I love to cook, and when I got a couple days off for my birthday, I knew what I wanted to try. Also, there was supposed to be this huge snowstorm, so if I was going to be housebound for a few days, I may as well get to cook. So, I made bread.
I’ve been a subscriber to Mother Earth News for a couple years, and a while back, they featured and article about artisan bread that could be made quickly. It was sprinkled with a promotion for the book, “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” and was all about this recipe that allowed average busy people to make fantastic, artisan bread. I was curious, but I never got around to picking up the book, until a few weeks ago.
I’d ended up buying a Groupon that was $10 for $20 from Barnes and Noble. So, when I was home right before Valentine’s Day, I picked up the book. I took it home, read it extensively, and then threw it on the bookshelf and went out to work. So, when I came home this past week, I decided it was time to make bread. Nonny bought me a pizza peel and a baking stone for my birthday, along with the flour and yeast, so I went to town.
If you like fresh baked, crusty bread, with a chewy exterior and soft interior, that’s not sandwich sliced, you need to buy this book. All you need to make the dough is unbleached all purpose flour, yeast, water, and salt (kosher/sea/table). you mix it up, let it sit, and throw it in the fridge if you’re not using it right away. Then, when you want it, you pull it out, grab a hunk, dust with flour, pull it into a ball shape, and let it rest to rise, for about an hour. Then, into a 450 degree over (Fahrenheit) and bake for a half hour. Then you have really great, crusty bread. Like this:
The top right one is what happens when you forget to add the hot water to steam the crust. Still, it tasted great
I made some the first night I was home, and we loved it. So, I made the rest of it up the next night, when I was making baked ravioli for my birthday. It was a hit with the family. The next day I decided to make more, since the dough I’d made only made 4 loaves, so I made rosemary garlic bread. Holy shit, it was good. We went right through it, so I baked up the last of it, and brought a loaf on the road.
Seriously, if you’re like me, and you love fresh bread, but you don’t have hours to invest in the process, buy Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I can’t promise it’s true artisan bread, as I’m neither an artisan or a professional baker, but it makes excellent loaves of fresh bread that are perfect with most anything. I did regular bread for salmon and baked ravioli, and rosemary garlic for corned beef and cabbage, and it turned out wonderfully.
Be careful when you bake though, or else this may happen to you. 450 degree over + forearm = ouch. this is after a couple days of healing too.