Archive for: artisan bread
It was just a few years ago when home bakers discovered the technique of baking artisan breads at home with almost no kneading and less than five minutes of work. There were many cookbooks put out on the topic, including a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg MD and Zoe Francois. That same pair has now expanded on that first book in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, a cookbook that offers readers 100 new yeast bread recipes that include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and even a variety of gluten free options.
The technique for the basic five minute artisan bread involves making a very wet dough and allowing it to rise very slowly with minimal handling, to develop enough gluten to give the bread a beautiful texture and to develop the flavor of the finished loaf. The basic technique for the breads in this new volume is the same, with some tweaks here and there to accommodate some of the new ingredients in the breads. There is one master recipe presented towards the beginning of the book and most of the recipes are built around that, but the actual time needed for each variation will vary and the flavor of the finished products will definitely give you a lot of variety. The recipes are well written and easy to follow along with, with notes about ingredients that you might not be familiar with and how to use them. Many of the recipes make a big batch of dough, but they can be baked off over the course of a couple of days, leaving you with a steady supply of freshly baked bread with no extra effort.
The book opens with a discussion of both the health benefits of adding whole grains to your diet (as one of the authors is also a doctor who specializes in preventative medicine), then jumps into a discussion of the types of ingredients used in the book and techniques that will make the bread making process go smoothly. The recipes range from baguettes to pizza dough, with both sweet and savory breads to choose from. The gluten free chapter is the smallest (whole grain breads is the longest), but covers a nice range of recipes and presents plenty of options, whether you regularly eat gluten free or just want to experiment with new types of bread.
The book isn’t intended for health food fanatics (although they could certainly use the book, too) because there are plenty of recipes that use butter, sugar and some white flour. The book is intended to present some healthier options simply by adding healthy ingredients to already great breads – not compromising on flavor, texture or anything else that makes a homemade bread so delicious. Eating healthy is, in large part, about moderation, variety and using high quality ingredients and you’ll find breads that can meet those criteria, fitting perfectly into both your busy schedule and your diet, in this book.
Homemade bread is a wonderful thing to make and to keep around the house, but there are several things that keep us from baking bread as often as we might like. The first thing is time. It can take a couple of hours to take a loaf from start to finish and, while we might have time on the weekends, this rules it out for weekdays. The second thing is difficulty. Kneading bread can seem like a daunting task to novice bakers, and even experienced bakers don’t always want to get the counter covered with flour. This No Knead Whole Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread is one of the easiest breads I’ve ever made and it is darn tasty. It requires no kneading and has a very short rising time, so the bread can be fully baked just about one hour after you start to mix the ingredients together!
The secret to this bread is the temperature of the ingredients used. It uses both bread flour (you can use all purpose, but bread flour gives you a slightly better texture in the finished loaf) and whole wheat flour, which gives the bread a great structure and a good wheat flavor. The flour is warmed before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, and all that heat kick starts the yeast into a rapid rise and cuts the total rising time to just 30 minutes!
The bread also does all of its rising right in the loaf pan that it is baked in. You don’t need to knead the dough before putting it into the pan, just stir it very vigorously when you are incorporating all of the ingredients. If you have a stand mixer, you can mix your dough with a dough hook and transfer it directly to the loaf pan. If you don’t mind a little kneading, you can turn the bread onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for just 1 minute to smooth it out even more before putting it into the loaf pan. I usually do the little bit of extra kneading, but it definitely isn’t necessary if you just put a little bit of muscle into your mixing.
The finished bread is a great sandwich loaf. It has a good whole wheat flavor to it and just a hint of sweetness from the honey. It slices easily, toasts well and makes fantastic sandwiches. You can eat it while it is still warm, if you want to serve it for dinner, but it is best after it has cooled completely. You can use whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour in this bread and you’ll get good results both ways, but a little bit lighter flavor from the white whole wheat if you prefer a slightly less hearty whole wheat flavor.
Bread-baking is a subject that you can never have too many books about. It’s a skill that can take a lot of time and feel to fully develop, even if the basics are simple. This is especially true if your goal is to try and replicate some of the top artisanal loaves in your home kitchen. Baking Artisan Bread: 10 Expert Formulas for Baking Better Bread at Home is a book that is intended to cover all the basics of artisan bread baking. Instead of overloading you with all kinds of detailed recipes, the book instead focuses on giving you a thorough grounding on the ingredients you need and the techniques you’ll use to make bread.
The recipe section is edited so that, while there are formulas for 10 different types of breads, there are only two or three different recipes (variations, essentially) under each category. This careful selection means that the book dedicates most of its time to detailing how the recipe should be made step-by-step. It also means that there is a good chance that you’ll actually bake all the recipes in it, unlike much larger books.
The recipes are given by volume, weight – both in standard and metric units- and in baker’s percentages. This makes it very easy to start out with the book, since you can give the recipes a trial with the volume measurements if you don’t already have a scale. The instructions are easy to follow and there are lots of photos of the various stages of the recipes to help guide your progress. Even better is the DVD that comes with the book, which demonstrates even more clearly than the book’s photos how to take a bread from a pile of ingredients to a finished loaf.
It seems like there are several boulangeries, or bakeries, on every block in Paris selling baguettes and other types of breads. Sandwich shops and some cafes, many of which look just like bakeries themselves, also sell baguettes and baguette sandwiches. So how can you pick a good one? In part, it’s a crap shoot because there are just so many out there, but there are a few things to look out for to help you pick one that will be good – and, if you’re lucky, one that will be great.
When you’re walking down the street, look for boulangeries that say “Artisan Boulanger” or “Artisan Boulangerie” in the window. This generally means that the bread is baked on-site, not imported from some other shop or factory. You can usually see the ovens through an open back room in places like these.
Bread baking is perceived as being a very time-consuming and tricky process, with yeast, flour, proofing and shaping to contend with. This is why the concept of low-maintenance “no-knead” bread is so appealing. I tend to think that bread making only seems time consuming because of the long rises, not the few minutes of kneading dough, but I’m always up for a recipe that is easy and produces a great-tasting result and “no-knead” bread fits that bill perfectly.
To make no-knead bread, you basically only need to mix up the dough, give it a long, slow rise, and bake it without any kneading or shaping necessary. The long slow rise allows both gluten and flavor to develop, so that you end up with a bread that tastes good and also rises up well. The dough can be wetter than a dough that needs to be handled, which means that you’re also able to get a loaf that has a thick, crunchy crust and a moist, chewy interior. No-knead breads are usually baked in some sort of lidded pot or dutch oven (and are sometimes called “Pot Bread” as a result). This enclosed space helps the crust to develop and shapes the bread so you don’t have to.
This loaf is based on a Nancy Baggett recipe and is definitely as easy as promised. It had a great flavor, with a nice butteriness and a very subtle tang from the long first rise. It also had a wonderfully chewy interior and an excellent crust. My bread rose well and had a nice, open texture. You can substitute bread flour for the all purpose in this recipe, but you will still get very good results with the all purpose (all purpose is what I buy in bulk – and what most people keep in their kitchens – so it is definitely a little more convenient).
The shape of your bread will vary slightly depending on the size pot you use to bake it in. I used my Dutch oven, but if you don’t have a suitable pot already, you might want to check out Nancy’s advice on picking a good one for bread baking.