier loaf. It doesn’t need to be covered.
- Half an hour before you’re ready to cook the bread, turn your oven to 450° and place a metal pan on a lower shelf to preheat.
- Just before sliding the dough in the oven, sprinkle a bit of flour on the dough and with a sharp knife (I actually use a razor lame now – see supply list) make some ½” slices in the top to give the bread room to expand without randomly cracking. Have fun making your signature slices!
- Slide the loaf into the middle of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water in the bottom pan for steam and set the timer to 30 minutes.
- Take the bread out when the top looks golden brown or the temperature in the middle of the bread is 190°. I highly recommend an instant read thermometer!
- Flip it onto a cooling rack and flip it back over to cool. Don’t leave it in the pan as the bread will get soft and soggy.
- Since you’re making this for other people, you don’t need to worry about cutting into it and slathering butter on it before it’s cooled (at least a half hour)! If you happen to have an extra loaf, try to resist cutting into it before it’s cooled, as it will stay fresher and it’s easier to cut. Unless of course you’re finishing it with friends and family in one sitting!