Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Wednesday Baker: Boule Bread

A few months ago I bought all of the necessary equipment and ingredients for bread, according to the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day."

Bread and I have a long history. According to local legend, I used to take naps in a laundry basket on the floor of the bakery, Baba A Louis, where my mom worked. Bread is a weakness. It's a blessing. It's something I seek and destroy when in the mood.

Except I've never really been that great at baking it. I manage hockey pucks. The occasional door stop. But never fantastic, earthy bread.

So when I bought this book in the Spring, we were weeks away from moving into Anchorage and I never really got to turn loose in the book. Until now. Until today. The day I deemed Wednesdays as "baking days."

The concept of the book is that artisan bread is actually possible without having an advanced degree in chemistry or fancy equipment. No back-breaking kneading. No nonsense. You mix your ingredients. You let them set overnight. You bake your bread. You eat your bread. Bada-boom...bada-bing.

The Master Recipe makes four 1-pound loaves, so I always halve it.

3 cups lukewarm water
1.5 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1.5 tablespoons kosher or coarse salt
6 cups unsifted all purpose flour.

The book goes on to have you mix the water, the yeast and the salt. Add the flour. Mix very loosely until there's not dry spots. And then...well, that's it. Put it in a container. Leave it in the fridge. Let the yeast work its magic. In the morning, you knead it very lightly. Let it rest. Bake your bread (with the help of a "steam bath") for 30 minutes. And you're done.

The book is amazing and highly recommended...eventually you can work yourself up to making cinnamon rolls and other super fantastic-ness. But for now. The bread.

It had the bakery-guaranteed"skin" that crackled and broke when you tear into it. It's chewy. It's yeasty. It's perfect for a rainy Wednesday in Alaska.

The authors have a site here. Just so happens today they blogged about baking in Tuscany without their normal equipment. Nice, right?

Happy Wednesday!

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