October 28, 2009

So the BREAD!

The Bread. The bread was seriously good, especially after it had cooled enough to allow for a crispy crust but was still hot inside. If there were any leftovers I'd be eating them now but, well, there weren't. Especially after a certain seven year old snuck down and swiped the last slice a good hour after he was supposed to be in bed.

The book is called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It's full of delicious sounding recipes that I can see are not going to help my diet any, but hey, you only live once. Besides, who can resist Brioche? Not me. That's next on my list for sure.

Basically, the recipe makes enough for four one pound loaves that you mix all at once, let rise and refrigerate until you need it, up to two weeks. Then you cut off a chuck, do a little shaping, let it rise a but more and bake. Bread at your fingertips. My idea of heaven.

The "Master Recipe" is for a basic french bread that can be altered in a variety of ways, too numerous to go into, you'll have to go get the book for that, but for the basic, yummy round "boule" here's the drill

3 cups of lukewarm water (about 100 degrees)
1 1/2 T yeast
1 1/2 T Kosher salt
6 1/2 C All purpose flour (not sifted, they ask you to "scoop and sweep, meaning that you scoop out of your flour bin and gently sweep off the top so you don't compress the flour. Funny, that's how Ive measured flour for years, I always thought I was lazy but it turns out I was ahead of my time!)

Now they recommend using a pizza peel and a baking stone, neither of which I have, so I'll tell you how I did it and you can do it my way if you are tool challenged and their way if you aren't!

In a five quart bowl mix the yeast into the warm water, don't worry about getting it to dissolve. Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon, or, if it gets too difficult, with wet hands. You aren't kneading, your just trying to get a uniform wet dough consistency. This should only take a few minutes.

Cover the dough (not with anything that make the container air tight though) for about 2 hours, I let it rise for more like three because my house was FREEZING yesterday and it was a little slow on the rise. Pop it in the fridge until about an hour and a half or so before you want to eat. You can use it right away but it's pretty sticky so having it cold makes the next step easier.

When your ready to get going on it again, sprinkle flour or cornmeal on a piece of parchment and a little flour on the top of the bowl of dough. grab about a fourth of the dough and cut it off with a serrated knife. Form it gently and quickly into a smooth ball by pulling the edges under then plop it down on the parchment and let it rise for about 40 minutes. Halfway thorough the second rise (it will rise just a little, don't expect it to get huge) put a cookie sheet and a broiler pan into the oven (different shelves) and preheat both the pans and the oven at 450.

Dust the top of the ball of dough with flour and slash it with a serrated knife, I used the "scallop" style of slash marks but an "x" or a "tick-tack-toe" works too. Slide the parchment and the bread onto the hot sheet pan and pour a cup of hot water into the broiler pan, shutting the door quickly to trap the steam. The steam is the trick to the whole crusty outside, chewy inside thing it seems. Who knew? Bake for 30 minutes and then let the bread rest for a bit to allow for the crust to get nice and crispy.

The rest of the dough can be stored in a lidded (not airtight) container for up to two weeks. I actually made a half batch and have the remaining pound of dough in a yogurt container in the fridge which seems to be ideal. You can buy a larger food grade bucket and do all your mixing and storing in it if you have the room. Sadly, I don't. Which is probably good because then I wont be able to have the bread ALL the time, just MOST of the time.

Let me know if yours turns out well too, I'm curious to see what others think of this method, I think I might even like it better than "no knead"! Blasphemy!