Mrs. Regueiro's Plate: The Master Recipe: Whole Grain Artisan Loaf

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Master Recipe: Whole Grain Artisan Loaf

I'm so proud of myself because I stopped purchasing bread at the grocery store for about 2 weeks now. I've been baking my own bread a couple times a week using Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It's a foolproof recipe using the "no-knead" bread dough technique, and you make a batch large enough for 4 loaves, and store the container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Buy the book because there are so many little tips and techniques that really helped me with making this bread. The smell of freshly baked wheat bread lingering in the house is intoxicating, too. I plan on making different styles from this Master Recipe, but here is the first of many bread loaves that I'm making. Enjoy!

**Note: Follow the instructions below to make enough dough for at least four 1-pound loaves. The recipe can easily be doubled or halved.**

The Master Recipe: Whole Grain Artisan Loaf
Adapted by Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Revolution Continues with Whole Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables
Instructions here
5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (can decrease)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (can adjust to taste or health concerns)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) vital wheat gluten (or vital wheat gluten flour)
4 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F)
1 to 2 tablespoons of whole seed mixture for sprinkling on top crust: sesame, flaxseed, caraway, raw sunflower, poppy, and or anise

1. First, measure the dry ingredients into a 5-quart bucket or bowl, and whisk them together. Mixing the dry ingredients first prevents the vital wheat gluten from forming clumps once liquids are added. Now add the water to the dough, and try not to add any extra flour to it. (I use the KA to mix the dough together).

Cover loosely with the lid to the container or with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for two hours at room temperature. The dough will rise (a little more than double) and then will collapse to be flat on top. Refrigerate and use over the next 14 days. Do not seal in an airtight container. The lid should be loose to allow gas build up to escape.

On baking day, pull off a grapefruit sized (about 1 lb) piece of dough. You can tear it off or cut it with a serrated knife. Note: I use a scale to accurately measure out the dough.

Shape the loaf; DO NOT knead it. Just pull the sides down and around to the bottom of the loaf to form a ball. If baking it in a loaf pan, you will want to elongate it to fit into the pan. Otherwise, make a round loaf called a boule.

Cover the loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest on a pizza peel covered with cornmeal or baking silpat mat for 90 minutes. According to the book, whole grain dough takes longer to rest than white dough. You also won’t see much rise during this time, but it will rise once it’s in the oven.

After an hour, (30 minutes before baking), preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have one, put a baking stone (I used a clay plate from a planter, it's cheaper and works the same) on the a middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on the floor of the oven (this will need to hold about a cup of water). I also prepare the hot boiling water in a tea kettle.

Just before baking, brush the top with water. Slash the loaf with a 1/4-inch deep cut down the middle, if baking in a loaf pan. If baking a free-form loaf or boule, make diagonal slashes across the top or do a cross pattern.

Put the loaf pan into the oven, slide the loaf onto the hot baking stone, or put the loaf into the oven on a sheet pan. Before closing the oven door, pour 1 cup of water into the broiler tray on the bottom of the oven. Be careful, this will create a lot of steam. The steam helps give the loaf a great crust.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf, cool on a cooling rack, and serve at least 1 hour after baking. The bread’s texture will be better this way.

Review: Three cheers for successfully made yeast bread, and it does not harden over a couple of days. I place the bread loaves in a ziplock baggie, and it remains nice and soft after a couple of days. If you plan it right, you can have freshly made bread every other day. If you can't set aside 2 hours for the bread rise, there is an option of letting it rise in the fridge during the day, too. Just take out your portion of bread dough, and place it on the silpat and let it rise in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Take it out when you get home, and let it rise to room temperature for at least 30 minutes and then bake it as directed.
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