Monday, November 9, 2009

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

I've known about this book for a while and happened across it in the massive cookbook section at my new library.

It seemed too good to be true. Recently Brett and I needed bread but were too lazy to go to the store, so we decided to make it from scratch. Well, luckily we thought of this four hours before dinner because that's about how long it takes to make homemade bread. There is a lot of rising and waiting involved. So I was excited to try the "revolutionary" new method of bread baking that will supposedly take five minutes.

Part of what makes this method take only "five minutes" of your time is that you mix up a giant batch on the first day and keep it in your refrigerator pulling off hunks each day. But the mixing of the dough doesn't take as long as usual either because there is no proofing the yeast, no kneading, no covering and rising (kind of), and no punching down the dough. Brett, of course, was dubious of this method. It really does take all the fun out of baking bread. If you have never punched risen dough, I highly recommend it.

I decided to go with the first recipe in the book since it seemed the most basic- Boule (Artisan free-form loaf.) I used the flour I had on hand which is not the kind they recommend. I also halved the recipe and therefore messed up slightly on the measurement of the yeast and the salt. I should have halved it ahead of time but instead I waited until I had my water already hot and ready to go. Needless to say, my math was rushed. Quick: What's half of 1 and 1/2 T? And don't say 3/4 T because I don't have a 1/4 T measure. Answer in teaspoons please. See? Not that easy. Afterwards, I thought it through and realized I was off by a 1/4 tsp.

Once you've stirred everything up, you put a lid on it and leave it on the counter for a couple of hours and then you move it to the fridge.

After a couple of days in the fridge, I decided it was time to bake. I pulled off a handful of very wet dough. It is supposed to be wet- that is what makes it able to sit in the fridge for up to two weeks. I pulled dough from the top down to the bottom on all four sides to form a "gluten cloak" I don't know if I did this right, but it seemed ok. Then you let it sit on a pizza peel for forty minutes.

This is where I take issue with the book's title. You still have to be thinking ahead to make this bread for dinner. This isn't a Pilsbury "pop it out of the tube and you're done" kind of thing. You have to let the dough rest, let the pizza stone heat up, bake the bread, and let the bread cool. A process I will say takes at least an hour and forty minutes and that's if you don't let the bread cool all the way. So yes, you spend about five minutes of active work, but you still have to have a good deal of forethought.

The bread turned out beautiful. It was slightly misshapen from my poor pizza peel skills, but golden and very "artisany" looking. The recipe said to let it cool completely, but we couldn't wait any longer. The outside was very hard. I ended up peeling the crust off and eating it first, saving the squishy, wonderful innards, or "crumb" if I'm being fancy. I prefer innards:) It was ok. Most, if not all, of the other yeast breads we've made were better. Brett thought the innards were like the texture of dumplings. They were soft and chewy, but kind of sticky and dense. The flavor was not all that great- I'll blame that on the flour.

I will be the first to admit that I did not execute the recipe entirely accurately, but it was not good enough to merit a second chance. Maybe this method would work for you, but for us it's back to old fashioned (fun) bread.


Zoë François said...

Your loaf is gorgeous! :)

Thanks, Zoë François

Kim in the Kitchen said...

It was beautiful! And our second loaf (where the dough had sat in the fridge for a few extra days) turned out even better. It was still pretty sticky, but had much better flavor. Thanks for stopping by!

~kelly marie~ said...

Maybe one day I will attempt to make bread because looking at your blog makes me so hungry!

Kim in the Kitchen said...

Kelly, I think this book might be a good fit for you. Their method is seriously easy and good for a first time bread baker. Check it out at the library like I did if you're not sure :)