I bought the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day several years ago after reading a review about it in the paper. It changed my whole outlook on bread baking!
The premise behind the technique is that you make a high moisture dough and you don’t knead it. In the beginning of the book the authors describe The Secret…mix the ingredients from their recipe into a container all at once and let the dough sit for two hours. Then the dough is ready to shape and bake or refrigerate the dough and use it over the next couple of weeks. When you want fresh bread, take some dough from the container, shape it, let it rise and then bake it!
I think it’s worth buying or borrowing the book to understand why it works, see the illustrations and to read the chapter Tips and Techniques but it’s not essential.
I have made several of the recipes in the book but the one I return to over and over is Bran-Enriched White Bread. Here is the recipe:
Makes four 1-lb loaves.
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
3/4 cup wheat bran
5 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
cornmeal for the pizza peel
- Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5 qt container with a lid. (I use my kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook for this step)
- Mix in the remaining dry ingredients with a spoon or heavy-duty stand mixer.
- Allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, about 2 hours
- The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise or put it in the frig with a lid (not airtight) and use over the next 14 days
- On baking day: dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1lb piece (about the size of a grapefruit) Shape into a ball, allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.
- Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 F with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on another shelf.
- Sprinkle the loaf with flour and make slashes in the top of the bread.
- Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of tap water into the broiler tray and close the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes.
Don’t let all the instructions intimidate you. Once you have made it a few times, you get into a routine and it really is quick and delicious. It disappears very fast but if you have some leftover, it makes excellent toast. HAR