Bread Baking Made Easier- Finally


I am the Yeast Whisperer. I have always had good fortune in the bread baking and pizza crust department, a special yeast savvy. If it is fed, warmed, then put to sleep in a dark, cool place yeast is a happy organism, sounds like me except for the cool place part. I once made an old family cinnamon bun recipe and burst into tears as I repeatedly pulled off chunks of dough to roll, cut and bake. When I went back to the bowl to make the rest of the buns, I found the dough had doubled in size- again! I was up until midnight and made enough buns to feed an Army, literally. My husband fed the whole Bravo Company. The lesson is this; never feed your yeast dough a whole can of sweetened-condensed milk.

I have observed a new trend hitting the food world; no-knead bread. I have made homemade bread for a few years now and I thought the key to good bread was the kneading. On further investigation this new craze has swept through the internet causing bakers to seek out Dutch Ovens, instant read thermometers, and Costco-sized bags of yeast. Apartment Therapy: the kitchn ran a few articles regarding the fad and I quickly took an interest. Mr. Bittman really started something big. I have not tried this yet but will as soon as I can save enough money for a 6 1/2 quart Dutch Oven, in the cobalt blue, to die for. These fascinating articles then led me to Jeff and Zoe’s book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I watched their simple video and figured I could try their bread as I had all the ingredients in my pantry.

The Master Recipe is very simple to make and did take under 5 minutes as promised. I set the container of dough on the counter as instructed and let it rise for 2 hours, then placed it in the refrigerator. Dough will continue to rise in a refrigerator. Ninty minutes prior to dinner I pulled off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough to let it proof in a warm place while preheating my oven to 500°. The dough doubled in size and baked up beautifully and what a crust(!); golden, crispy, gorgeous! I was pleased beyond chocolate that this process was so pain free and I still have enough dough in my refrigerator for 3 more loaves. The authors say that the dough will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Ooh- sour dough bread. I did follow the advice of some Amazon reviewers and did some things a little differently than the recipe. Yes, leave it to me to change things up a bit.

Here they are:
1. I preheated my oven with a baking stone set on the center rack for one hour.

2. I did not use a peel but did use a metal pizza pan with a piece of parchment paper on it to simply slide the dough on to the hot stone, corn meal can burn.

3. Once I placed the dough in the oven I turned the temperature down to 450°.

4. I do not have an instant read thermometer, so at the 20 minute mark I stuck my regular thermometer in through the middle of the loaf and left it there until the temp read 200°.

I am looking forward to baking the remaining dough within these next two weeks. This has worked out so well I have placed the book on my Amazon wish list. Hint-hint.

One other favorite bread baking book of mine is The Italian Baker by Carol Field.

For my second Bread Baking Article click here.

2 Comments

  1. Jeff Hertzberg
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 8:36 PM | Permalink

    Robin: Sorry I missed this post when you did it…I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I'm so glad our recipes are working well for you. Come visit us anytime at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com, where you can post questions into any "Comments" field, or click on "Bread Questions" on the left side of the homepage and choose among the options.

    Jeff Hertzberg
    http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com
    http://twitter.com/ArtisanBreadIn5

    Chicago tribune video: http://us.macmillan.com/BookCustomPage.aspx?isbn=9780312362911&m_type=2&m_contentid=119255#video

  2. biz319
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    Your idea of using parchment paper was brilliant!

    I won’t do it any other way moving forward – thanks for the idea!

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