|Various snapshots of bread that I have made over the past couple of years.|
A few years ago, I got the bug to start baking all of our bread. It was healthier and saved money. Every morning I would diligently measure ingredients into my bread maker and we would have fresh bread. Then, just as we were totally hooked on this, tragedy struck. My bread maker quit working! I didn't have money in my budget to replace it either. Faced with the option of returning to store bought bread, I decided that this was the time to master the art of bread making from scratch. With determination, I began to read about bread making techniques and actually figured it out. I made bread! (Imagine me yelling this just like Tom Hanks yelled "I made fire!" in Castaway when he finally succeeded.)
So, I began a new ritual. I would get up early, measure out my ingredients, mix them, and knead them (and knead them....and knead them....) and set the dough to rise. A couple hours later I would punch the dough down, form loaves and let this rise again. Then I could bake it. It took at least half a day of babysitting the dough and working with it. It took longer if I was busy and didn't get back to it right away. But when you smell that bread baking to perfection in the oven, it is all worth it. Oh that smell! I was a lot of work, though, and my family can devour a 2 pound loaf of bread at one meal.
This process continued for quite some time. Then I discovered the the best technique EVER for making bread. Seriously, it is revolutionary. I was reading a blog that referred to the book, "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day." I was intrigued and decided to see if my local library had it. It did so I checked it out. The book spells out a process of mixing up ingredients for 4 pounds of bread dough all at once in a big container, letting it sit on the counter to rise, and placing it in the refrigerator. When you want bread, you whack off a hunk, form a loaf, let it rise and bake it. Do you notice what is missing from this process. Think about it; I'll give you a minute...NO KNEADING. None! It also saves time because you make a lot of dough at once and then can use it to make a fresh loaf each day. And the bread is flipping fantastic. I can tell you, once I tried this technique, I won't ever go back to the long, tiring process that I was doing before.
Are you intrigued? The recipe and process for making the basic bread dough in the book is available online here: Back to Basics ~ tips and techniques to create a great loaf in 5 minutes a day. It may look a bit long and daunting at first, but I assure you, once you understand the process it is SO simple.
I now own the book and the newest version, "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day." I bake 2 large 2 pound loaves of bread at least every other day, sometimes even daily. I can manage this even when we are at our busiest. My point is, that if baking bread is something you desire to do, you can, too. I highly recommend giving this a try.
I will have to do a post on what has become my "go-to" bread dough from this book. I try to keep some on hand at all times and use it in a variety of ways. Stay tuned for that.