This French loaf is soft inside with a light, golden crust on the outside – just the way good bread is supposed to be.
“Perfection itself is imperfection.” – Vladimir Horowitz
I never thought of myself as an artisan.
However, when I discovered The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, I realized that the term ‘artisan’ was more than just a fancy marketing term.
Artisan Bread is a truly fabulous book for those interested in making their own bread as well as for artisans looking to develop their craft. 365 immersive pages are floured with pro-tips, illustrative recipes and delicious anecdotes to refining the perfect loaf.
The book opens with the most basic and standard bread you can make, the Boule, otherwise known as the Artisan Free-Form Loaf.
Yes, it is exactly as you would imagine. A bread formed by hand without kneading and barely any shaping.
It doesn’t get any easier than this.
I made some minor adjustments to the original as most of the recipes in the novel are modified to yield enough loaves to last throughout the week, one of the many perks to having this book in your collection. Since this was an early attempt and there were other breads I was interested in trying, I scaled back the recipe to suit my needs.
For extra eye-appeal, gently slash the top of your loaves right before baking.
When the loaves are golden on the outside and firm to the touch you know they are done. Let them rest completely on a cooling rack before slicing into them.
The interior should be unbelievably soft and springy.
I won’t deny our guests thought this was the best homemade bread they tried…better than the bakery fresh loaves, and we finished off the entire loaf that night.
Serve it with herb and garlic infused dipping oil, which I also included in the recipe box below.
Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf)
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 2 loaves 1x
For the Boule:
- 1½ cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- Cornmeal for dusting
For the Garlic & Herb Infused Dipping Oil
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
- 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and basil blend
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
For the Boule:
- In a tall plastic container fill 1½ cups warm water about 100 degrees F.
- Add yeast and sugar then stir and leave to proof for about 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of your stand mixed, whisk together flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add your yeast mixture.
- With the dough hook attachment, blend the flour and yeast together until a soft sticky dough forms.
- Cover and place in a warm dark place. I pre-heated the oven to it’s lowest temperature then turned it off. I covered my bowl and place the dough in the warm oven to rise for about 2 hours.
- Once the dough has risen, flour the surface and gently turn the dough over onto a well floured surface. DO NOT punch the dough down.
- Divide the dough with kitchen shears into two loaves.
- Quickly cloak and shape the dough without kneading it. To do so, be sure to sprinkle extra flour on top of your dough.
- Gently stretch the the surface of the dough to the bottom on all four sides. Note that some of the flour will fall off, but that’s fine. This flour is to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, not to be incorporated.
- The loaves should be smooth on top but the bottom will be bunched from pull the dough over. This will flatten out during the resting and baking process.
- Lay the prepared loaves on a pizza peel or baking stone dusted with cornmeal.
- Leave the loaves to rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Before baking, gently slice the top of each loaf . Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
- Remove the bread and let cool on a cooling rack.
For the Garlic & Herb Infused Dipping Oil:
- In small oven proof bowl or ramekin, combine all the ingredients for the dipping oil.
- In the last 5 minutes of the bread baking, place the oil in the oven.
- Once the oil is bubbling, remove and let cool.
- Serve alongside the fresh bread.
*Prep Time does not include Inactive Prep Time.
*Recipe adapted from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
- Serving Size: 1