If you’re into poetry, you may already know that April is National Poetry Month in the United States. This year, I accepted an instagram challenge to post poetry for 30 straight days. I’m more than halfway done, having posted original and curated poems, including a poem about making bread, because this month in my kitchen, you’d think it was National Bread Making Month. I’ve made bread at about the same pace as I’ve shared poetry. And all of that bread started with a dough made of four simple ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt. It’s hard to believe that one simple recipe can yield multiple bread loaves and almost unlimited possibilities…. But. It. Does.
I’ve made boule, stuffed sandwich loaves, dinner rolls, a spinach-filled bread, a few different filled breakfast braids, fry bread, pull-apart dinner rolls, naan, focaccia, even a “carrot cake” roll … all from the same basic dough. The original “master” recipe that sparked my artisan dough formula was the brainchild of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, who had the genius idea that you could make artisan bread in just 5 minutes a day. While there is a lot of “waiting” time, it doesn’t take much more than 5 minutes of hands-on work to prepare the simplest of loaves, and only about 15 to 30 if you want to go fancy with filled and braided loaves.
After some experimentation, I landed on several variants that are strikingly similar to their dough. I use a little less salt and a little more yeast in all of my versions, which range from white bread to whole wheat. I’ll be experimenting with more flour and meal blends in the coming months and will update this blog as I find suitable variations.
So far, I’ve added nuts and oats to the dough for some loaves, but I plan to get a variety of seeds and such to add more natural fiber to breads. I’ll post many of my recipes: just search for the tag “artisan bread” in Food Passages archives for recipe ideas, and check out Hertzberg’s and Francois’ blog here.
“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”― Ursula K. Le Guin
Select flour type or blend. All other ingredients for the dough are the same.
1. White bread:
6 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2. Whole wheat bread:
3 C whole wheat flour
3 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C all purpose flour
3. Whole wheat blend
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 1/2 C white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
4. White wheat blend
2 1/2 C all purpose flour
2 C white whole wheat flour
2 C whole wheat flour
3 C warm water
2 TSBP yeast
1 1/2 TBSP kosher salt
Prep time: about 5 minutes prep and 5 to 24 hours rise time
Yield: varies; about 4 sandwich loaves
In a large stand mixer bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Mix together flours and salt in a bowl. Add flour and salt with water and mix dough well. Stir with a spoon or use a mixer with bread hook attachment. (I use both.) Let sit for about 2 hours to rise. The dough will be sticky.
After first rise, you can use immediately or place covered (plastic wrap will work) in refrigerator for up to 14 days. (I use a damp flour cloth and a skillet lid.) For most applications, you’ll add additional flour to work the dough into a loaf. The whole wheat dough versions are a bit drier than the white flour version, but they yield a nice bread without adding more liquid.
Using this basic dough, you can make a range of everyday, savory, and sweet breads—boule, baguette, focaccia, sandwich bread, naan, cinnamon rolls, pizza, and more…. Give your imagination free rein in the land of leavened bread. What are you waiting for? Give it a try.