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Artisanal Bread

Is there anything better than a fresh loaf of bread? Here is an easy loaf you can make with four ingredients, that is nearly impossible to ruin, and has a fantastic texture and crust.

I'm a kitchen scale gal. If you don't have a scale, I highly recommend you get one. Each set of measuring cups is slightly different. When it comes to chemistry, I don't want to leave anything to chance. So, when I'm creating recipes, I always use weight. Even when chemistry isn't involved, honestly - if I'm creating a recipe I always use weight. I'm a throw it in there chef, so it's easier for me to throw it in and weigh the difference. OK, enough about scales. Bottom line - if you don't have one - get one. I'm not paid to say this. :)

If you want to experiment specialty flours, you should. This recipe (ratio) is 700g of flour to 500g of water.

I used 700g of Sir Galahad, 500g of warm water, 10 grams yeast and 10 g salt. This is a fairly high moisture content - but will still give you a small crumb. If you want the big, airy bread - stay tuned for either my sourdough or ciabatta recipe.

After I've weighed all the ingredients I combine 500g of flour, the water, yeast and salt. I mix this in the kitchen aid with the dough attachment on low/medium until it comes together, scraping the sides as needed. Then I slowly add the additional 200 g of flour. (If you want to add items to your bread, now is the time. A favorite of mine is minced olives, minced garlic, and finely chopped rosemary. Just make sure the olives have been drained well, you don't want the extra brine.)

Once it is fully incorporated I set my timer for 10 minutes and turn it to med/high. The dough will form a ball and it will slap the bowl - this is kneading the bread for you. You could do this by hand - if you have biceps of a champ and 30 minutes of extra time on your hands. I stand near and place a hand on it so it doesn't fly off of my counter. Which is good for my floor, my mixer and my dough... or so I imagine.

Once the timer goes off, lightly grease a bowl and get your hands wet. This dough is sticky. Using your damp hands and or a dough scraper, place your dough into the greased bowl. Turn it once so both sides get a light coating of oil. This dough will double in about 30-45 minutes.

Once your dough has doubled, crank your oven to 430f/220c with forced air if you have it. When it is ready shaped loaves as desired. You can make rolls, bread bowls, two baguette or boule shaped loaves. It's really up to you. I will say it is too big for 1 loaf. The only rule here is to handle it as little as possible.

Let your bread rest for 15 minutes while your oven continues to get super hot. Place your bread into the oven and let bake f0r 20-30 minutes depending on shape. If you'd like a bread that rises up, make a small slice in the top before baking. Otherwise it will likely spread a bit, but that's okay, too! The goal is a golden loaf of bread that feels crisp on the outside and sounds hollow when you knock on it.

Here is the last step - and likely the most difficult. Let the bread cool on a rack until it is no longer hot to the touch. Slightly warm is ok. But HOT isn't. If you cut it while it's hot it is going to be a mess. I promise.

Once you've permitted it to cool enough to handle without burning yourself or ruining the bread, grab a serrated bread knife and slice yourself a piece of bread that has a lovely chew and crisp crust.

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