Jumping on the bread baking bandwagon

artisan-breadI’ve just put in a request at my local public library for Artisan Bread in Five Minutes, a book I’ve seen a lot of bloggers talking about.  It’s positively viral, but in a good way. I read Green Bean, who got the idea from Tammy over at Girls Wear Blue Too.  Then there’s Taste and Tell, and Lynn at Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures (who loves the challah recipe from this book)…I appreciate that so many bloggers are not only spreading the word about this bread but also sharing their own experiences, recipe divergences, and shortcuts… 

The fact that it’s already checked out from the library is both encouraging (because that indicates it’s in demand and thus hopefully a good thing) and sort of a pain in the neck, because I’m Instant Gratification Girl all the way.  But then, as I so often say, gotta love the internet.  The master recipe for this five minute bread is actually available online in several places, including here. So I’ve got my first batch going up in the kitchen.

This is very promising–the basic premise is that you mix up a batch of sort of wet and gooey knead-less dough and store it in your fridge for up to two weeks.  Periodically you just hack off a piece the size of a grapefruit, let it “rest” a bit on the counter, and then bake-steam it for 30 minutes into a nice fresh freeform loaf.  The dough in the fridge apparently starts its own natural “sourdough” process over the two weeks and gradually develops different flavors as it ages.  I’ve been becoming less and less thrilled with my bread machine lately, since it seems to give a bread that’s sort of dry and has a not-too-pleasant crust.  So I’m looking forward to this…

VERDICT: THE PROCESS–Well, there’s good and bad, with the positives dramatically outweighing the negatives. The good: it was really easy to mix up the master batch of dough, and that itself only took a few minutes and not much mess.  And after the master batch did its initial rise, it was incredibly easy to yank off a chunk and shape it into a loaf.  The master batch itself wasn’t the gooey kind of dough the recipe led me to expect; it was lots flour-i-er than I thought it would be, and not too wet.  And I did follow the recipe well.  Maybe my flour was too packed down or something? Anyway, next time I might try a little less flour.  But the ease of taking refrigerated dough and turning it into fresh hot bread without mess and deep involvement is lovely.

The down side–well, yeah, you really do only spend about 5 minutes actively doing anything for making bread.  But to actually get it onto the table you have to, after you spent 2 of the 5 minutes making your loaf, let it rest for 40 minutes.  And then 20 minutes into that 40 you have to turn on the oven.  And then you put it in (taking maybe 2 minutes) and bake it for another 30.  So while you’re not actually working on the bread but a few minutes, you still have to stick around and pay attention to make it work.  Which means that there’s no coming home at 5:30pm and having hot fresh bread on the table at 6:00; you have to start a good bit more than an hour before you plan to take it out of the oven in order to make this happen. But that’s a fairly small downside for this really nice, really easy fresh bread. I mean, it’s not like there are any other ways to come home at 5:30 and have fresh bread at 6:00, unless you stopped at Whole Foods on the way or something. 

VERDICT: THE BREAD–all I can say is a big “omnomnomnom” about this bread.  It’s moist and crusty and tastes absolutely lovely.  It’s a little salty (Tammy over at Girls Wear Blue Too says she pretty much always reduces the salt amount, and I think I’ll try it next batch too) but still absolutely wonderful. 

The recipe says that the dough’s flavor evolves into a gentle sourdough as it sits in the fridge; I don’t know how many days this batch will last before it all gets baked and eaten, but we’ll see how that part works out…

Aha! And I just got the email from the library that the book is in. I’ll see what it’s like, and then that may be one I have to buy…

Now I have to go eat some more bread…

(UPDATE: I did a subsequent post on my further adventures…)

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Posted on September 25, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Glad you tried it. I’ve now made two batches of the regular bread, one bagels (I think I’ll try the pretzels soon) and one of the peasant. For the first ever batch I made, I only had whole wheat flour so I made it what that and personally I likes me a little more crunch and heartiness. The plain white floured bread was a little boring to me. Anyway, this whole thing makes me feel like I can bake anything. It’s very economical and I hardly buy any baked goods any more. Enjoy.

  2. OUUU today is my day off, and it’s raining… perhaps I will be all domestic and make some!!! 🙂

  3. greenmomintheburbs

    Ooh, go for it and let us know how it turns out! It’s really yummy and easy stuff…I’m going to have to watch out that I don’t go crazy and gain ten pounds, I can tell already!

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