Monday, January 12, 2015

Artisan Bread in five Minutes a Day

   My daughter Rachel gave me this wonderful new cookbook for Christmas. It is titled "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" , written by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I've gotten three new cookbooks in the last month or so and I'm having a little trouble absorbing them as fast as I would like.  However, I love good sour dough bread so I was very anxious to try some of the recipes in this book.

   The main thrust of this book is that a relatively wet bread dough will store well in the fridge for several weeks. This method offers the flexibility of making very nice artisan bread throughout that two week period on fairly short notice.  This is somewhat similar to a book by Peter Reinhart, also an advocate of refrigerating dough. However, these authors seem to have further simplified the process. I tried it out for the first time yesterday.

     I had mixed up the dough on Saturday morning.  All I had to do was put the yeast in luke warm water, mix that with the dry ingredients until all of the flour was incorporated into the dough, let the dough rise for a few hours, then put it into the fridge. The dough is then available to be baked into bread any time over the next two weeks.  There was absolutely no kneading. I mixed it by hand with a wooden spoon in a big plastic container with a lid. I let it rise for two hours with the lid cracked. At the end of the rise I put the container in the fridge and I was done.  The active bread making literally took less than ten minutes.

   We had Stake Conference yesterday so I was home from church at 12:30 pm rather than the usual 5:30 pm.  I had nothing particular on my plate until 6:30 p.m when I was hosting a meeting for the family history consultants in our ward. I had committed to make some lemon meringue pies for that little event so I was going to be in the kitchen anyhow. It seems like a good time to bake bread too.  This time all I had to do was to shape the loaf, let it rest for about 40 minutes, then bake it in the oven at 450 degrees for about a half hour. It turned out very well. Linda pronounced it to be delicious.  My only mistake was in slicing the top of the boule loaf I made. I cut a cross into the top to help it expand better in the oven. I didn't cut the second slice as deeply so the loaf didn't rise evenly in the oven. Instead it blew out a little to one side. I am still very excited  that my first effort turned out so well. I'm now looking forward to making homemade sourdough bread bowls.

My first effort from Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day
    This is book is an update to an earlier edition. I had actually looked closely at this book at Powell's when I was visiting Rachel last fall. I almost bought it, but instead bought an Italian version of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". Talk about having your cake and eating it too. I was really tickled when I opened Rachel's Christmas gift and found the book I had almost purchased at Powell's in Portland. I wonder if she was stalking me at the bookstore?

They truly are the gift of California Sunshine

     On the subject of Christmas gifts, when Linda and I returned home from visiting Lia in Maryland I found a package waiting for us on the back deck. It turned out to be a box of oranges from my younger brother Guy and his wife Heidi.  They live in Napa, California and have both an orange tree and a lemon tree in their back yard. The oranges are so amazing. They are so much more flavorful than what passes for oranges in the grocery store. They really aren't even the same fruit.  There is only one down side to this lovely gift.  After they are gone, we won't be able to bring ourselves to buy oranges in the store for about six months.

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