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  • My Artisan Bread Experiment: Update #2

    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!

    My First Artisan Loaves

    Here’s my first update on the bread-making adventure:

    Unfortunately, it never occurred to me to take a picture of my first loaf on Sunday, and the rolls last night all got eaten up, so I don’t have anything to show you. However . . .

    I’m a believer!

    The 5-minute method really works. It’s super easy to cut off some dough, shape it, let it rise, and bake it. I’ve just been using a baking pan with parchment and it’s worked fine, although I do want to experiment with the different suggestions I’ve gotten. Thank you for the comments and emails!

    The best part, of course, is that the bread is amazing – there’s a very crunchy crust, and a soft, chewy crumb (that’s what the authors call the interior). I’d been worried that the crust would be too tough for the boys, but they devoured 1 1/2 rolls each last night. The authors say repeatedly that the bread should be allowed to cool completely before cutting but I don’t know if that’ll ever happen in this house. The warm bread with butter is just so alluring.

    I realized on Sunday night, after I’d baked my first loaf, that this bread just might be my savior when the boys are older. I’ve already mentioned that I can see the day when they’re eating machines, and I’m thinking that a fresh loaf of bread (each!) will probably keep their tummies full and content. Homemade bread is pretty cheap to make – I’ll have to break down the price sometime, just to see exactly how cheap.

    I found a giant plastic food storage container that was part of a set we received as a gift a couple of years ago, and it’s serving me well as the perfect dough container in the fridge. It’s big enough to hold a full 6-3-3-13 recipe, if we end up eating that much bread. (For the first batch, I followed the master recipe in the book, which calls for half of the 6-3-3-13 amounts.)

    Once I’ve got the master recipe down, I’m going to try some of the other recipes in the book, which call for different types of flour. And I’m sure that I’ll eventually pick up the authors’ new book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.I prefer whole grains, and I would prefer that my children eat whole grains too. Especially if they’re eating a whole loaf a day!


    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!

    How was your Christmas? Mine was all about Artisan Bread

    My Christmas yesterday was fabulous, thanks to my wonderful husband who gave me the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.

    I’d read about this book in several places, including Growing Up Gabel. The concept was so weird, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it, which is why the authors’ web site just wasn’t getting it done for me. But now that I’ve read the book, I understand and I can’t wait to try it.

    Here’s the concept in a nutshell: Mix together one big batch of dough until just combined. Without kneading, let it rise for a couple of hours, then store it in the fridge. When you’re ready to bake, cut off a piece of dough, shape it, let it rise, and then bake it.

    The master recipe is based on the proportions of 6-3-3-13: 6 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of yeast, 3 tablespoons of salt, and 13 cups of flour. It’s supposed to be a very wet dough, and will become a little tangy – like sourdough – the longer it sits in the fridge. The baking instructions involve using a pizza peel, a baking stone, and a pan of water to create steam in the oven.

    I like to bake in my temperamental small top oven (to minimize energy usage), so I’m going to have to do some experimenting to see what works. I’m anticipating quite a few misses, but my plan is to eventually have a routine going where I mix up the dough every one or two weeks, and then bake up a small loaf every day or two.

    The authors have a newer book out called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.Once I’ve mastered techniques in the original book, I’m going to pick this one up because I’d really prefer to be eating whole grains.

    I’ll keep you updated as I experiment with bread-making. I’m planning to get started this coming week :)

    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!

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