Home Baked Artisan Bread, Step-by-Step

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I was a bread making failure!

I've always wanted to be the sort of woman who bakes her own bread. You know the type... round-cheeked, apron-wearing, flour-dusted hands... always smiling. Never been able to get there. I tried baking bread - could've built a dry stone wall with my efforts. I bought a breadmaker and thought I'd cracked it with a perfect honey wholemeal loaf recipe but after a few months my bread began to sink. Think the seal had failed in the breadmaker so I gave up.

© This page was created by TheRaggedEdge. All rights reserved.

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Salvation Appears

After a couple more years feeding my family on the junk that passes for bread in our local supermarket, I treated myself to "Five-Minute Bread" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I was somewhat dismayed to read that I needed extra kitchen equipment, such as a pizza peel and a baking stone, before I could proceed. Not being in the mood to spend even more money right after 'Laptop Christmas', I decided to adapt their master recipe to my existing resources.

I'd recommend you get the book anyway, or perhaps the newer version, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking". There are loads of tips, lots of interesting information and a trillion recipes, well 80 in my book and almost 100 in "Artisan Bread".

The basic steps are weigh, mix, rest (the dough, not you), refrigerate, rest, bake, wait. You are only handling the dough for a few minutes and can be getting on with your domestic goddessing life while the yeast does its work. The instructions may appear long but after you have completed the process once or twice, you will see just how quick and easy it is to bake delicious, fragrant, crusty and additive-free bread.

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Ingredients to make 2 large loaves or 4 smaller ones

2lb/900g strong white bread flour or a mix (to your taste) of white and wholemeal.

1.5 tablespoons of granulated yeast.

1.5 tablespoons of coarse ground sea-salt. Adjust amount to taste.

1.25 pints/750ml warm water About blood temperature or slightly above. Cold water will work fine but you will need to increase the resting time.

Method Stage One - Dough

1. Pour water into a large mixing bowl, add salt and yeast. Stir. It doesn't matter if the salt doesn't dissolve completely.

2. Add all the flour - don't bother sieving it. Stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until well mixed. Dough should be floppy and wet. Should only take a few minutes.

3. Cover lightly - the yeast needs oxygen to activate, so don't use an airtight lid. A large plate would work fine. I use a domed stainless steel dish, that leaves plenty of space to accommodate the rising dough.

4. Rest for 2-5 hours at room temperature. I simply leave it sit on my counter top. The dough should double in size and then sink back slightly.

5. Place the whole shebang into the fridge, overnight is best but, if desperate for a bread-fix, you can use it any time after Step 3.

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Method Stage Two - Baking

1. Lightly butter or oil a cookie sheet or roasting tin and sprinkle with flour to prevent stickage.

2. Rub a little flour on your your hands and pull off a goodly lump of dough. A grapefruit-size piece makes a smallish loaf that will adequately feed a family of four. Experiment with different sizes. Use kitchen scissors, if you like.

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3 Now comes the clever part. Pull a piece of dough from the top of the lump over to the bottom. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat. This is known as the 'gluten cloak'. See photo. Shape dough into a ball or stretch it to make a longer loaf. Place on cookie sheet.

4. Leave it alone to rest at room temperature for 30-40 minutes. You can cover it if you want to - I would if it were summer and there were interested flying things around. Make sure the covering is not airtight.

5. About halfway through the resting time, switch on your oven to 400-425F, 210-220C, Gas Mark 6-7. Grab an oven tray, shallow dish or grill pan and half fill with water. Place it on a low shelf. The rising steam will help give your bread a crispy crust.

6. Sprinkle a little flour on to a knife and draw through the top of the loaf - score or cross it.

7. When the resting time is up, place your loaf on a middle shelf in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or 25 minutes if your loaf is baguette-shaped.

8. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack. It is often said that bread should not be cut while still hot. Give it a few minutes and then rip into it.... I dare you to resist any longer!

8. Slather with real butter and enjoy!

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Tips

Dough will keep for up to 14 days in a refrigerator.

The longer it is left, the better the flavor will be.

Start with a plain white batch of dough. Add wholemeal once you are familiar with the method.

Choose organic flour to get the best tasting bread.

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Do You Bake Bread? 18 comments

Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 4 years ago from Burlingame, CA

That looks amazing and delicious. Nicely done.


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales Author

Thank you, Paul.


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 4 years ago

Oh yum. I am familiar with the bread being hard as stones. I also have cut into a loaf only to find a huge hole instead of bread I was expecting. Good hub. Liked the pictures


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales Author

Thanks, I was taking photos, writing, baking, writing, taking photos, writing, eating, taking photos and writing like crazy yesterday!


BakingBread-101 profile image

BakingBread-101 4 years ago from Nevada

I've been baking bread about 33+ years and it is definitely a comfort food for me (making it and eating it!)! For those of you who do not have a scale, one pound of flour is approximately 4 cups. 1.25 pints of water is 2 1/2 cups of water. The water should be under 95 degrees farenheit so you don't kill the yeast. Salt can kill yeast, so usually it is best to add it after some of the flour.

You've done a fabulous job writing up the methodology of baking this bread! Great pictures! I can almost, but not quite, smell it fresh out of the oven -- oh, wait, that's the loaves I just baked!

Seriously nice job!


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales Author

Thank you! Yes, I'm in the UK and we use pounds or kilos rather than cups, so thanks for the info.

I made bread this morning without the tray of water and the crust is softer - my kids seem to prefer it that way.


BakingBread-101 profile image

BakingBread-101 4 years ago from Nevada

The water causes steam and the steam will crisp the crust--first it wets it and then the oven bakes it. If you keep your bread in a plastic bag that will also soften the crust we adults so like.


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales Author

I am missing the crispy crust! I baked some teeny rolls this morning for the kids to take to their home-school group, and they disappeared quite quickly. The rolls, that is... the children are still here.


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

I love baking bread and am always willing to try new recipes - thanks for the step by step photos. Voted useful!


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales Author

Thanks, Natashalh, much appreciated.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

Wow, I've never heard of this method before. Your bread looks fabulous and the method sounds so manageable. Thanks so much for sharing! I'll look into getting the book you recommend.


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales Author

It is really easy... and it becomes routine to throw the ingredients into a bowl once a week. My problem is that I do low-carb and find it very difficult to resist eating it when I make it for my family!


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

We've had home baked bread with our lunch today. It's far better than the shop stuff. I do tend to make the dough fresh every time, so like the idea of just making it up once a week. My Dad's very keen on making bread, he is far more adventurous than me, I just do "white" or "brown" - he makes all sorts.


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales Author

You'll like this one, Judi Bee. Perfect for us unadventurous types! I wish my husband had just the teeniest interest in baking - or cooking of any kind.


lemonkerdz profile image

lemonkerdz 4 years ago from TRUJILLO, PERU

Thank you for the bread hub. It is true, bought bread has so much junk in it. everyone should make their own bread it's really not that hard. pinned by me.


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales Author

Thanks for the lovely comment - and thanks for the pin too :)


Margaret Schindel profile image

Margaret Schindel 19 months ago from Massachusetts

Bev, I recently purchased "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients" along with the large dough bucket the authors recommend. I've been meaning to try this method but other priorities intervened. Thanks for the reminder and the inspiration. I really love the idea of making a large batch of delicious, healthy, whole grain bread dough that I can bake into fragrant, crusty, fresh bread and rolls over the course of a week or two!


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 19 months ago from Wales Author

I love the refrigerator method. Makes delicious bread. However, after six months or so I had to stop because I couldn't resist eating it! Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your bread!

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