Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our Daily Bread

Ever since we came back from France, I’ve become a bread snob. One of the pleasures of life over there was our daily quest for fresh, crusty bread. Coming home, I didn’t even want to bother with store-bought bread. I’d seen the light; I knew what was possible! I decided to try to bake my own, but wasn’t sure how to work it in to my already overzealous list of to-dos.

And then I stumbled upon Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. The title aroused my curiosity, but I was very skeptical of the results. I came home and Googled the book and found review after review of people saying they’d tried it and the bread was fantastic. And it is! We’ve had amazing, fresh baked bread every single day since I read about it. Here’s the deal:

You spend a couple minutes mixing up a batch of dough (basic recipe below). You literally just dump 4 ingredients into a bowl and stir; no kneading. Then you put a lid on the bowl, put it in the fridge and cut off a piece each day (or whenever you want) to bake. The dough will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge and it actually does improve with age. The only gadgets you need are a baking (or pizza) stone, which helps the bread develop a nice crust, and a pizza peel (which is handy, but not really necessary).

Here’s a step-by-step of my recent batch:

And the delicious result:

I’ve made it several times now, including my own variation of subbing whole wheat flour for one-third of the white, and it’s turned out great every time. There’s a video that the authors of the book have put up on You Tube showing how it’s done in real time. I definitely suggest watching it once before you start.

So, try it! You can just use the recipe below and have fresh baked bread for breakfast tomorrow! Let me know what you think.

Basic Bread recipe:
  • 1.5 T yeast
  • 1.5 T kosher salt
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 6.5 cups flour
Stir until just mixed. Dough will be sticky. Cover and let rest for at least a couple hours (I’ve made the dough at night so it can rest overnight). When you want some, sprinkle on some flour so you can handle the dough and slice off a grapefruit-sized piece. Pat into a ball, let rest on some cornmeal for 40 minutes. Bake on a pizza stone at 450 degrees for 30 minutes (place a pan of water in the oven, under the pizza stone). Watching the video once will clarify all this.

(Note: some of the links that I’ve added here will take you to places on where you can purchase the items mentioned if you want. If you do so, Amazon will give me a little piece of the action, and thus will begin the experiment to see if I can average at least a dollar an hour for time spent creating the content for this site! This may be something I continue to do here, but will never have anything to do with why I write about something or what I have to say about it.)

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I bought this book about a month ago and have made the basic recipe and a couple others. Love it - never thought baking bread would be so easy !