I had forgotten about this bread until I got a huge box in the mail this fall. My dear friend, Kelly had returned the book along with my bread container by mailing them from the U.S. to the Middle East. I didn't even know she had them. And, just like that, my love of this bread, of the simplicity and deliciousness, has been rekindled.
The recipe below will make 4 small 1-pound loaves or two larger loaves.
- 3 cups warm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 5-quart plastic food container with a lid, but not air tight (something like this)
- baking stone
- broiler tray (to hold boiling water for steam)
- parchment paper
- pizza peel (for transferring bread in and out of oven)
In 5-quart container combine water, yeast, and salt. Don't worry about it being all dissolved.
Mix in the flour. Add all of the flour at once, mixing with a wooden spoon. No need to knead. Keep mixing until everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. Use your hands if that's easier.
Allow dough to rise. Cover with lid (not airtight). Allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, approximately 2 hours. Don't worry too much about paying attention to how much the dough rises. You can leave it for longer and it won't affect the result.
Note: You can use the dough any time after this point, but I usually throw it into the refrigerator as doing so will produce a dough that is less wet and easier to work with.
When you're ready to bake a loaf, sprinkle the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour. Pull out a hunk of dough and use a serrated knife to cut off a piece.
Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotating as needed. The bottom might appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but no worries, it will flatten out during resting and baking.
Place the formed loaf on a piece of parchment paper on a pizza peel.
Let loaf rise for about 40 minutes, uncovered. Do not worry if it doesn't look like it rises very much.
Twenty minutes before baking, turn on the oven to 450 F with the baking stone placed on the middle rack and the broiler tray for water on any other shelf that won't interfere.
Sprinkle flour on top of the loaf. Using a serrated bread knife, slash a 1/4-inch deep pattern into the top. (See photo above or make your own design.)
After the oven has preheated for 20 minutes, put the bread in the oven onto the baking stone, using the pizza peel. Don't worry that the oven is not yet up to 450 F.
Quickly pour about 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and firm. Don't worry if the top gets a little dark, it will still be perfectly moist on the inside.
Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.
Store leftover dough in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.
Source: Artisan Bread in Five