I love artisan breads and when I saw this recipe in the Taste of Home November 2014 issue, I knew I had to try it. I have made it several times and more than one loaf at a time. You can add almost anything to make it different. We have loved all the variations I have made. Next time I am going to add garlic, yum!
This has become my favorite bread recipe. Love it!!! Hope you try and enjoy as well.
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. In a large bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups flour and salt. Using a rubber spatula, add yeast mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until smooth (dough will be sticky). (At times I have had to add up to 1/2 cup more, until it is the right consistency.) Do not knead. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise at room temperature 1 hour.
Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Pat into a 9-inch square. Fold dough into thirds, forming a 9x3-inch rectangle. Fold rectangle into thirds, forming a 3-inch square. Turn dough over and place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise at room temperature until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down dough and repeat folding process. Return dough to bowl; refrigerate, covered, overnight or for at least 4 hours.
Line bottom of a disposable foil roasting pan with parchment paper. Dust with cornmeal. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead gently 8 times; shape into a 6-inch round loaf.
Place in prepared pan; dust top with 1 tablespoon of flour. Cover pan with plastic wrap; let rise at room temperature until dough expands in size to a 7 1/2 inch loaf, about 1 1/4 hours.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Using a sharp knife, make a slash (1/4 inch deep) across top of loaf. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake on lowest oven rack for 25 minutes.
Reduce oven setting to 450 degrees. Remove foil; bake 25-30 minutes longer or until deep golden brown. Remove loaf to a wire rack to cool.
Note: At step 4, you can make this a Cheddar Cheese Bread by adding 4 oz. diced cheddar cheese. You could also make this a Rustic Cranberry & Orange Bread by adding 1 cup dried cranberries and 4 tsp. grated orange peel.
I have made this with cheddar, mozzarella, and the cranberries and orange. We have loved all variations.