Thursday, January 14, 2010

Trial #1 of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

The Bread Challenge ensues...

One of my first blog posts addressed my recent wonderment on the topic of homemade bread. The question at hand was whether or not the greatest thing since sliced bread was actually homemade bread (
Sunday Therapy)?

The answer is YES! Since my initial Focaccia experiment in Sunday Therapy Part 1, Session 1, I have slowly expanded the types of breads attempted to include...

My groovy parents are the best Santas out there...among the overly generous bounty of gifts, were a few more cookbooks to fuel the blog and baking challenges:

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg MD and Zoe Francois

Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, The second book by Jeff & Zoe

Baking by James Peterson

At my husband's request I began with Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day.

In case you have not heard of these books, they are based on the notion that with only 5 minutes of active prep time a day you can make fresh bread. How does this work you ask? Well the authors provide a no-knead dough recipe that can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The idea is you just grab some of your pre-mixed dough from the icebox, shape, rise briefly and bake.

Now think about this...fresh bread in 5 minutes a day! SUPER Homemaker would be more like it. How could I resist the temptation to not only conquer my bread quest, but also be that person who can whip up a fresh loaf for last minute dinner parties!?!

OK, now let's slow down is part of my expressive nature to get a little carried away at the onset of a new challenge/idea. In order to get a feel for things, I wanted to first try some of the actual recipes out.

The risen dough for Cheddar Bread from the book. There is enough here to make 4 x 1lb loaves!

An interesting side note - Author Zoe at one point mentions she grew up in the NEK (Northeast Kingdom) of VT. For this cheddar bread recipe she mentions she grew up near Shelburne Farms...since the two are no where near one another I'll have to assume either 1) she moved around the state quite a bit or 2) she's full of you know what and wrote that to endorse her book/recipe.

OK, now back to our regularly scheduled program...

Since I was planning to give these to friends that very day as gifts, I shaped up half the dough into two loaves and allowed them to rise again. The remaining dough went into the fridge (and is still there...test #2 of the book!).

Once time has passed, the surface is floured in preparation for...

Yup, Ms. Fancy Pants here is learning to make bread that is visually appealing as well as tasty!!

Experienced bread folks might say at this point: jeez, those look awful! In my own defense, I also received a super nice (and sharp) bread knife from my in-laws this year. It was soooo smooth slicing the dough that I accidentally cut a little too deep, which you'll see in the finished product.

Ready for the oven (btw all this bread is cooked on the baking/pizza stone)!

While making the Cheddar Bread dough, I also made the one for French Boule. The Boule is the holy grail for the book and termed The Master Recipe. As the basic model for all breads in the book, I assume learning to make this comfortably will enable me to pursue other types.

Not the prettiest looking loaves.

First time for everything right?!?!

Now, are you ready to see the finished products???

Cheddar Bread, Loaf 1 - Full Frontal

Loaf 1 - Ariel View

Loaf 1 - Side Profile

Loaf 2 - It's good side.

Loaf 2 - It's other good side.

Ahhh, the happy couple...of Cheddar Bread Loaves.

The WHOLE FAMILY of bread from the day.

While not the best looking, the baguettes tasted wonderful. A of B&A mentioned she really liked their crust (this was my New Year's Eve Bread). I also took a loaf of each to JCx2's party that night as well. They too seemed to enjoy them and put some of each out with their cheese selections (it is possible they could have just been making a friendly gesture).
My only comments on the Cheddar Bread are 1) not enough cheese, 2) it was a little denser then I had expected and 3) easy with the knife!
For the baguettes, I need to work on forming the loaves and a more even cooking in our oven.
Overall I was happy with the outcome and will continue to pursue the idea that I can have fresh bread in 5 minutes a day.

Onto the next one!

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