Mrs. Sell's Blog of Household Management

Easy homemade bread

My subject today is the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

I have never been much of a bread maker. Although I love homemade bread, I was always intimidated by all the steps and waiting and mess. I always wanted to try it, though, which is why I jumped on this book.

The authors, a scientist and a chef, have discovered a way to make bread dough that requires no kneading and will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Once you mix it up, whenever you want bread (or pizza dough, or whatever), you just cut off a piece of dough, shape it, let it rest for about 40 minutes, then bake it. It’s amazing!

This is my first attempt:

I used the first basic recipe in the book, for the French-style boule. It’s basically white French bread, and all you need is all-purpose flour, coarse salt, yeast, and water. I can’t reproduce the recipe now for copyright reasons; I’ll see if I can get permission to post it here later.

One thing that is intimidating about this book is the list of equipment. The ingredients are pretty basic (although they do include recipes for fancy sandwiches and other things to have with the bread), but they do recommend a lot of specialized bread-baking items. I admit I cheated and made a lot (if not all) of substitutions for the equipment. To wit:

1) oven thermometer (I already had one; my husband is OCD about the oven temperature.)

2) pizza peel (Nope, used the tiny wooden cutting board you see in the picture. For bigger projects, I’ll probably try using the back of a cookie sheet.)

3) bread stone (Uh-uh. Used afore-mentioned cookie sheet. Worked fine.)

4) broiler pan (I had no idea what this is. Apparently some oven attachment to use with the broiler? I figured I could just use a jelly roll pan, then read somewhere to use a muffin tin; more metal contacting the water means better steam.)

5) bread bucket (I used a big, lidded plastic bowl my husband had leftover from a work thing.)

They call for many other things (a heavy stand-mixer with dough hook would be useful for really big batches), but they readily admit that these substitutions won’t usually make that big of a difference. If you wanted truly professional-level bread, then buy the professional-level gear. If not, you can probably make do with what you have around.

The most significant boo-boo I made this time was using a yeast packet that was about two years old. Packets of yeast are generally way more expensive than buying it in a jar, and I just left this one out in a cabinet at room temperature, so it’s amazing it worked at all. The dough itself didn’t puff up very much, but, as you can see in the picture, there are plenty of big holes in the bread itself. I think the taste would be very much improved by fresh yeast, but this’ll have to do until I can make it to the grocery store!

I’m going to try making a calzone for dinner tonight with the rest of my dough, so stay tuned for update about that and the other types of bread I want to try! (There’s a recipe for pita! Oh, please, please, please work! 🙂


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