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  • Grilled Artisan Bread

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    Background: For Christmas, I received a book about making artisan bread in five minutes a day (I highly recommend it). You can read my progress thus far here, in reverse chronological order.

    A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try making grilled pizza (with the Bob Evans Wildfire BBQ chicken), and since I only use artisan bread dough for pizza these days (because it’s already in my fridge), I decided to grill that. The book has instructions for grilling the dough, but it calls for the use of a pizza stone in the grill. I might try that method still, but I decided to go for putting the dough directly onto the grill.

    The verdict: Messy, but delicious.

    I used olive oil instead of cornmeal, but the dough didn’t slide off my baking sheet the way I’d hoped it would, so I had to lift the pizza, with all of the toppings on, and place it on the grill. I lost a little bit of cheese and chicken, but fortunately, I’d made the pizzas pretty small – no more than six inches in diameter – so they were manageable.

    And worth it. The parts of the dough that didn’t get burned tasted amazing.

    But yeah, I burned some of it. I figured since the temp in the oven is always over 450 degrees, I should have the grill on high. Um, not so much. It turned out to be too high, but trial and error is my favorite method of learning to cook 😉

    The very next day, I decided to just grill some bread, so I made some rounds about four inches in diameter and one inch thick. I plopped those directly onto the grill too, with the heat around medium high. The temperature gauge on the grill said 350 degrees, but I don’t trust it – the dough shouldn’t have burned the way it did at 350. I forgot to keep track of the cooking time, but I don’t think it took more than ten minutes.

    The grilled bread was so tasty, it’s now my favorite way to cook the artisan dough. It’s more of a hassle than baking it in my toaster oven, which I still do several times a week. But when the weather is not too hot, I can see myself grilling bread every day.

    (Sorry about the lack of pictures. It was such an experiment, because not only was it my first time grilling bread, but my first time grilling ever, that it never even occurred to me to grab the camera. Next time.)


    Disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    Midday Coffee: Sandwich bread Artisan Bread Style

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    Alex’s upcoming transition to kindergarten is looming large for me these days, and one of the things I think a lot about is his lunch (more on this later). I eagerly tried the sandwich bread technique at the Artisan Bread in Five site, but I’m finding that the crust is still on the tough side for my boys. So I’m going to go back to a more traditional recipe from The Joy of Cookingand see if my bread-making technique has gotten any better.

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    An Artisan Bread Update That’s Way Overdue

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    It’s been over two months since I made my first loaf of artisan bread using the method described in my favorite cookbook of all time, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.It’s the best Christmas gift ever, and I get giddy when I try something new and it works.

    Earlier this week, I made fresh pita! I used the olive oil bread recipe in the book, and it was so much fun. It was like magic, rolling out the dough into 1/8-inch thick circles, popping them into the toaster oven, and watching them puff up! I couldn’t believe it actually worked. They tasted just okay, not spectacular, but I’m definitely going to try again. Did I mention it was like magic? (Read the authors’ instructions.)

    Also, the brioche dough makes fabulous cinnamon raisin bread. I love that the brioche dough can be frozen in one-pound balls, so I can make cinnamon raisin bread almost any time. It’s one of the kids’ most favorite things to eat, and it’s incredibly easy. Here’s the recipe for their brioche dough and cinnamon swirl bread. (I just added a couple handfuls of raisins to the latter.)

    If you haven’t gotten the book yet, the authors posted their Master Recipe recently. You may want to watch this video, which shows how to shape a loaf.

    These pizza rolls are now a lunch box staple, and I always have some in my freezer. The boys’ preschool will warm these up for lunch, but I’m trying to think of how I can make them portable for kindergarten. Maybe a shallow, wide-mouth thermos.

    Lastly, but definitely not least, I’ve come to love the refrigerator rise, which is a working mom’s best trick. Shape the dough in the morning on parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it in the fridge. When you get home, preheat the oven, and bake as normal. Fresh bread really is the bomb!

    Disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    Artisan Bread Update: This Recipe Has Changed My Life!

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    Background: For Christmas, I received a book about making artisan bread in five minutes a day. You can read my progress thus far here, in reverse chronological order.

    To say that Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Dayhas changed my life isn’t an exaggeration. The most important change has been in feeding my kids dinner. Even if they dislike the entree – which, alas is more often than not – they’ll eat the fruit and freshly baked bread that’s on their plate. So they still get enough calories and I don’t worry that they’re going to bed hungry. (Read my previous posts about feeding the boys.)

    The artisan bread method works unbelievably well. It really is as simple as mixing up a batch of dough, letting it rise on the counter for a couple of hours, and then parking it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. I was thrilled to find this FAQ on the authors’ web site yesterday, because it suggests a great weekday method for people like me, who come home in the evening and then make dinner: the refrigerator rise. I’m excited to try it, because I’ve previously discussed my timing issues.

    Now that we’re at the end of January into February, I’m wondering what I will do when the weather warms up and I no longer want to use my regular oven on a daily basis. I’ve had some success baking bread in my toaster oven, but it’s not my favorite because I keep worrying that the bread will rise too much and be too close to the top of the oven. I’m contemplating a new toaster oven that has more height, but I hate spending money on a new toaster when I’ve got a perfectly good one already.

    One word about leftover bread – it really doesn’t taste as great when it’s not fresh. I’ve taken to putting it in the freezer, and when there’s enough, I make a strata.

    Note about the image: It’s a pizza wheel I made using the authors’ directions. These have been great to keep in the freezer and have on hand for fast and easy lunches.

    Disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    Artisan Bread Update: Still lovin’ it!

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    Background: For Christmas, I received a book about making artisan bread in five minutes a day. You can read my progress thus far here, in reverse chronological order.

    I’ve been baking bread almost every day for nearly three weeks now, but I feel like an old pro in some ways. I’ve been making one batch of dough every week, and that’s about how long it lasts. This week, I’m going to make two batches of dough so it lasts longer.

    I have a few different updates:

    Pizza dough: I used the master recipe as pizza dough last week, and I thought it was just okay. The dough rose more than I like, since I prefer very thin pizza crust. It was still good, but I prefer my usual pizza dough recipe. However, this one is easier by far since I just have to pull the dough out of the fridge. I may make a batch of the olive oil version for our next homemade pizza night.

    Pizza wheels: Speaking of pizza, over at the Artisan Bread web site, they have a recipe for pizza on a stick. It looks like a cinnamon roll, but made with pizza ingredients instead. The notes at the end made me realize that these would be fabulous to keep in the freezer for the kids’ lunches. I’m sure you could do the exact same thing with any pizza dough, including the store-bought kind.

    Brioche: Since the first disappointing loaf of brioche, I’ve baked two more loaves from the same batch of dough and they both came out beautifully. Now that I’ve had a little more experience, I think my first loaf was too big, didn’t bake long enough even though it was a beautiful golden color, and perhaps rose too long. I love this dough so much, in fact, that I’m determined to keep some in my freezer at all times!

    Whole wheat bread: I haven’t made the 100% whole wheat bread yet, but I did substitute in some white whole wheat flour for the unbleached all purpose flour in the master recipe and it’s totally fine.

    Proper rising and steam do make a difference: On weeknights, when I’m more rushed, I tend to make small rolls, cut rising times short, and bake in my toaster oven without steam. The bread that comes out is fine, but not superb. The bread I make on weekends, with a full 40-minute rise, and baked with steam, is definitely better. The crust is more crisp and the crumb is lighter. Plus, I make full size loaves, which we do prefer. Still, there is nothing like having freshly baked bread on the table every night!

    I love this book!

    Disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    My Artisan Bread Experiment: Update #2

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    Background: I just started baking with the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.You can read my intro post here and my first update here.

    Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Dayis quickly becoming my favorite Christmas gift of all time. The bread is so good, and I still can’t get over how easy it is to make. Seriously – mixing the dough in my stand mixer takes all of five minutes (if that), and shaping the dough takes about 20 seconds. That is pretty much all of the work that’s involved.

    My temperamental small upper oven and I are on pretty good terms right now. I know its quirks, so all of my breads have come out quite good. I’ve just been using a cookie sheet and parchment paper, and the bread quality has been great. Someone recommended using an inverted cast iron skillet in place of a baking stone, which sounds brilliant, but unlike my oven, my cast iron skillet and I are not on good terms . . .

    We had incredibly warm weather this past weekend – on Sunday, we hit 80 degrees. (Yeah, that’s why people pay the high cost of living in Southern California!) And I was reminded that I am not going to run my oven every day in just a couple of months. In fact, if the weather’s warm enough that we need the air conditioner, I only use my oven once or twice a week.

    So I decided to experiment with baking bread in my toaster oven, without steam. I shaped my loaf a little flatter than usual, and it baked up quite beautifully. I’m very pleased, because this means we can now have fresh bread all year round!

    The toaster oven experiment also had the unexpected benefit of solving one of my minor problems. Last week, I found it was a little hard to get the bread baked by dinner time since I couldn’t start the rising process until I got home from work. While it takes me only seconds to shape the dough, it does have to rise and then bake – depending on the size of the loaf, that can take up to an hour and a half. I cut the rising time by making rolls, but it turns out my family prefers a full size loaf over rolls.

    The toaster oven baked the bread faster than the regular oven. So, now I know that when I’m pressed for time, I can turn to my toaster oven for faster fresh bread.

    This past week, I also tried the brioche recipe that’s in the book, and on their web site. The final product was rather cakey, so although it tasted good, the texture wasn’t my favorite – plus, it had a tendency to fall apart. This might be because I let the dough rise longer than I meant to. I’ve got three balls of brioche dough in the freezer, so maybe my next loaf will come out better. I’ll let you know in the next update!

    Note: I noticed that the authors’ web site has an errata page noting the errors in the book.

    Disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!