Give Me the Simple Life

Are you a “Simplifier?” A person who is trying to whittle your life down to a more manageable size?

If so, we’re on the same wavelength.

During the past calendar year, I’ve worked on 5 cookbooks, so I put aside the blog until that work was done. Now, I’ve got lots of fresh ideas to share and time to blog. And the first “fresh” idea is utterly simple: fast, easy artisan bread. How can artisan bread be fast or easy, you might ask?

Well, first of all, you only need four ingredients: all-purpose or bread flour, instant or bread machine yeast, water, and salt. You stir the ingredients together in a bowl and let it rise on your kitchen counter for 2 hours.

That means one bowl, no kneading. Easy.

After that, you use the dough to bake that day or you cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 9 days. You can bake all kinds of loaves, rolls, flatbreads, etc. whenever you have the time. Fast!
You know exactly what’s in the bread, you’re saving money, eating well, and feeling accomplished. Genius!

Here’s the basic recipe for you to try. Make up your dough, put it in the frig, and come back another day. We’ll make a stunningly easy Wild Rice Batard.

Master Recipe #1 Easy Artisan Dough
(from 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads: No Knead, One Bowl by Judith Fertig)

This first master recipe introduces you to the basics of the Easy Artisan bread method. As you begin to make bread, all of this will get even easier. Your artisan loaves will have a crisp, darkened crust, a tender and moist crumb, and a mellow, toasty flavor—all with this easy method. The dough will also make delicious rolls, pizza, or flat bread. Makes bread, rolls, pizza, or flatbread to serve 12 to 16.

Measuring cups and spoons
Instant read thermometer
16-cup (4 L) bowl
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting 1.575 L
1 ½ tbsp instant or bread machine yeast 22 mL
1 ½ tbsp fine table or kosher salt 22 mL
3 cups lukewarm water, about 100°F (38 °C) 750 mL

1. Measure. Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix. Add the yeast and salt to the flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk. Pour in the water and stir together until just moistened. Beat 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.

3. Rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 72°F (22 °C) for 2 hours or until the dough has risen near the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance.

4. Use Right Away or Refrigerate. Use that day or place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 9 days before baking.


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