Spectacular Artisan Bread Making

Delicious Artisan Loaf

Spectacular Artisan Bread Making at Home

My definition of artisan is the production of a quality product in limited quantities from traditional methods. When used in combination with the word bread, it implies the extra care taken to craft the loaf from start to finish. It is a testament to the superior quality of the dough in creating characteristic flavor, augmenting its freshness. Crafting high-quality homemade bread is part skill and part art form. The art form comes from the massaging of the recipe to ensure flavorful, tasty bread. The expertise and talent come from using the right tools correctly and applying the correct baking techniques to the production of the dough.   

Before dealing with what is Artisan Bread Making,” it is essential to understand what makes it different from mass-produced loaves. From this, you may determine if artisan bread is worth the time, effort, and care you must devote to each baking. However, the wholesome benefits, natural goodness, and flavor will undoubtedly inspire you to make Artisan bread at home.

Sliced Artisan Bread

What is the Difference between artisan bread and regular bread?

Apart from the semantic difference between artisan and mass-produced bread, there are other differences than just the name. A significant difference is the use of minimal but natural ingredients. Another critical difference is convenience. It is easy to pick up a mass-produced loaf or even a large-brand artisan bread at the grocery. Homemade bread takes time. Large-brand bread s are the “Ikea” loaves of the bakery sector. Baking at home is a labor of love, its time for the natural fermentation process, the kneading, the proofing, and the baking. 

Each loaf is handmade, making it extra special. Be the artisan in this bread making and treat yourself with some freshly baked goodness. Indulge in artisan bread recipes and try different variations for various tastes.

Artisan Bread is fresh homemade bread for immediate consumption, unlike the modern chemically infused processed loaves on today’s stores’ shelves. It is crusty, aromatic, chewy, and flavorful, making it a unique food in today’s world. The name signifies the care and expertise applied to enhance the quality of the loaf right from the ingredients to the style of making bread. It is sometimes also referred to as 'no-knead bread.'

Apart from not being infused with artificial fermenting agents, artisan bread is preferred for its delicious taste as well. It is the artisan technique of not using synthetic substances but ensuring natural fermentation that drives people to savor it. Mass-produced bread is prepared by following the Chorleywood process. This method accelerates the fermentation process using additives, energy mixers, and other chemicals. On the contrary, fresh loaves involve a long fermentation process of up to 24 hours. Thus, enabling the natural enzymes to react with the dough in their own time. Slow fermentation with natural yeast enzymes ensures a better flavor and a smooth yet crusty texture.

Fresh baked artisan loaves

Is Artisan Bread Good for You?

Artisan bread is carefully hand-crafted with attention given to detail. The crafter is responsible for choosing the healthiest ingredients they can source, to the finishing of the loaf. Opting for whole-grain bread, you are treating yourself to many essential nutrients. It is an excellent source of fiber abundant with antioxidants but also may help by reducing the risk of diabetes. Your circulatory and digestive system also benefit significantly with this homemade delicacy.

Its fresh taste, coupled with the essential nutrients makes it right for you. In contrast, regular store-bought loaves contain preservatives, refined sugars, and other chemicals. Other than its natural goodness and rustic flavor, artisan bread is easy on your stomach. It is more comfortable to digest as the enzymes break-down the gluten during the long period of fermentation.

Moreover, the longer the fermentation process, the longer its shelf-life. Hence, you can savor it in your own time. The best part is, you save money instead of buying it from a bakery or supermarket always. Yes, the first loaf you bake may cost more money than purchasing a store loaf because you need to buy all of the ingredients. Once you have the essential materials, the next loaf costs a lot less. Also, you get the real pleasure and satisfaction of having produced a healthy, tasty bread for yourself and your family.

Folding dough for artisan bread

Make Artisan Bread at Home

If you wish to try it for yourself, then try this easy recipe at home. It is easy to make and allows you to enjoy freshly baked healthy bread for dinner. It is rich in nutrients when you opt for whole-grain flour.

For making your home artisan bread, you need the following ingredients (for one loaf);

  • 6 1/2 cups of whole-wheat flour – Note: depending on your health and dietary restrictions, there are other flour types you may use instead of whole-wheat or multigrain.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast (granulated)
  • 3 cups of lukewarm water

Steps involved in preparing Artisan Bread dough;

  • In a large container or a resealable bowl, add the yeast, salt, and water.
  • Add all the Artisan bread flour at once and using a wooden spoon mix till your mixture is even.
  • If the mixture is hard, try mixing it with wet hands or using a heavy-duty stand mixer to mix it well. 
  • Mix until there are no dry patches on the dough or until it turns of uniform consistency.

Note:

Kneading this bread is unnecessary. It is for this reason; it is called a no-knead artisan bread recipe. However, in this soft artisan bread recipe, the dough can work on its own. It relies on the natural enzymes and yeast making its texture soft.

  • Now cover the container or bowl with a lid (non-airtight)
  • Wait until the dough rises and collapses after flattening on top. This process may last for approximately 2 hours and depends on the room and water temperature.
  • Your artisan bread dough is now ready to use. However, you can also refrigerate it for baking later.
  • Storing the dough by refrigeration allows you to bake and savor fresh bread after a long day at work.

Tip:

For easy baking, divide the dough in required potions before refrigeration.

  • Now cover the container or bowl with a lid (non-airtight)
  • Wait until the dough rises and collapses after flattening on top. This process may last for approximately 2 hours and depends on the room and water temperature.
  • Your artisan bread dough is now ready to use. However, you can also refrigerate it for baking later.
  • Storing the dough by refrigeration allows you to bake and savor fresh bread after a long day at work.
Steps involved in baking the bread;
  • Shower some flour on the dough surface, then pull on it.
  • With the help of a serrated knife, cut the dough into pieces of the size of a grapefruit.
  • Rotate the dough and stretch it on all sides. Add flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. Ensure that the dough ball’s bottom appears like a bunched end.
  • Now, let the dough rest for about 40 minutes by placing the dough on a baking tray or pizza peel. Sprinkle some cornmeal on the dough.
  • Slash the dough using a serrated knife to a depth of about 1/4".
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the dough in the oven and bake it for 30 minutes or until the crust turns brown.
  • Allow the bread to cool before slicing for enhanced flavor and better texture.

Note:

You can store the leftover artisan bread dough for 14 days. The taste and flavor of the bread will improve, the longer you allow it to refrigerate.

Tip:

Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours as the colder it gets, the less sticky it becomes. For better results, refrigerate it overnight.

Yummy artisan bread

Using a Dutch oven

Other forms of artisan bread require more extended proofing periods. After preparation of the dough, it is covered, and during this time, tiny bubbles appear on the surface of the mixture. The dough should double in its size, meaning it has risen well. It usually takes some time between 12 to 18 hours.

  • Place the Dutch oven in the oven and preheat it for about 30 minutes at 450°.
  • Remove the Dutch oven carefully and place the dough in it.
  • Cover the Dutch oven, put it back into the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Then, remove the lid of the Dutch oven and bake for an extra 8 to 15 minutes.
  • Make sure that the top of the bread looks nice and brown.
  • Remove the loaf and allow it to cool for 30 minutes at least before slicing it into desired pieces.
  • If you do not have a Dutch oven, use a crock-pot or any other stoneware with enamel coating. You can make use of any foil to cover it for the initial baking process.
Bread baking in oven

​Soft Artisan Bread Recipe

Why is my artisan bread dense? If you are facing this issue, the solution is quite simple. To bake softer artisan bread, add yeast to warm water with a pinch of honey or sugar. This additional step allows the yeast to multiply faster and thus accelerating the natural fermentation. The more vigorous the fermentation, the softer the bread you will produce. To ensure the yeast is working, wait for the yeast solution to foam before adding the remaining water and flour.

Also, do not use too much dry flour if the dough is sticky. Wet your hands with water or oil for mixing the dough. The more viscous the mixture, the softer the loaf will be. By adding too much flour, you will prevent the dough from rising and thus makes it dense. For whole grain flour, allow the mixture to ferment for more than 24 hours. Allow the dough to rise naturally; patience is the key to soft artisan bread. Proofing the dough also helps you make soft artisan bread.

Tip: Poke Test

To test whether your dough has fully risen or not, you can try the “Poke Test.” Oil or wet your index and middle fingers. Now, poke any side of the dough to at least half an inch. If the indention you have made springs back, it means the batter has not risen enough. Thus, the key to determining whether it has risen sufficiently is how quickly the dough rebounds.

You can also add extra ingredients alongside the flour to enhance the taste. From roasted nuts to fresh herbs, you can add them to what you desire. After removing the bread from the oven, you can also brush it with olive oil for a restaurant like appeal.

Follow this easy to make homemade artisan bread recipe to create your version. Please don’t waste time searching for artisan bread near me; you can plan out the day in advance to bake your very own bread. As the bread needs a rest period of close to 12 or 18 hours, plan a day.

You must use an active yeast to ensure your dough rises. If it fails to increase and expand, it means the yeast you have used in not active. Choose your yeast wisely as the entire fermentation process relies on it. Make sure you use sea salt rather than ordinary table salt. Sea salt plays a crucial role in taste and how healthy your bread is.

Do not add additional ingredients that will interfere with the yeast’s action. For instance, adding chunks of garlic will inhibit the fermentation process. The yeast must be allowed to work its magic. It is wise to experiment with ingredients, especially for beginners. As a novice bread maker, you will fail a few times before you succeed. Do not lose heart with a failure; this is a learning process.

If your first attempt fails, try to figure out the root cause of its failure. Make sure you follow all the steps for preparing, proofing, and baking the loaf correctly. If you find shaping the dough difficult as it is sticky, you can sprinkle it with some flour. However, make sure that you are not liberal with it as it will change the density of the bread. Master the art of folding, work, or fold the dough a few times before baking. After baking, enjoy your healthy, tasty creation and laud the adulation from your friends and family.

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