No-Knead European Peasant Bread

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noknead_peasant_bread2.jpgThis is my favorite recipe from the cookbook "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" because it has a slightly buttery flavor from the rye and wheat flours added to the usual recipe. The method is simple: mix everything together, let it rise once for a couple of hours, then keep in the fridge until you want to bake. On baking days, it only takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to make a loaf, which really isn't bad for real yeast bread. Steam and a baking stone help the crust develop a crackling artisan texture. This dough can be used for other recipes as well - calzones are one of my favorite alternatives when we've had our fill of plain bread. 

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (or 2 packets)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (original recipe calls for 1.5)
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
cornmeal for pizza peel
-Makes 4 1-pound loaves but can be doubled or halved.

Mix
Mix yeast and salt with the water in a 5 quart (20 cup) container (best if it has a lid but is not airtight).
Mix in remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a wooden spoon or mixer.
Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on the top) approximately 2 hours.
The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days.

Shape
On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut of a 1 pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Rest
Allow to rest and rise for 40 minutes on a pizza peel or cutting board that is well covered in cornmeal. Note: you won't see much change in size during this time.

20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place and empty (metal!) pan or broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

Bake
Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave flour in place for baking, tap some of it off before slicing.

Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top crust is deeply browned and firm. Allow to cool before slicing.

From: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

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