Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cooking: Bread, Bread, Bread

Have I mentioned that I love bread -- I love making it, baking it, and all the family loves eating it. I don't use a machine (or even a mixer) but make it all by hand. I love to knead it and punch it and maul it -- especially when I'm in a fussy mood. I love the smell of it when it's rising and when it's baking. And nothing quite compares to warm, freshly baked bread with butter melting on top (unless it's bread, toasted the next morning with butter and sugar'n'cinnamon!).

Someone mentioned, either on 4real or one of the numerous blogs I'm constantly checking, a new book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. And I thought, yeah, right -- 5minutes and it tastes good???? Right!

But I tried the sample recipe for Simple Crusty Bread (adapted from the book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François)
Time: About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours’ resting and rising (but then you have enough bread for 4 or 5 loaves!)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
  • Cornmeal
1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
Yield: 4 loaves.
Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

This recipe works!

So now I have the book and I'm going through and the variations are wonderful -- adding a bit of different flours give different hearty breads while adding butter and a bit of sugar will make a more "American style sandwich bread". They have included recipes for pastries, desserts and full luncheon breads.

This is a great cookbook that goes beyond the ordinary to bring some good foods into my home. I like it!


MaryM said...

I saw this book recommended also and am curious - glad to hear it's has been successful for you. I need to check it out!

Carmen L. said...

Mary, I'll have to try this. I just bought The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum. It all looks beautiful if a bit complicated. Thanks for posting this. My husband got me a bread maker at a garage sale for $5, but I have yet to use it. I like the idea of making it by hand as well.

Mary G said...

Another great benefit of making the bread by hand is letting the kids help -- it's a great way to get out agression and the measuring of flour, etc is a great math lesson too ...

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