Artisan Bread & Focaccia

This flavor and texture of this bread is mind boggling considering the simplicity of the ingredients.  Use this for bread bowls, French bread, bread crumbs, etc.

13 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons yeast

6 cups luke-warm water

1. Mix dry ingredients with a whisk.  Add water and mix until there all ingredients are incorporated into a wet dough.

2. Let rest 2-5 hours.

3. Prepare a baking sheet by generously sprinkling it with cornmeal. With wet hands, take a 1-pound mass of dough and quickly shape into a boule (a round free formed loaf) and place on the cornmeal dusted pan.  Let rest 30 more minutes.

4.  While the loaf is resting, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees for about 20 minutes.

5.  Before putting loaf in oven, slash in an “X” or a “#” shape.  Mist or brush water on loaf.  Insert into oven and pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the oven (if it’s an electric) or into a metal pan set on the lower rack (if it’s a gas oven), closing the oven door quickly.

6. Bake for 30 minutes.

7. Store this loaf by wrapping a towel around it, preserving the fabulous crust.  If, after 1 or 2 days, you still have some of this bread left, use a plastic bag to preserve the crumb if desired.

Notes:

Remaining dough can be baked in the same manner over the next few days if kept in a cool place (it takes on a sourdough flavor). Use a pizza peel and a baking stone if you have them, letting the loaf rise on a cornmeal dusted pizza peel and baking it on a pre-heated baking stone.

Experiment with different shaped loaves (baguettes, longer/bigger free formed loaves, crusty rolls, bread bowls, etc.) adjusting baking time as needed.  The original recipe is half actually half of what I listed above, I just find it easier to remember the 13-3-3-6 ratio.

FOCACCIA BREAD

Roll or press dough flat onto cornmeal-dusted pan. Dimple the tops by pressing with your fingertips. Brush lightly with olive oil if desired, and place in the oven adding water to the oven as above. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and invert on a rack to cool, or serve warm.

Focaccia Additions: Knead them in or sprinkle them on top.

chopped fresh sage leaves

chopped fresh rosemary

2 cups chopped sundried tomatoes

1/2 pound imported black olives, pitted and chopped

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