All of the credit for this recipe and technique goes to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, authors of "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking" St. Martin's Press, 2007, ISBN-13:978-0-312-36291-1, ISBN-10:0-312-36291-9, and is used with their permission.
I, the author of this Instructable, am in no way affiliated with Hertzberg and Francois, or St. Martin's Press, and I have no financial interest at stake. I just like great, quick, cheap bread, and I want to spread the word. My fiance calls me "the bread messiah".
After working as a professional cook for seven years, I needed a change, and I have worked for the last ten years in the building trades. Jacqueline and I cook from scratch daily, but the baking duties usually fell upon her, as she is a talented baker and I am inept when dealing with dough. A little over a year and a half ago, Jacque started law school, and, alas, had no more time to bake. I heard about this book in December of '08, bought it just after New Year's, and we haven't bought a loaf of bread, or roll, or bun, or pizza crust since, and I am still working 40 hours a week, and Jacque even more.
Five minutes a day, on average, is really all it takes.
This Instructable will present the basic recipe, used to make boules, baguettes, and ciabatta, and many other variations. I will answer some questions about the basic recipe as they come up, but for the full answers, and the recipes for Caraway Rye, European Peasant Bread, Bagels, Bialys, Pumpernickel, 100% Whole Wheat, Brioche, Broa, Pretzels, Carmel Pecan Rolls, and dozens more, buy the book. It worth every penny, and Hertzberg and Francois deserve to be recompensed for their brilliant work.
Step 1: Equipment and Ingredients
Pizza stone- I got mine, with accessories, at the local hardware/home store for $13
1 cup measuring cup (Don't use a 2 cupper. More on that later)
1 Tablespoon measure
Flat shallow pan- a broiler tray or large cake pan works great DO NOT USE A GLASS OR PYREX PAN
Serrated bread knife
A large bin, bucket, or tub with a NON-AIRTIGHT lid for the dough. (I use an 8qt. foodsafe insert)
Pizza peel (the wooden paddle thing)
6C./1450g Lukewarm Water (I use tap)
3 Tablespoons/28g Active Dry Yeast, or four packets (I use Red Star)
3 Tablespoons/50g Kosher or flake salt (I use Morton's)
13C./1850g All-Purpose Unbleached Flour (I use whatever is on sale)
DON'T actually measure out the flour yet.
I actually only use about 2T. salt. Some people prefer less, and others more, but 3 T is a good starting point.
Only use All-purpose Unbleached flour, as other types of flour are not interchangeable due to the varying gluten contents. Feel free to experiment, but results are not guaranteed. Get the book to find many other recipes using different types of flour.