Monday, March 14, 2011

Whole Grain Artesian Free-Form Loaf

One of the goals that I have set for myself in the kitchen this year is to attempt to bake more with yeast. I have always been intrigued by homemade bread but have been scared to venture out to recipes that didn't involve using my bread machine. Don't get me wrong. I love using my bread machine to mix up and knead the dough. It leaves me to do other things in the kitchen and even out of the house (ie: go to the gym). My problem is that it was quite the security blanket. For some reason, I was sure my bread dough would fail unless I could put it in the bread machine for that first rise.

Given my insecurities with yeast, I was excited to stumble upon the cookbook Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day at the library. I have heard quite a bit about both this book and its predecessor, Artesian Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and all the chatter was good. It is a book that I've been wanting to look through, and I really like the fact that they've taken the time to adapt their original recipes to accommodate whole grains. what's not to love about a dough that you can mix up and leave in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, using it as needed? 
Right now, I've had the dough in my refrigerator for about a week, and I have made 2 recipes. The first and original recipe in the book is this free-form loaf. I wanted to make this one first to get a good idea of what the dough would be like in it's original state. I served this bread with a vegetarian dish, and it made an excellent side. I liked that you could control the size of the loaf, so that I could scale it down a little since I was only serving the two of us. We ate most of it with this one meal with only enough leftovers for a couple slices of toast in the morning. n the book, tIhe authors spend the first 50 pages or so of the book explaining different flours, techniques, etc. I really like this because it allows you really feel like you know what you are doing and helps teach you why you are doing certain things or using certain ingredients.

The only thing I didn't like about the book is that I don't own a pizza peel. I do own a baking stone, however when we make homemade pizza we typically just make the crust on parchment. The book says that parchment paper can be used, however it should be removed towards the end of the baking process. For the time being, I sprinkled my silicone mat with cornmeal and jigged/jagged the paper until the dough came off on the stone so that I didn't have to worry about pulling the paper out. With the amount of homemade pizza that we make, a pizza peel may be on the wish list soon, and it would certainly the bread easier too. I know that this cookbook will definitely be on my wish list as my husband has already been asking me to make this loaf again. We'll see. There are lots of other recipes to try in this book with my dough =) Stop back tomorrow to see my second recipe!
(Printable Recipe)

Whole Grain Artesian Free-Form Loaf
From Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

720 gm (5-1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
270 gm (2 cups) unbleached, all-purpose flour (if using bleached, decrease the water by 1/4 c.) 
1-1/2 Tbsp. (2 pkgs) granulated yeast (they recommend the jarred kind)
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt (2 tsp. table salt)
35 gm (1/4 cup) Hodgson Mill or Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten
4 cups lukewarm water
1-2 Tbsp. whole seed mixture for sprinkling on top crust: sesame, flaxseed, caraway, raw sunflower, poppy, and/or anise

Measure the dry ingredients. Weigh them if possible. Whisk together in a 5-qt bowl or resealable, lidded plastic food container. 

Warm the water until it feels slightly warmer than body temperature (about 100 degrees F). Add all at once to the dry ingredients and mix without kneading, with a spoon, a 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle attachment). You may need to use wet hands to get the last bit of dough together if not using an appliance. It is finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. The dough should be wet and remain loose enough to conform to the shape of its container. DO NOT KNEAD.

Cover the bowl with a lid (not airtight) or plastic wrap and allow it to rise at room temperature until it starts to collapse (flattens at the top). This should take about 2 hours. Longer rising times, even overnight, will not affect the final result. After rising, refrigerate in the lidded container and use over the next 14 days. Leave the container open a crack for the first 48 hours to prevent the buildup of gases. Try to wait at least 24 hours before using the dough as time will improve the flavor and texture of the bread. Never punch down the dough. 

On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal (or lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat) to prevent the loaf from sticking when you slide it onto the stone. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece of dough using a serrated knife or kitchen shears. Hold the dough in your hands and add a little more flour so that it doesn't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating a quarter turn after each, to form a ball. Most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the ball will be a collection of dough, but it will flatten and adhere during resting and baking. The final dough should be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no longer than 20-40 seconds to avoid making the loaf dense.

Stretch the ball slightly to elongate it, and taper the ends by rolling them between your palms and pinching them. Allow the loaf to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, on the prepared pizza peel for 90 minutes. Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise; instead, it may spread sideways. More rising will occur during baking (oven spring). 

Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty metal broiler tray for holding water on a different rack near the bottom of the oven. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top of the bread with water. Sprinkle with the seed mixture if desired. Slash the top of the loaf with 1/4-inch-deep parallel cuts across the top using a serrated bread knife. 

Remove the stone from the oven and with a quick jerking motion slide the loaf off the peel onto the stone. If using parchment or a silicone mat, these can go directly on the stone. Replace the stone in the oven and quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water into the empty tray at the bottom of the oven and quickly close the door of the oven to trap the steam. If you used parchment paper or a silicone mat, carefully remove it and bake the loaf directly on the stone about 20 minutes into the bake time. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is richly browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack for the best flavor, texture, and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled. 

Yield: Enough dough for four 1-pound loaves. The recipe can easily be halved or doubled.

Whole Wheat Bread on FoodistaWhole Wheat Bread


  1. I love this book! I bought it about a year ago. Sadly, I have only made it through the reading part of the book and have yet to make a recipe from it. That has been one of my goals for when school settles down, but you know all too well how that goes! Glad you liked it! It may encourage me to bust the book out. Miss you!

  2. I really need that book. This bread looks fantastic.

  3. Your bread looks great! Don't you just love the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven? Such a comfort! It's so nice to meet you...thanks for stopping by and leaving a sweet comment for me!

  4. I love homemade bread. Do I read this right, no kneading? Kneading is my challenge! This looks delicious.

  5. i would do just abt anything for a slice of that bread! looks amazing


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