Unfortunately, many people, including my daughters, feel that bread-baking is just too time-consuming and, sadly, many wind up baking a hard brick instead of baking bread with their first attempt.
I subscribe to Mother Earth News and, lo and behold, an issue arrived that featured a how-to on baking bread in five minutes. I know; I found it hard to believe as well but the authors, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois of Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day explained how they came up with that time-frame: the initial time to prepare the “refrigerated tub” is about 20 minutes and it takes five minutes to pinch off some of the dough and bake it as needed.
Who wouldn’t love fresh-baked bread anytime they want?
As a seasoned bread-baker, I will admit the recipe and technique turned my own bread-baking method upside down. There is no kneading, the dough can be saved for up to two weeks in the fridge (remaining dough can be used to make sour dough bread in the next batch), and it’s incredibly economical. To top this off, the bread comes out light, airy, and delicious every time. Furthermore, it’s healthy. The primary flour used is whole wheat. Using whole-wheat bread flour is normally somewhat tricky to keep the bread from baking “dense” and tough. With this artisan bread recipe, forget it: you will have the most incredibly moist and fluffy whole-wheat bread you could ever dream of.
The technique is super-simple that I had my oldest granddaughter whip up a tub for her mother, who insisted she still wouldn’t have the time. Baloney.
The technique involves a decent-sized plastic container with a lid that will fit in your refrigerator. You put all the ingredients into the tub and STIR—not knead—until the flour is moistened. You put the tub into the fridge overnight (it’s easier to handle if this is your first crack at it). When you want some bread, you tear off the desired amount or sizes (such as for rolls), and let it sit with some wax paper over it while you’re heating preheating the oven. Now here’s where the real secret is for getting the bread to bake “light and airy”: you put a baking stone, along with a pan for water under it, in the oven while it’s preheating. You place the dough which, by the way, doesn’t really rise during its “rest time” during preheating, on the stone and pour water into the pan below it. Steam is instantly created and you must close the oven door quickly before a lot of it escapes.
The Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Dayis an incredible book for bread-bakers and bread-eaters alike, and the Master Recipe is free at Mother Earth News.
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