Friday, January 29, 2010

My Bread Baking Apprentice

Still no store-bought bread around here... So I must give an update on what we've tried from our favorite bread books.

This bread was the start of it all.
And this comes from a book devoted to soups, of all things: Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure

In the intro to her chapter on breads, Anna Thomas mentions her delight with no-knead bread recipes, including those from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. So after enjoying Thomas' delicious Three-Grain loaf above, I gave the Hertzberg/Francois website a peek, and making my own bread became an instant obsession.

I've made the master recipe from their original book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking with perfect success every time. And trust me when I say I have a lot of interruptions, especially from my little apprentice. This is perfect success, despite letting the dough rise too long, forgetting to steam the bread or slash the top, neglecting to preheat while my little loaf is rising... Ah. I love perfection on my own terms. This is truly delicious white bread, the kind you drool over when it arrives at your restaurant table. (I did used to drool over bread, in my former life, when I could go out to eat occasionally.) We generally keep a tub of this dough in the fridge and turn it into a boule (round loaf) or rolls or ciabatta sprinkled with salt and rosemary. Mmm, mmm.

But we always have a refrigerated tub of multigrain (Three-Grain above) or whole wheat bread dough also. The master recipe from their follow-up book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients, also rocks. Just yesterday I threw the ingredients together in this tub.

I let it rise while I cleaned up my apprentice's fine work.

Two hours later, I had a tub of dough with a serious rise and minimal work involved.

Then I shaped my loaf and let it rise for 40 minutes, and felt awfully full of myself after remembering to slash the top.

I even remembered to steam the oven during a 30-minute bake, which produced this gorgeous crust and just the right accompaniment for a hearty stew. Who needs to go out to dinner, right?

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