Beach Watchers Cookbook

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Crusty Artisan Bread

I've been making variations of this bread since November 2006, where the first versions of the recipe appeared in Mark Bittmann's column in the the New York Times. Later improvements came from Cooks Illustrated in late 2007. There is a great article with instructions and pictures by Nancy Leson of the Seattle Times (May 2008)

This version makes two loaves, and replaces some of the bread flour with whole wheat.

Special requirements:

  • parchment paper
  • heavy pots with close fitting lids **
  • heavy duty pot holders

4 c bread flour
2 c whole
    wheat flour
1 T salt
1/2 tsp bread-
   machine yeast
Whisk together bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.

14 oz water
3/4 c beer
2 Tbl white
3 Tbl honey
In separate container, mix water (14 oz is about 1 3/4 cups) and beer (a mild-flavored lager - the recipes suggest Budweiser, but I usually use Henry Weinhard's Blonde) Add the vinegar and honey and mix together well.

Add mixed liquids to the flour, using a strong wooden spoon to mix. Cutting through the mixture with a spatula, and turning it also helps to get the ingredients well mixed.

first rise
8-18 hours
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 8 to 18 hours.

form loaves

second rise
2 hours
Dump onto floured surface, dust with flour. Cut the dough in half.

For each half: Knead 10-15 times, form into a loaf, and put seam side down in a parchment-paper-lined mixing bowl or large skillet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for two hours. (Start the preheat step after 1.5 hours)

30 minutes
Half an hour -before- you are ready to bake, put covered pots ** into oven and turn oven to 500 degrees.

bakingReduce temperature to 425.

With heavy gloves, remove baking containers from oven and place the lids aside.

Remove plastic wrap from loaf. Lift loaf by parchment paper and place (paper and loaf) into baking container. Cut an cross into the top using kitchen shears. (See Nancy's picture)

Replace lid and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove lid and bake for 25 minutes.

Transfer to wire rack and cool 1-2 hours.

** You want a heavy pot with a close fitting lid. We have a mix of dutch ovens and also ceramic (crock-pot) liners with glass lids. The preheated pots create steam when the dough is first put in - this is what gives you the wonderful crust.

The trick for the double recipe is that -both- containers need to fit into the oven at the same time. I usually use one dutch oven, and one crock pot liner with glass lid. Test for fit in a cold oven!

Neal Clark


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