WHAT EXACTLY DOES "ARTISAN" MEAN?

"Artisan" has more to do with the way the bread is made than the form. That is to say, ordinary white bread baked in a loaf pan qualifies if it is made simply and developed slowly. The whole thing started as a reaction against commercial bread-baking with lots of yeast and dough conditioners to make large quantities in a hurry.  

Low leaven and long ferment are sort of the founding principals of artisan baking. Obviously, there are zillions of variations in techniques, ingredients and shapes, but those are the keys.

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Basically, an artisanal bread is a bread made by a craftsperson using largely traditional techniques.

It is usually assumed that such a bread is largely made by hand, however many artisanal bakeries use mixers, hydraulic dividers, and molders so the amount of hands on craftsmanship is greatly diminished.

There is a lot of argument in artisan bakeries about where the line should be drawn between artisanal bread and artisanal-style bread. The bakers who do everything by hand draw the line differently than the bakers who use lots of automated help.

If you make a loaf of sandwich bread, shaping it by hand, putting it into a bread pan, and baking in your home, it is an artisanal bread.

Artisanal bread definitely does not have to be free form!

Terry Ramsey