Last week, I learned to make bread!
I have never had much interest in being a baker, per se. I like cooking, not baking. Baking is such a science, with exact measurements and temperatures (and it seems so much easier to screw up). Cookies and zucchini bread seem do-able – but making REAL bread from scratch just seemed so daunting.
But, my friend Myste recently told me that she had found an amazing recipe for artisan bread – no kneading required! She also assured me that the recipe was easy and delicious (I was dubious, of course. Like I said…bread seemed impossible). Myste kindly invited myself – and our friend Cate – over last week to teach us how to make bread. The recipe is from a cookbook entitled “How to make bread in five minutes a day or less.” I will mention that the title is slightly misleading. Bread takes MUCH more time than five minutes. However, all that time is made up of rising/resting time or baking time. The actual work that you put into the bread is probably around five minutes. I wish that a loaf of bread could be whipped up in 5 minutes – but then again, where’s the fun in that? Maybe the reason this bread tastes SO stinking good is that a good bit of time and prep go into it? (Nich did actually say that this is the best bread he’s ever eaten. Its that good.)
Since the recipe is quite exact, there is no need to give you my version of it, so I will simply post a link to it and then post a few of my own observations.
Link (From Global Gourmet): The Master Recipe: Artisan Free-Form Loaf
*Note, this is a ‘free form artisan loaf’. You can shape it however you want – I have been making into rounds (much like a sour dough round which are used for bread bowls) or an elongated loaf (like a french batard or french bread). I
*The recipe says to cook the loaf on a pizza stone. I don’t have a pizza stone, so I’ve been baking it in a glass or ceramic baking dish, which works great. I was told that the bread shouldn’t bake on a metal sheet, but I am not actually sure if that is true. However, I am going to invest in a pizza stone, because sliding the uncooked dough onto a pizza stone would be much easier than a baking dish with sides.
*You don’t HAVE to cook the bread with ‘steam’, but it makes for a crunchier crust. And, cooking with steam simply means putting a small (oven-proof) dish of water in the oven – that’s all you have to do!
*Do not be afraid or thrown off by the term “gluten cloak”. If you scroll down the linked recipe page, they describe exactly what a gluten cloak is.
*The version Cate, Myste and I made was a ‘peasant loaf’. We simply substituted 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of Rye flour for one of the cups of white flour. That is the great thing about this bread – it is a base recipe, but there are many variations. I am going to attempt Rye bread sometime this week!
I must say, I’m having a blast making bread. Since you can make one big batch and save the dough in the fridge (for 11 days), you can have fresh-baked bread multiple times in a week! For this very reason, this recipe is also super dangerous. Why does bread have to be so delicious and yet full of so many calories??? But, hey, I’m a firm believer that everything is great in moderation. Plus, this bread doesn’t have any strange preservatives or fillers (like most bread you find in the grocery store). Its all natural, hand-made, carb-o-licious goodness. And I’m all for it.