Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Move over no-knead bread...

...Here comes a much easier, much better way!!!

So the other day (Thursday I think), I got into a conversation with a friend who said she had found a wonderful way to have delicious, artisan bread in five minutes a day. Of course I had to inquire about this. The skeptic in me figured she had utilized some no-no shortcut, like using store-bought dough or something like that. How wrong I was. It's all true... we really CAN have artisan quality bread with only five minutes of work!!! I didn't believe it until I was slicing it and eating the very best bread I've ever made. (And mind you, that doesn't say a whole heck of a lot... it's not like I've made a ton of bread in my life or I'm some sort of bread connoisseur. Nothing could be further from the truth!) But with this method, even my children can make bread... every single day! I made bread on Saturday and Sunday. And that DOES say a lot because I was doing all that baking in the middle of my 3-day stretch of 12-hour shifts. I typically don't do anything on my long work weekends but work and sleep.

The name of the book is called Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day, by Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois. I think these people have changed my life forever! The idea behind this madness is that you make up a big batch of dough, let it sit on the counter for a few hours, then keep it in the refrigerator. When you want incredible bread, you cut off a hunk of dough, let it sit at room temperature for 40 minutes, then bake it. That's IT. Did you see that I didn't mention kneading? Yeah... that's because you NEVER knead this bread! In fact, you handle the dough as little as possible. Your hands never touch the dough for more than a minute. I'm dead serious.

The dough keeps for up to two weeks in the fridge. It gets better with time. And it's forgiving... VERY forgiving. On Sunday, I woke up and was horrified to find that what was left of my dough was sitting in a couple of cups of WATER! Evan finally admitted that he had "helped" me. He didn't want the dough to get dry so he added water for me. (Thank you Evan... love you so much!) So I picked up the sopping, slimy mess and was heartbroken. I pulled it into two pieces and tried to sort of make a ball out of each piece. I set them both on my floured cutting board and covered them liberally in flour, hoping the moisture would pick up some of the flour. I flopped them into the oven and was shocked that they still came out perfectly.

So... each batch of dough makes four loaves (or two large loaves). These are boules... free form balls that you bake on a stone. No pan needed. I have made four loaves. And I now have a large bowl of dough in the fridge again for us to use this week.

My head is swimming with possibilities... cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, bread, and other things. My friend Kristi made another recipe out of the book. It's whole wheat sandwich bread. She said it's amazing. So I may whip up that dough next. Plus, I am dying to make brioche dough and peasant dough. All easy... all amazing... all very tasty from what I've heard!

Here are some photos from my very first experience making this!

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