So what is Artisan Bread? There’s nothing quite as good as a crusty loaf of Italian or French bread to go with your pasta, soup or salad. Many bakeries now pride themselves on baking fresh high quality breads that taste delicious.
Of course, you can pay a pretty penny for these breads, and the question is, are they worth the money?
That depends. Bread making is definitely a science and there is skill involved in creating a loaf with the perfect texture and flavor, which is what you are paying for when you’re paying five or six dollars for a loaf.
You see, a good loaf of bread really only needs four simple ingredients: Flour, salt, yeast and water. The flavor comes from fermentation, or the process in which the yeast slowly makes your bread rise. The longer the fermentation, the better flavor you’ll have. Of course, you can always add other ingredients, such as sugar or oil, but if you just want a good loaf of artisan bread, you don’t need anything but those four ingredients.
Making a good loaf of bread takes time, but it’s not even hands on time, it’s simply allowing it to mix, allowing it to rise and allowing it to bake. The skill comes in knowing how long to mix it, what the dough should feel like and knowing the right time to put it in the oven. If it doesn’t rise enough, you’ll end up with a heavy, too dense loaf; if it rises to much it will fall. It takes practice experimentation, and trial and error to get it right.
There are plenty of books, and techniques that speed up the process. You can make a perfectly fine, beautiful loaf of artisan bread in a few hours if you’d like. You won’t get that full yeasty flavor you would get if you allowed it to ferment in the refrigerator for a long period of time, but it will still taste better than a loaf of packaged bread you’re going to get at the grocery store.
With modern technology, it’s even easier than ever to bake your own bread. Instead of having to knead it by hand, a mixer with a dough hook will do the job perfectly. A baking stone placed in the oven will give that authentic hearth baked flavor, and a spray bottle filled with water will give you a crusty outside, and soft chewy middle.
Bottom line: You don’t need fancy ingredients, days on end, or expensive equipment to bake your artisan bread. All you need is a lot of flour, a little salt, a little yeast and some water.
Have you ever made Artisan Bread?