I love eating bread, especially what people call artisan bread. It is something you picture yourself eating at a cafe near the Seine River on the streets of Paris which I actually have done. Or maybe sampling a round artisan loaf of bread in a Tuscan village of Italy. It comes in different shapes and sizes but there is one thing for sure, the crusty amazing flavor is delicious!!
Wondering what artisan bread is exactly? Artisan bread sets itself apart with the ingredients that go into it. It takes more time overall to complete the process from bowl to oven to table and has no kneading. It has a dry crumb and closed structure. A container of boiling water is placed in the oven to create steam so the bread forms a crusty top. It is fairly easy to make.
You can make Artisan Bread and wow your family with your fancy kitchen creation. Your family will look forward to gathering for dinner if you start going the extra mile to make this type of bread for their sandwiches and other meals.
Simple Ingredients That Go Into Artisan Bread
You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already that go into making Artisan Bread. When you dig in and really research, you can find out all the different flours that can be used and why and how they affect your dough. However, here is a simple version so I don’t overwhelm you. Especially if you have never tried it before. Here are the ingredients you need :
- All Purpose Flour or Bread Flour
- Kosher Salt
- Instant Yeast or Active Dry Yeast (which requires hot water instead of lukewarm)
- Lukewarm Water
- Cornmeal is optional. It is for dusting the loaf of bread which helps with forming a delicious crunch to your bread.
- Liquid Soy Lecithin or Liquid Sunflower Lecithin is also optional but will help the dough emulsify and the bread rise better.
These ingredients are pretty basic. There are many recipes to choose from online for making this bread. I found that most of the recipes have the ingredients listed above in common. One ingredient that the recipes don’t have in them is oil. (Sweet! One less ingredient to worry about. )
There are a variety of flours you can use too if you do some research. It is okay to use all purpose flour if that is what you have on hand. Using bread flour makes chewier, stronger bread. You can still get a yummy loaf of bread though just using all purpose flour.
Experiment and see which flour you like better. Start out easy and once you get the artisan bread making process down, you can get more fancy in your choice of flour and recipe.
Give the Dough Extra Time
Once you mix the ingredients together your dough needs to sit for a while. Your dough should be a little sticky and it needs to sit in a warm spot for about two hours. Most bread dough you have to knead and once it doubles in your bowl, you form it into bread pans or rolls and then let it rise again and bake. Not with the artisan bread dough. Loosely cover your bowl with plastic wrap and then you leave it alone for two hours. No kneading required!
When time is up, you take your bread dough out of the bowl. Don’t over handle it. Touch the dough lightly when you create the loaves. Take a piece of the dough and gently shape it. To prevent your bread from becoming too dense and heavy make sure it is not too wet or too dry. Sticky yes but wet no.
Put your loaf on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal and let it sit for another forty minutes. Parchment paper is handy to use because it keeps your bread dough from sticking to your counter and keeps it from sticking to the pan you use. When your bread is ready to cook, you can slide the parchment with your loaf easily onto your pan. Again you don’t have to do any kneading! Just let it rest.
As the dough is allowed to slowly rise, it ferments and develops better flavor and tastes better. The result is also better texture. Some go as far to say that it is healthier for you and easier to digest than regular bread that is made with processed ingredients. Few ingredients, no kneading…what’s not to like about this bread!
Bread Forms a Dry Crumb and Closed Structure
Sticky is good with this bread dough like I mentioned. The stickier dough it is, the better. You want to get big airy pockets of air in the crumb. When you slice the bread after it is baked, you will see holes throughout it. That is what you want your bread to look like inside.
Another side note, you can refrigerate the dough overnight. If you can wait a day or two to serve bread for dinner, let it sit in the fridge for up to three days. The fermenting process is slowed down but the flavor goes up a notch! Dusting the bottom of your dough with cornmeal, helps a nice crust to form on the bottom of your bread.
Your recipe will most likely make enough bread to make two to three loaves depending on your recipe. You can make a loaf and store the rest of the dough in the fridge to cook another day. However, don’t let it stay in the fridge for more than three days. Why not share your bread and give a neighbor a loaf if you want to cook it all at once.
Before you cook your bread, take a knife and put a line down the top of it or some sort of design.
Steam Your Bread
While you preheat your oven, boil some water in a pan on your stove. Once your oven is properly heated, grab your parchment and put your bread loaf on a pizza stone, or the back of a cookie sheet, or other shallow pan. Slide your artisan bread loaf on the top rack. Pour the boiling water into an oven safe pan and place on the bottom rack. This will cause steam in your oven and create a nice crusty bread covering to your artisan bread. Cook your bread according to your recipe.
Easy to Make
I have probably mentioned it a time or two but let me say it again. This bread is easy to make! Find a recipe that you feel you can tackle. Trust me, there isn’t much you can do to mess this one up. Just mix everything together in a bowl and work with the dough until well mixed. Follow your recipe and prepare to wow your family with your efforts.
With so few ingredients, and an investment of some time, you can do this and you will be amazed at how easy it is to do. When your bread comes out of the oven, you may hear it talking to you as it may make a cracking noise as it cools.
To store any leftover bread put it cut side down on a piece of parchment paper on your counter. If you try to cover it, it will trap moisture and your bread will be soggy.
How Do You Eat Artisan Bread?
Eating artisan bread fresh out of the oven by itself is heavenly! It tastes delicious. You can slice it and use it for sandwiches. (A nice thing about this bread is it is sturdier meaning it doesn’t get as soggy with sandwiches as regular sandwich bread can get.
There are lots of options when it comes to eating this type of bread. You can make a variety of spreads to put on it. Everything from sweet to salty. Try honey butter, garlic salt and butter, cheese spreads etc… Have you ever had Swiss fondue? Artisan bread is perfect for dipping in hot melted cheeses or the more Italian way would be to dip it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You will feel like you are eating out at a European restaurant.
What bread is considered artisan?
When you make your artisan dough you can choose what kind of artisan bread you want to make. You will definitely impress people with your bread making skills by making a variety of artisan loaves of bread. Some of the breads listed below follow a different method and have other ingredients but are considered artisan nonetheless.. Here are some of the breads you can make.
- French Bread
- French Brioche
- Country Loaf (which makes a delicious Bruschetta)
- Rye Bread
- Petite Pan
- Hazelnut 12 Grain Bread
- Pain de Campagne
- Pizza Bianca
This list is not complete but gives you an idea of the variety you can try creating in your kitchen. You may also be interested in our blog post What’s the difference between artisan bread and regular bread?
What bread is considered artisan?
Depending on the type of artisan bread you make, you can flavor this type of bread with herbs and spices. Rosemary, garlic, basil, poppy seeds, sage, oregano, dill, thyme, nutmeg, etc…Consider what dish you are serving with your bread with and flavor it according to what flavor would go hand in hand with what you are serving. You could also just get creative and try different types of herbs to see what you and your family like best.
No matter how you fix artisan bread, it is sure to be a favorite. Easy to fix and delicious makes it a crowd pleaser.