Friday, October 4, 2013

Easy, Inexpensive, & Delicious Artisan Bread!

Want to enjoy scrumptious loaves of artisan bread for about $0.50 each instead of buying them for $5.00 each at Great Harvest?  Read on to find out how to save money while devouring loaf after loaf of this tasty homemade bread!
This has got to be the easiest bread I've ever made in my life.  It's just four ingredients and about 10 minutes of actual work.  The original recipe is from, but I'm going to break it down into a clear recipe and share a few of the mix-in's that I've tried thus far.  For a regular loaf, it should cost about 50 cents, but it may cost a bit extra depending upon what mix-ins you use.  In any case, it will save you a fair amount of money over the artisan bread at the store, which usually runs about $5 around here.  Soon you'll make bread this pretty too!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
Optional Mix-In's (see below)

1.  Mix flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.  Add the water and mix again. It will probably look like a gloppy mess, and this is okay.
2.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Let it sit in the bowl for 12-18 hours WITHOUT refrigerating it.
3.  Take a large pot with a lid and place it in the oven.
4.  Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Let the pot heat for about 30 minutes.  While your container is heating, knead the dough a few times on a well-floured surface.  Then let it sit for the rest of the time.
5.  Carefully remove your hot dish and plop your well-floured dough into the middle of it.  Put the lid on, and bake it for 30 minutes.
6.  Remove from the oven, take a peek inside to admire your handiwork, and then let it continue to bake with the lid on for another 15 minutes (or until you can't stand the delicious smell of home-made bread you've just created, and you burn your fingers getting it out of the pot while it's still very hot, only to smother it in butter and devour it!).  Enjoy!

Above is a little loaf of Parmesan & rosemary bread.  Our house smelled much akin to Heaven! My cast iron pot after baking- very little mess to clean up! Actually, when you cook with cast iron, you mostly just wipe it cleanish and call the rest "seasoning!"

As for the container, I use my cast iron pot & lid, but the the insert to a crock pot, an enamel-covered cast iron pot, Pyrex dish with lid, or anything else that can stand 450F will work too.  I haven't tried it uncovered yet, so let me know if you use a dish without a lid and it still works.  I'm going to try it in my cast iron on top of the woodstove to see if it works.  If it doesn't work on the stovetop, I'll try it inside the woodstove!  Maybe I'll leave the extracting of red-hot cast iron to my pyro-hubby!

Now for the mix-ins.  Add whatever sounds good to you during step 1.  I added 1 cup of Parmesan and about 2 Tablespoons of finely grated rosemary from our garden, and it turned out DELICIOUS!  Throw in a few Tablespoons of brown sugar and sprinkle it on the top in step 5 for a sugary treat, or add in a few tablespoons of your favorite nuts- sunflower seeds and flax taste wonderful.  I'm going to try some cranberries and lemon zest along with some Stevia in my next batch.  The knife in the very top picture is actually my favorite knife of all time- the cheese knife from Cutco!  My husband sells them, so let me know if you're in need of a good knife that is guaranteed for life (free sharpening for life too!).  Please leave a comment below to let us all know what mix-ins you've tried!  Happy Baking & Eating! :)

*Update- Try these mix ins for a unique loaf:
*1 tablespoon of flax, 2 tablespoons crushed walnuts, and 1 tablespoon of almonds makes a great, nutty bread.
*Add 2 tablespoons of garlic and a few dashes of garlic salt for a delicious loaf of garlic bread too!
*2 tablespoons of crushed walnuts and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar mixed in along with a dusting of brown sugar on the top will make for a scrumptious dessert bread.
*Mix in a cup (not packed down) of cranberries and a heaping tablespoon of orange zest for a sweet and tart loaf.
*With a 1/2 cup of cranberries and a 1/2 cup of apples mixed in, you'll have a scrumptious loaf of cranberry apple bread! 

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