My Adventures in Artisan Bread Baking
One of my new years resolutions is to complain less and bake more. My family loves baked goods, as do I, but our budget just cannot make room for goods from Bread Poets and Patisserie on Fourth every single day. I claimed to hate baking (and I still despise the mess), but, just a few weeks since I made this decision, I am finding that I hate it less.
Back in the day of just one compliant baby I used to bake bread. I would knead it and set it to rise and bake it and we would enjoy that loaf of bread for 3 days or so. Now, I have six hungry kids. The youngest two are very, very cute. . .but not very compliant. A pan of brownies does not stand a chance to have a leftover for breakfast, and I’ve yet to have leftover bread to turn into bread pudding in a long time. I love, love, love really good bakery bread. I detest air bread. You know what I’m talking about. That store bakery bread that all tastes the same. . .like nothing.
When I wrote about baking more I got at least one recommendation for Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I had seen this book discussed before, but I kind of pooh poohed it. You see, I have an aversion to all things billed as “easy”. Sometimes I read that as “lazy” and sometimes I read it as “sub-par”. I really did not think that a bread dough that did not require kneading or fancy ingredients (the basic dough is truly just four ingredients!) could taste good.
But then some friends of mine chimed in on the comments of that post, singing the praises of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. These friends love food even more than I do…and a few of them even actually like to bake.
I had some Amazon gift cards on my account due to some Swagbucks searching so I decided to download it to my Kindle app on my iPad. After reading for about 30 minutes I felt ready to give some artisan bread a try!
I like that I can mix the dough up in bulk and it can sit in my refrigerator for a week or more. I just pull off what I need, shape it, let it rest and pop it into an oven. To be honest…I think this bread has taken me LESS than five minutes a day (not including the baking of course!).
So far I have only made the basic boule loaf that is featured in the book. It has been super easy to shape, and gives me a very tasty chewy loaf of bread with a great crispy crust. I have been making fairly small loaves, usually one for lunch for the babies, the Rev. and I, and then another at dinner for all of us to share. It tastes good enough that I could eat a whole loaf, but it is satisfying enough that I only need one slice (or maybe two) spread with some real butter.
The dough has proven easy for me to shape, and I’m even learning that the bread rises in the oven different ways depending on how I slash the top of the dough before popping it in the oven. I’m also learning to bake with steam and with a much hotter oven temperature than I am used to.
I’m pretty excited at my newfound skills, and don’t be surprised if I ply you with bread and butter next time you stop over for coffee!
Chime in! Do you bake bread? Have you used this method of baking? What has been your biggest success? Challenge? Are you feeling inspired to bake more for your family? You know I’d love to hear from you!