Artisan Bread is highly sought after by people looking for a rich, natural tasting organic loaf that is expertly hand crafted with care. The basic ingredients that are found in a typical Artisan Bread recipe are water, yeast, salt and flour. There are times when milk or oil are added to the basic ingredients in order to produce specialized varieties of bread. Other recipes use cheese, fruit, nuts and other tasty ingredients in order to create a specific flavor. This richness of flavor is the key in any traditional Artisan bread, which vastly differs from the mass-produced vacuum packaged varieties found in your local grocery store. Although they do not have as long of a shelf life due to the lack of preservatives and chemicals, Artisan Bread provides a healthier, tastier and welcome alternative to the usual bland loaves consumers typically purchase.
There are a wide variety of Artisan breads available - each with its own separate recipe. For example, French Baguettes, Italian Focaccia, Deli-style Rye Bread and many more. In order to craft a successful version of one of these Artisan Breads, careful attention must be paid to the preparation and baking process. Traditional bakers rely on hand kneading the dough instead of using electric mixers to control the level of gluten strands. The division and shaping of dough is also important, since certain varieties must be developed and formed through folding, braiding and other methods. The baking process is usually done in stone or brick hearths with natural heat, using baking stones to evenly distribute heat and produce a nice, even crust. Artisan Bread Recipes have been created for pizza crusts, loaves for submarine sandwiches and hoagies, decadent croissants and stuffed loaves filled with tasty fillers. A prime example of a wonderful Artisan stuffed loaf is from a desert variety - the chocolate infused loaf. This Artisan Bread features chocolate chips and cocoa in the dough and also used as filler when the loaf is formed.
This delicious bread can easily be made at home, without having to search for local Artisan bakeries. A kitchen with the proper ingredients and tools will suffice. The best way to attempt this is to start off with the basic recipe (flour, salt, water and yeast) and introduce new ingredients to alter the flavor as proficiency increases. Fancier loaves use honey, or oil to add to the moisture content of the bread. Firmer dough can be achieved by allowing the dough to settle for additional time before kneading and folding.
Begin by mixing the ingredients well, until there is a firm form that is equally blended. Knead and fold the dough until it reaches a consistent texture throughout. Place this dough in an oiled bowl and cover it - allow the dough to rise (as the yeast is activated) until it has doubled in size. When the dough has reached a satisfactory size, divide the mass of dough into separate lumps and form these shapes to fit into available pans. An alternate method is to form a large lump and place it in the center of a baking stone. Preheat the oven for baking, and make sure it is ready once the dough has been divided and shaped. Place the dough into the oven, and carefully monitor it to ensure that the dough is being thoroughly baked. Adjustments may need to be made in order to develop the loaf to its full potential. When the dough has finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before serving. The residual heat continues to bake the loaf slightly, so do not be too eager to cut it open and release all the steam inside if the crumb (soft interior of the bread) is going to be softened.
That is the most basic artisan bread baking method. More advanced Artisan Bread recipes with exact measurements, different flavorings and styles are available from the link provided.
Enjoy the fruits of your labours - Artisan Bread is a joy to make and moreso to eat!
Diego Gosalbo is a contributing writer for http://www.artisanbreadrecipes.com - an online resource with articles and reviews of the best Artisan Bread Recipe books by the world's leading experts in bread baking.
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