I have made many “artisan” doughs over the last several years, and while they’re all pretty good (and fun to try new ones) the one I’ve had the most consistency with is the recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. While it’s not nearly as wet as some of the doughs, if you follow the recipe and weigh out your flour and water, it’s just wet enough to be easy to handle and rise up nicely, but not so wet that it makes too large of holes and runs all over the place.
For one loaf I use:
- 453g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 340 g water, approximately 105 but no more than 115 degrees F
- 5 t salt
- 2 t instant or active dry yeast
- ½ t sourdough flavor
I will often add dried rosemary leaves to bread because I love the flavor it adds, I just throw in a couple of tablespoons at the beginning or end of kneading. The sourdough flavor is completely optional but I find it gives just a bit of tang.
Combine all of the ingredients and either mix and knead by hand (I’m far too lazy to do that) or use your mixer with the dough hook attachment.
This is my low-budget way to keep flour from flying all around the kitchen (I have since bought a larger mixer because I typically make bread at least once per week).
After the dough is well-mixed I will put it into a greased bowl turning once to coat and allow to rise for at least an hour in a warm place.
Normally I will turn on my oven just until I hear the element click on, then turn it off. This creates the perfect temperature for yeast to rise at. This works for my oven. You definitely want to watch it the first time you try. This is where having an oven thermometer is super valuable. You want the temperature to be between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal rising. Don’t get busy doing something else and forget to turn it off. Ask me how I know…
At this point you can do two things.
- Spray in a ziplock bag with oil, moosh it around to cover the inside of the bag with oil, place your dough in the bag, and refrigerate for up to one week. To be honest this is absolutely going to give you the best flavor. Yeast are amazing organisms and over time in refrigerator temperatures will develop flavors and aromas, adding complexity that isn’t there with fresh dough. After you remove the dough from the refrigerator, you will need to either leave at room temperature for about 3 hours (this can vary greatly as “room temperatures” are very different) or place in a bowl that contains water at about 110 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. Then continue on with the second rise/shaping baking. Because I typically make all of my bread/pizza dough on Sundays this works out well for me because I can make 2, 3 or 5 batches with very little cleaning in between. Cleaning is my least favorite part…
- Proceed to the second rise as follows.
I prefer my day to day bread to be in a long loaf style (baguette? I’m not sure this fits the definition exactly). Although a boule style (round) is nice too, the longer style is more convenient when you’re trying to do things like make toast or make French toast with the leftovers.
To make the bread easier to handle, I use an oblong banneton lined with parchment paper during the second rising phase. Then when it is time I just lift out the parchment and place it directly in the preheated cloche.
Allow the bread to rise until it is about double. Again here I use the method described above and heat the oven to about 105, 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of time this is going to take will really depend on whether the dough has been in the refrigerator (and how long left out after) and how active your yeast is. Typical time is between 45 minutes to 1.5 hour.
A note about yeast
I prefer to use SAF Instant Premium Yeast, and because I make so much bread I buy it in bulk. I keep the yeast in the freezer in a very tight food storage container, and take out what I need. This does keep the yeast fresher but there is still a difference in activity between the first use and when I’m finished with it. Therefore you will need to use your own judgement to determine when the bread is risen to your satisfaction.
This is the cloche I use. It’s not the exact same size as the banneton, but with a little bit of a wiggle it still works well and doing it this way is the easiest I have found to handle such a wet dough and still get something halfway presentable.
One of the critical things in getting a nice, crunchy crust, and the perfect amount of “oven spring” (the final quick rising before the crust sets) is making sure the cloche is sufficiently hot before putting the dough in it. I preheat the cloche at 475 for about 10 minutes (after the oven comes to temperature) to make sure it’s hot enough.
Cutting the crust of the bread with a razor blade or bread lame right before it goes into the oven really helps too. Typically since this dough is so wet I will do one long vertical cut to try to make sure that the inside can expand enough. If you can’t cut through no worries, the bread will simply break on its own. Although it looks a little messier (or rustic), it’s every bit as delicious.
After the bread is added to the cloche, close the cloche and turn the oven down to 425 degrees. Bake for approximately 38 to 40 minutes, then check for doneness. If you’re not sure how accurate your oven temperature is (and oven temperatures can vary GREATLY. When I checked mine I found that the top oven was 25 degrees higher than the setting, the bottom oven 25 degrees lower. For an oven that’s less than 5 years old…) start checking at 35 minutes.
You know bread is done when it sounds hollow when you rap your knuckles on it. At this point I will sometimes leave the lid off the cloche and cook a few more minutes to get the crust just a bit browner and crunchier but use your best judgement.
Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool at least a bit before slicing. If you can wait!
- • 340g lukewarm water
- • 453g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- • 2.5 t salt
- • 2 t instant or active dry yeast
- • ½ t sourdough flavor
- Weigh and combine ingredients.
- Knead ingredients for 5 minutes
- Allow to rise for 1 hour
- Shape into preferred shape
- Allow to rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1.5 hours
- Bake at 425 approximately 38 minutes