Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bread in Minutes

One of our wedding presents was a book from our Amazon registry, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Considering that Austin has had a record number of days - both consecutively and total - above 100 degrees, making bread isn't one of those things that I planned on doing immediately. However, that and an extra KitchenAid Mixing Bowl and the prospect of fresh bread every day with minimal effort means the kitchen has been hot and the bread very fresh the past few weeks.

While our new kitchen is bigger, it's still an apartment kitchen. This means the oven runs very hot, the appliances break with some regularity (this week: the garbage disposal), and I don't really have room to store things like a baking stone
or a full pizza peell

So I improvise: Since Mr. O and I are just a couple, I make smaller loaves and raise them on this bread board.. And instead of a baking stone, I use another one of our wonderful presents: a giant Le Creuset cast iron skillet. It crisps the bottom of the bread very well and serves the same basic purpose of aerating the loaf. Just remember to preheat it like a baking stone and you're golden (no pun intended.)

However, for this post I made the sandwich bread (which is done in loaf form). It took about three hours to rise because it's humid as all get-out and also I added some whole wheat flour to the basic dough recipe. It's all over the internet right now, but I would definitely recommend high-tailing it to your local library or bookstore and snagging a copy.

I learned with the help of this book that slashing a loaf doesn't require a razor (reference: my horrid Daring Bakers trial) but instead it is possible to sub a wet serrated knife. It's like buttah.

Finally, the book recommends storing the cut-side of most of the breads on the cutting surface for primo storage. Has anyone tried this? It looks a bit silly with a loaf.


Jennifer N. said...

Michael Ruhlman recommends baking bread in a cast-iron dutch oven with the lid on. Evidently he stole the idea from Mark Bittman. This helps you avoid the tedious moisture "flicking" part, and it works well for boules. I haven't tried it (yet!), but I thought it was ingenious.

lunettes said...

No-knead bread is great, and this book follows the same kind of application. Placing the lid on the dutch oven means there's less need for a steam bath in the oven (which is one of this book's recommendations).

However, with this method there's less of a chance of burning the tar out of your hands when taking out the cast iron/inserting the bread (because it's slid in on a peel or similar device) and there's no 12-24 hour wait for the bread to be ready - it's anywhere from 20-30 minutes, more if you add whole wheat.

450 degree cast iron is very, very warm on uncovered flesh.

Jennifer N. said...

I think you're just a wimp when it comes to 450 degree cast iron, really. ;)