Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rustic Crusty Bread + Crockpot Instructions!!

This bread is SO delicious and SO super easy!  Coming from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day, it tastes and looks like it came from a professional bakery.  The dough can be made days in advance and it can be cooked in a crockpot too!  Not that the baking it in the oven is extremely difficult, but if you don't have a pizza stone or if you don't want to heat up the house, or if the heating element on your oven goes out freaking you out half to death that the house is going to catch on fire and justifying an emergency trip to DQ for a Blizzard to  literally cool down the nerves (So what?  I eat when I'm stressed.) which said Blizzard ends up tasting like mint Oreo even though you are pretty sure you ordered cookie dough-- then cooking it in the crockpot is a method to try!  And it's fun too.  When I bake this, we are lucky if we have any leftovers.  Our family a four can down of a loaf of this bread at one meal.  I like this bread because it kind of has a bit of a tang to it, almost like sourdough, but not as strong.  It also makes EXCELLENT sandwich/panini bread, garlic cheese bread, and homemade croutons. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Rustic Crusty Bread

1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups warm water
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting dough

In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into water. Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for at least 2 hours, up to 5 hours.
At this point you can bake it or store it covered in an airtight container, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, divide in half. (You can cook both loaves now or bake one and save one for later.) Form the dough into a ball by stretching the dough to create a smooth topped ball and bumpy bottom. Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper set on a pizza peel. Let the dough rest for 40 minutes for room temperature dough; if you have used the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 1 1/2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it. Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat the stone at that temperature for 20 minutes before baking. After the dough has rested and is ready to bake, dust the dough lightly with flour, slash the top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide the dough (with the parchment paper) onto the baking stone. Pour one cup of hot water into the broiler pan and shut the oven quickly to trap the steam. Bake the bread until nicely browned, about 24-28 minutes. Cool completely. Makes 2 loaves.

*You can also stretch the rounded dough into an oval and place in a greased loaf pan. Let it rise for 40 minutes if fresh (add an extra hour if the dough has been refrigerated). Bake in the loaf pan in the 450 degree oven, checking after 20-22 minutes.

*Crockpot Instructions:  When ready to bake, shape dough into a ball (only use half, do not cook the full recipe) place ball on a piece of parchment paper.  Place parchment paper and dough ball into a slow cooker.  Cover with lid.  Turn crockpot onto high and bake 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  Mine takes 1-1/2 hours, but every crockpot cooks a little differently.  It may not take as long or it may take a little longer.  When done, remove from crockpot and pop in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes to get the top browned.

As I mentioned previous in the post, this makes Excellent Garlic Cheese Bread!  Slice into pieces, mix together butter and your favorite Garlic Bread Seasoning.  Brush onto bread slices and top with a mixture of Italian cheeses.  Place under broiler until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, bubbly and beginning to brown.

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