It is no secret that I am a lover of butter. So this weekend I sat pondering the possibilities – what can I cover in butter today? After no less than a minute, I figured it out. A classic, but dangerous recipe for anyone watching their waistline. Artisan bread, with a delectable homemade garlic butter. As a cook, I try not to be lazy and cut corners – but this recipe is surprisingly easy!
Doesn’t that look simply amazing? It was. I definitely did not eat the whole loaf to myself in just two days. I would never do something that irresponsible. (Cough). The ease of this recipe makes you feel a little better when you eat it too quickly – you can simply whip up another and nobody will notice! This bread is so straightforward to make, but looks you spent hours kneading away at an unruly dough!
You want to start off with a nice big bowl so there is enough room for the dough to rise. Without sifting (because we are being lazy), measure out 3 cups of flour. Don’t worry about being too precise. Shake a single packet of active dry yeast and roughly a teaspoon of freshly ground salt. If you use pouring table salt, cut this to around 1/2 a teaspoon.
Measure out a cup and a half of lukewarm water. It is essential for it to be lukewarm – not warm to the touch, but not cold either. Pour this into the bowl over all the other ingredients and let it sit for just a minute. With a sturdy wooden spoon, mix all the ingredients together until they form a rough and shaggy dough. You don’t want it to look like a perfect dough, as it will be rising and that is simply too much work! The more you work the dough, the less air will be in your bread. In other words – it will be dense. Cover the bowl in saran wrap and let it sit until the surface is nice and bubbly, and has risen to at least twice it’s size. It can take anywhere between 5, 8 and 24 hours. If it doesn’t look ready by 24 hours, it is possible that your yeast is old and won’t work as a rising agent anymore. This is what it should look like:
Preheat your oven to 450 F. For best results in baking, use an enameled cast iron pan (I like Le Creuset) with a lid. You can also use a crockpot insert, but be sure not to use the lid as it may melt. You can use a lid from another pan (as long as it is oven safe) or aluminum foil if necessary. (Note: Check your pan can withstand temperatures above 400, some do not and will break or warp). You will need to preheat the pan while the oven is heating before you bake the bread.
Flour your counter and pry as much dough as you can from the bowl. I strongly advise for you to have wet hands while you pry – I ended up making a smaller loaf the first time as half the dough stuck to my hands! Handling the dough as little as possible, make a round shape and flour the whole ball.
Sprinkle a small amount of flour in the bottom of the pan and drop the dough in, making sure you don’t burn yourself. (Again, I definitely didn’t do this…)
Bake at 450 F for 30 minutes with the lid on. After the 30 minutes is over, take the lid off and continue baking until the top of the loaf is a perfect golden brown color.
Depending on how you shape the loaf, it can look different. On the first one, I made a few slits to make the square shapes, but decided to leave the second one. While it is still hot, Cut a slice and serve with freshly made garlic butter. To make this, follow this link to a separate post all about my flavored butters!
If you want to make flavored bread, add these in with the dry ingredients. Suggestions:
Basil leaves, torn