The recipe below is the result of perfecting a simple recipe and tinkering with it by adding ingredients that suit personal tastes. It is based on a recipe in an earlier post, has improved texture, lasts longer and has more protein than the "base" recipe. The addition of vital wheat gluten makes for a lighter bread and prolongs the life of the loaf. The loaves made with the “Basic Artisan Loaf” are good for about 36 hours before they start to get stale. With this recipe, I’ve had a loaf live to see its third day.
Adding the flax seed provides an extra protein boost and, along with the cornmeal, provides a different texture than the standard Four-ingredient loaf. The extra steps in this recipe are well worth the rewards, and it is also a great example of how becoming good at a simple recipe can provide room for experimentation in the kitchen.
Large mixing bowl
Measuring spoons and cups
Medium-sized bowl or colander
3 cups white unbleached flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1.5 tbsp dry active yeast
1.5 tbsp salt
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup flax seed
3.5 cups warm water
Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl. Slowly add the water to the dry ingredients, stirring frequently, until there is nothing dry left in the bowl. Cover the bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. After the dough has risen, it is ready to be used or can be stored in the refrigerator.
Take a 1-lb. ball of dough (about the size of a grapefruit) and place it on a lightly floured, non-stick surface and cover it (I usually use a large bowl or colander). Let dough sit for 1 hour. When the hour is almost up, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure the baking stone is inside. Before the loaf is ready for the oven, it may need some reshaping. It is advised to do so with wet hands. After the oven has preheated, take the baking stone out, and place the loaf on it. Slice diagonally four times across the length of the loaf.
Place the stone back in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. When time is up, remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let the loaf cool for ten minutes. (Cooling is an important step. The baking process is not complete without it).
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