Thursday, June 26, 2008


I just got my own copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I am in love! I had it out from the library last month just long enough to experiment with the challah recipe which was delicious but kind of funny looking. Only this week did I start with the basic bread recipe and!

Here's the deal: you make a wet dough, let it rise once, and set aside until needed in the refrigerator. For days, if that's what works for you. No kneading, no proofing, no careful timing. The downsides are these: the wet dough can be tricky to work and you need to have space in the refrigerator to store the dough. If you can handle those, then give this book a look because the upsides are many: delicious, wholesome bread on your timetable with virtually no effort whatsoever.

While I love fresh bread as much as anyone, I am not one of those cooks to rhapsodize over the meditative glories of kneading dough. I freely admit to using a bread machine for making my family's challah week after week for most of the last 10 years though of course I braid it and bake it in the oven for the characteristic shape. And the machine has been a workhorse for turning out loaf after loaf of hearty, whole grain bread which is perfectly serviceable for sandwiches and toast. But the machine simply can't do anything in the realm of crusty peasant breads. And all the recipes I've looked at over the years involving numerous carefully timed rises and knock-downs, sponges and starters, and complex baking equipment left me cold.

The other afternoon, after I bought the book, I put some water, yeast, flour, and salt in a big bowl, stirred it together, and went to work. While I was gone, the rest of my family pulled off chunks of dough and and made numerous pizzas, some with standard mozzarella and tomato sauce, others with roasted red peppers, basil, and goat cheese. My kids have never gone for homemade pizza but everyone declared this to be the best pizza ever. So there.

I took the last of the dough and made a quick baguette this morning which was almost immediately devoured. I considered posting a video of the knife slicing through the crackling crust but without the aroma it wouldn't have been complete.

I immediately mixed a new batch of dough in the same bowl without washing so as to collect all the old dough bits and incorporate their sour flavor into the new dough. I am looking forward to experimenting with many of the recipes in the book and I encourage you to give it a look, too. Normally I would post a recipe at this point, but I think it's worth reading the book to get the technique down.


Cheryl said...

I got the same book about 3 months ago and did some obsessive bread baking for 2 weeks straight. Divine.

I finally bought a big tub to hold the massive quantity of dough safely in the fridge, though now that I think of it I haven't made any bread since it arrived. Your post reminded me that it's time for another batch. Thanks~

Magpie Ima said...

Welcome to the blog, Cheryl. Yeah, I need to find a better container since I've been using the bowl for my salad spinner. I kind of need to have that functional this time of year.....