Friday, July 27, 2012

King Arthur Flour Hearth Bread

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I am a bread-a-holic.  If I weren't on a diet, my diet would be comprised solely of carbs.  When I worked in Tustin, CA, I was conveniently down the street from a store called Claro's.  It was an italian food shop where you could get imported pastas, olive oils, canned san marzano tomatoes, as well as access to the very popular deli where they would make sandwiches right there for you, and their bakery full of italian breads and cookies and desserts.  One of the things I would go there specifically for was their crusty italian bread.  We don't know the name of it, but it was dark, it was crusty, and it was GOOOOOD!  My husband and I were very good at having half the loaf (it was a large loaf too) gone before we got home from there, if we went down there together.  It is such a happy store.  It is probably the best crusty bread ever, and now I am on a mission to find something that taste like it, and has the crusty happiness.  We think it might only be completely achieved when we get our wood fired pizza oven we lust after, but I figured I should give it a go anyways.

Research led me to my favorite baking site, King Arthur Flour and their Hearth Bread recipe.  This is their go to, traditional, on the back of their flour bags, recipe.  I opted for the version that was supposed to give a crustier, lighter product.  We only waited like two minutes after it came out of the oven to try it, but it definitely had the flavor of the bread from Claro's and a slight crustiness, but when I say Claro's bread is crusty, I am talking 1/4 inch of crispy, flaky bready crusty goodness (the kind where you happily eat the middle out of the slice of bread, then kind of munch of the crust).  This stuff left us, our laps, and our car covered in crumbs, but it was so worth it.  Mine may have been at a disadvantage because between baby and picking up our toddler at preschool and getting lunch, it may have over risen.  Fear not though, I am going to give it another try and see if I can get it any crustier.  The flavor was spot on though.

This is a fairly simple recipe, and anyone who likes good, simple, rustic bread, should definitely give it a try.  The only thing I changed was the addition of 1 1/2 tsp of diastatic malt powder, but that is a specialty item that you needn't worry about.

This is what it looked like when it came out.  It spread out quite a bit, and they ran in to each other.  My shaping wasn't the prettiest, but the good news is, that does not affect taste :)  Make sure you leave enough room between them.  As you can probably tell, we had already dug in by the time I could whip my camera out.

This would make fantastic garlic bread or panini sandwich bread if you cut it parallel to the table horizontally.  Oh my gosh would it be good....or pizza toppings and put under the broiler....or the good old stand by: cut it in big hunks and dig in!

King Arthur Flour's Hearth Bread (from their site)

Makes 2 loaves, 8 servings each, for a total of 16 servings

1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups warm water (not over 110°F)
5 1/2 to 6 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
boiling water

To mix: Mix together the first four ingredients. Let this stand until the yeast, sugar and salt are dissolved. Gradually add the flour to the liquid and mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead. (This may be a little messy, but don't give up!)

Knead It: Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself towards you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this process in a rhythmic, rocking motion for 5 minutes, sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent sticking. Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the mixing bowl. Knead the dough again for 2 to 3 minutes.

Let It Rise: Return the dough to the bowl and turn it over once to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel and keep warm until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

Shape it: Punch down the dough with your fist and briefly knead out any air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape into two Italian- or French-style loaves. Place the loaves on a cookie sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the loaves rest for 5 minutes.

Bake it: Lightly slash the tops of the loaves 3 or more times diagonally and brush them with cold water. Place on rack in a cold oven with a roasting pan full of boiling water on the oven bottom. Bake at 400°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow to the touch.

For a lighter, crustier bread, let your shaped loaves rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven and roasting pan with water to 500°F for 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with cold water, place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400°F and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool and devour!

For a heartier, more nutritious bread, substitute 2 cups of King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour for 2 cups of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.


1 serving (based on 5 1/2 cups flour used)-- Calories: 140 Carbs: 31g Fat: 0g Protein: 4g Fiber:1g

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