Several months ago I heard about this book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Basically, it showed you how to make artisan-quality bread with minimal effort. The “five minutes a day” part is a little misleading, but nevertheless the method is quick and easy. My experiences with bread baking have been restricted to my bread machine because I’ve been intimidated by all the kneading and rising and punching that real bread baking requires. As I mixed up a batch of the artisan bread dough yesterday, I thought that the process was way too easy and there was no possible way this was going to work.
Here is the dough right after I made it. Notice how wet it is:
I covered the bowl (you don’t want a tight-fitting lid, just something that covers it) and let it rise. Oh, and rise it did! It spooged over the sides a bit. Clearly I need to use a bigger bowl next time. Here is the same dough, two hours later:
At this point, it was time to stick the bowl in the fridge. The book recommends refrigerating the dough overnight or at the very least for three hours after you make the dough initially. This is because refrigerated dough is easier to handle. Naturally, I could not wait that long! After about one hour in the fridge, I lopped off my grapefruit-sized chunk and formed it into a ball, being sure to slash the top as directed in the recipe. Since I don’t own a pizza peel, I decided to use my wood cutting board and that worked fine:
It didn’t really rise as much as I expected it to and right about now was when I started to think that there was no way this was going to work. Imagine my surprise when I peeked in the oven and saw it looking, well, like I figured baking bread should look!
And the final result…
I could not believe how well this bread came out. The crust was nice and chewy. The inside was soft and “bready” (for lack of a technical term). It was perfect with our dinner — onion soup and an arugula salad with pears and walnuts with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
I have enough dough in my fridge for three more loaves. The dough lasts between 10 and 14 days and I’m going to try my best to make it stretch! I promised my dad a loaf when he and my mom come down next Tuesday and I don’t think I will want to make a new batch of dough between now and my C-section. I love this method of bread baking and hope to continue it. Normally we try to not eat too much in the way of carbs (though I’ve gone way overboard during my pregnancy — that’s got to stop soon). But the way I see it, if I’m going to enjoy some bread, I would much rather be the one making it so I know exactly what goes into it. The book also has whole-wheat and rye breads, both of which I’d like to try at some point.
I waited for this book for nearly two months (I borrowed it from the library and there was a huge wait list), but I have to say that it was worth it. This is one I might consider buying for all of the extra bread recipes. Good stuff.