Art of the Smart

Good Artisanal Bread Recipe

This is just a good, bare-minimum, reliable bread recipe that can be done same day and with $10 worth of equipment.

I'm writing this to (a) remember my own recipe and (b) save someone else the trouble I had trying to learn how to make this. Books can't show you what to do like the internet can, but websites can get bogged down by adverts or the blogger's life story. I'm here to make bread, not hear about your kids. So this is the skinny on how to make a tasty, crusty, artisinal-style bread loaf. Once you have this process making you a good loaf on-demand, feel free to experiment!


A Few Notes

You don't have to follow these, but I strongly recommend it for best results.

Use weight, not volume. Measuring by cups is good for approximating, but flour settles differently for everyone and it will throw off your proportions to use volume instead of weight. You can get a kitchen scale at Goodwill for like $5. Here's mine. Bread turned out bad? Start with this.

Use a baking dish with a lid. Being able to "steam" the bread in its own juices for the first part of baking makes a big difference in the crustiness of the crust and the spongey quality of the crust. You can get a cheap pot and lid at the Goodwill for like $5. Here's mine. Seriously, Goodwill is the best for picking up a new hobby.

Don't have starter? Make some cheap. Starter is just REALLY yeasty, over-fermented bread. Take a pinch of powdered yeast and throw it in a jar with a quarter cup of flour and enough water that it turns into a paste. Wait until it looks like the starter image in this recipe. Bam; starter.

Change up the flour. This recipe is heavy on the all-purpose flour, but you can use other kinds also. Just remember that lower gluten means denser, chewier bread. So don't go making a whole loaf out of wheat bread unless you want to eat a brick. I've had the best success with 55% bread flour, 30% all-purpose flour, 15% wheat flour. If you want to keep 3 kinds of flour around. :P