Saturday, January 17, 2009

Daily Bread

Am I overdoing it with the food posts? Sorry! I just love to cook and I love to eat and I can't help myself!!

This post is about bread. Home-baked bread that you can pop into your oven every single day, even if you think you don't have time! That's correct: I'm talking about "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go directly to the library or bookstore and grab a copy. You won't regret it!

Okay, so the premise is: you make up a batch of fairly soggy, wet dough. You store it in your fridge. Whenever you want bread, you hack off a hunk of dough, let it rise a bit and then bake it. The results are phenomenal. This is not your average home-baked bread. It's a crusty, complex loaf of bread, the kind you drive to a bakery to buy, and it couldn't be easier!

There have been some basic directions printed in Mother Earth News and Vegetarian Times, but if you like bread, you will want the whole book. You start with the basic white bread, then you can move on to whole grain breads, flatbreads, pizzas, and dessert and pastry breads. There are also some add-on recipes, like salads and sandwiches and other things you might want to serve with your bread, or make with your bread. Trust me, it's easy and delicious.

So, here are a few more details: you mix up the dough. For the basic recipe, it's water, yeast, salt and flour. You let it rise for about 2 hours and then you store it in the refrigerator. It will keep up to 2 weeks. You can make 4 1-lb loaves out of the basic recipe, but it is easily doubled. Whenever you want to bake, you pull out your dough bucket and cut off a grapefruit-sized chunk. You quickly shape it into a round and then let it rise at room temperature for about 40 minutes.
Then you slide it into your oven onto a pre-heated baking stone or sheet. You add some water to a pan in your oven to create steam, close the door, and let it bake for about 30 minutes. Then... Cool. Cut. Eat. Repeat.

The possibilities are endless!


Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful looking loaf. What a great discovery. I wonder if there's a way to adapt this method so that I could use my sourdough starter...


Cheryl said...

You could always give it a try! As the dough ages it does take on a more complex, sourdough-ish flavor, but still, the yeast is there. I'll browse my book...