I started baking at 19 when Kelly and I first married.....that's a long time ago...because I'm older than Adam. But one of the first yeast doughs I tried were little German Mennonite rolls called Zweibach. And they were rolls alright! Rolling like a baseball and as a hard as one too! I could've killed my poor newlywed husband with those little rocks! But my uncle was on my side cheering me on. "Keep trying, you'll get it!" And amazingly I did get a little better. I even learned to make 100% freshly ground whole spelt rolls that are as fluffy and light as white buns...of course it helps that I'm old and have accumulated stuff...like a grain mill and a heavy duty Bosch mixer........those tools make the best whole grain breads.....But then I discovered overnight artisan bread.
This bread is so amazing and so easy Any newlywed can easily master it while keeping her husband alive! And the variations are endless. It's a dense bread and perfect for hard butter or homemade jam and just right for a charcuterie!
It's generally baked in a Dutch Oven like a Le Creuset pot but my mom has used the insert from her crock pot. The bread bakes at 450 degrees so make sure your pot can handle it! I would hate to be responsible for ruining your favorite pot!
So how's it done?
The basic recipe is:
3 cups flour - unbleached white or whole grain or a mix of both (if using whole grain you might have to use a tad bit more)
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp SAF yeast
1 1/2 cups water (+ a little extra if needed to make it a little easier to stir)
1. Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in about a 8 quart bowl.
2. Add the water all at once and stir until it's well incorporated.
Sometimes I add a little extra water if it's too dry looking. It should look a bit lumpy but not dry.
3. Cover it with plastic wrap or a lid and let it sit for 12-18 hours overnight.
4. In the morning, preheat the oven to 450 degrees
5. Dump the dough out onto lightly floured parchment paper. Using a stiff spatula "form" a lump.....it's not picky at all and seems rather pointless but just form a little lump anyway....:) Cover with plastic wrap.
6. While the dough sits, put your pot in the preheated oven and let it get heated for 30 minutes.
7. Take the lid off and drop the parchment paper along with the dough right into the pot.
8. Cover the pot with the lid.
9. Let it bake for 30 minutes.
10. After 30 minutes take the lid off and let it bake for another 15 minutes.
Voila!!! Artisan Bread you won't be able to resist. It disappears so fast around here it's actually embarrassing...
After you've mastered white bread then try variations - it's the best part!
I like to make it with whole grain spelt - you'll need a little more flour as spelt tends to soak up the water quicker than white.
My favorite variation is Orange, Cranberry, Almond Bread:
Add the zest from 1 orange, 3/4 c dried cranberries and 1/2 cup slivered almonds at step 1.
Another good one is Cheesy, Lemon Rosemary Bread:
Add the zest from 1 lemon, a few sprigs of freshly chopped Rosemary and 1/2 c of your choice of cheese - something hard and aged gives it kick. Parmesan works.
Everything else is the same.
And the best part? No preservatives, dyes, synthetic junk or anything hard to pronounce......homemade goodness!