Wednesday, March 27, 2013

adventures in bread making

Portugese Broa Bread  -  a rustic bread made with cornmeal. The hubster's favorite!
Remember back when I made some frugalish resolutions a few months ago? Well, I'm human and my sewing machine might still be forgotten and forlorn, but my pizza/bread stone is well-loved! I've used a lot of flour and yeast these past few months, but I've also saved quite a bit by cutting out store-bought bread.

My favorite bread recipes thus far come from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. I had a copy out from the library for nine weeks (don't worry I renewed it twice!), then I decided I raid mom's cookbook library and borrow hers. She's worried I'll keep it forever. Don't worry mom - just until I can put it on my birthday list!
what you might not be able to see is that this bread is slightly lopsided, but it still tasted almost! perfect sourdough flavor!
The five minute method is multi-stepped, but relatively simple. Once you get the hang of the basic process, bread making is super easy!

Here's the basics:
1. Mix all the ingredients together.
2. Allowing it to rise for about 2 hours at room temperature
3. Put it in the refrigerator for baking another day in a covered, but not air-tight container
4. Bring the dough out the fridge and dust the surface with some flour
5. Pull out a one pound ball (grapefruit size). Shape it quickly then let it rest on the counter (the amount of time varies based upon the type of flour used in the recipe)
6. Pop that little dough baby in the oven with a pan of hot water steaming on another shelf and let it bake until it's nice and golden. Don't open the oven door until it's pretty much done - usually after about a half hour of baking.
7. Let it cool on a rack before cutting
8. Use for a paninis, dip in soup, or slather that baby with butter and enjoy!
buttermilk bread: perfect for paninis and french toast (smothered in a maple peach sauce and whipped cream, of course! I'm sorry that the picture is missing...I inhaled instead of taking the time to drool over it through the camera lense...whoops)
the way dinner is meant to be!
Why do I love this method? It's easy, requires little effort, but yields the most delicious bread with crisp crusts, tender crumbs, and perfect flavor. I can mix the ingredients together, go run some errands, come home, and pop the bowl in the fridge for baking for another day. Then when I'm ready to bake, I pull the amount of dough out that I need, form it into a ball, let it rest, and then stick it in the oven. I especially love that one recipe yields enough dough for three to four loaves. If I get really ambitious and have a free afternoon, I'll make a few loaves and then freeze them. Then when I want fresh bread for dinner, I just pull it out in the morning and it's ready to be warmed for dinner that night. Homemade bread does require some planning, but it's totally worth saving $2-$5 a loaf. Plus there aren't many things as satisfying as dipping a chunk of homemade artisan bread into bowl of warm and comforting tomato soup on a rainy day.

And because I recently had a request for step-by-step photos I'll be back next week with a photo breakdown of the bread-making process in my kitchen. Until then check out the blog of the two creators of these wonderful recipes. Hats off to them for creating a homemade bread process that's accessible to busy home cooks!

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