There’s been a revolution in our house – a bread revolution. We are now able to make consistently great homemade bread which we all love to eat.
The reason for this revolution is the “no knead” method and recipes from the book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.
The principle is that you start out with large amount of a slightly wet dough, mixing the ingredients rather than kneading. After the initial rise the dough can be stored in the refrigerator for a week. When you are ready to make a loaf, pull off a portion and shape it, allow it to rise and then bake. Delicious! Plus, there is more dough in the fridge at the ready for when you want to bake the next loaf.
I borrowed the earlier edition of the book from the library and liked it so much I bought the more recent edition for myself. I recommend the new edition as it has been updated to include metric weights (thank you very much), more photographs and more recipes.
Our favourite recipe is the half whole wheat loaf (see the recipe here). The basic white dough is also great.
After a few days in the fridge the dough does take on some sour notes, but it isn’t really a sourdough loaf.
The book is also full of special treat bread products made with the same basic method. Our plan is to make our own panettone for Christmas using the recipe in the book.
There is an engaging back story to the authors’ unique collaboration – they met at a toddlers’ music class and got talking about bread. An experienced pastry chef and an enthusiastic doctor / amateur bread maker and thinker, they pooled their expertise to develop this recipe and publish a book. They have gone on to publish other books including a healthy bread version and a gluten free version, and they have a website here.
Watch them demonstrate the whole wheat recipe from another one of their books in this video here [note, when they talk about “vital wheat gluten”, in Australia it is labelled “gluten flour”, packaged by brands such as Lotus and stocked in health food shops].
“Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day” does include some healthy recipes and a chapter on gluten free recipes. I had not made gluten free bread myself before, but I tried the whole grain version from the book. It worked! I found it a little dry, easily overcome by toasting and spreading with some avocado (or butter). The most difficult part of the recipe was finding the specialty ingredients and at a reasonable price, which is no doubt the story behind a lot of gluten free baking.
All the bread recipes in the book need some essential equipment, but this shouldn’t be hard in most kitchens. I have a large container for the dough which fits in the bottom shelf of our fridge. I use a pizza stone, an old tray in the bottom of the oven to hold water (the steam creates a humid atmosphere), and a bread board lined with baking paper rather than a pizza peel.
I did experiment with making the bread in the morning. The result of those experiments was that I’m afraid I don’t get up early enough to let the dough come to temperature and then rise properly for a morning loaf, but I have left the dough out overnight a few times. Although the dough becomes a little flatter when left overnight it is ready to bake in the morning and still turns out a tasty loaf.
One thing to note is that even though the recipes in the book include metric weights, you will still have to convert your temperatures from farenheit if you are used to cooking in celsius. Also, I have to say it takes me a little more than 5 minutes a day to make the bread, but it is still quite quick and much easier than other methods.
Consistent, tasty, easy loaves – the revolutionaries in this house are now eating bread as well as cake.
As an aside, I’d really like my hair to look like the author’s in the back dust jacket photo. What do you think?
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