Easy Artisan Bread
from the Crow's Nest
6 1/2 c. bread flour
1 1/2 T dry yeast
1 T salt
3 c. warm water (100-110 degrees)
You will also need: A three-sided cookie sheet, corn meal, baking stone, hot water
In large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast and salt. Stir in the warm water until mixed well, scraping sides of bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes, adding more flour to your surface if necessary. Return to bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours.
Turn out onto a floured surface again, and using a large sharp knife, cut the dough into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the loaf you want. Form each section of dough into the desired shape (round, long, baguette..whatever). Please on a 3-sided cookie sheet that has been liberally dusted with corn meal. Cover with clean dish towel and let rise about 40 minutes or until about doubled in size. You can keep part of the dough in the fridge for future use (within 9 days), if you don't want to bake it all at once.
About 30 minutes prior to baking, preheat your oven to 450. Once the oven is to temp, place a pizza/baking stone on center rack, and an old pan (I use a scratched and dented old 9 x 13 pan I have) onto the bottom rack. They need to be heated prior to baking. Once bread is ready, gently slide the loaf onto the baking stone and put 2-3 cups of hot water into the lower pan. Quickly close the oven. It's the steam from the water that makes the crusty loaf! Bake for 25-30 minutes. When you knock on the loaf, it should sound hollow.
Remove from the baking stone and cool. Cut and enjoy warm with some yummy butter!
This bread is so versatile, try adding some fresh chopped rosemary to the loaf. Brush top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt before making - yummy! Be creative...add jalapenos and grated cheddar cheese to the batter. Good luck!