Sunday, January 18, 2009

Artisanal Bread

I heard about this book on the radio a few weeks ago: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It sounded awesome, and I'm here to tell you that it's so-far-so-good. Easy to make, good texture to the bread (sweetie says it needs more salt, but I don't agree). It's fun being able to have fresh-baked bread pretty much whenever you want, though the bit about waiting until it's cooled down causes some angst in these parts.

You get yourself a food-storage tub (6 qt for the master recipe, though perhaps 4 qt would be enough), where you mix everything up, and set it for an initial 2-hour rise:

 

After the initial rise, you put it in the fridge, where it hangs out and the yeasties do their fermenting thing on island time:

 

When you're ready for bread, you chop off a hunk using your bread knife (they say to grab a grapefruit-sized piece to have a 1 lb loaf, but the stuff is kinda sticky and hard to get out of the tub, so I ended up with a large orange), and shape it gently into a ball — do not knead it:

 

It rests for 40 minutes or so, and about halfway through, you put your baking stone and an empty broiler pan in the oven at 450:

 

After the loaf's beauty rest, you slide it onto the stone and pour a cup of hot water in the empty pan to steam up the oven:

 

It cooks for about 30 minutes, and you take it out and put it on a wire rack to cool. All the way.

 

Then (hooray!) you eat it:

 

I have to say, though, that I'm a guy who likes to work with his hands, so I'm not positive about this whole you-don't-have-to-knead-it aesthetic. I like to knead bread. It's fun. Perhaps, though, I'll save that for the pizza dough.

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