Jan 5, 2010

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.

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1 comment:

Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet said...

good to know about the toaster oven. thanks for the tip.