I’ve used a bread machine a lot in the past, but I was never really happy with anything that came out of it. So, a few months ago I sold the machine and bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking (Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François). I enjoyed reading the first couple of chapters, but I needed to purchase a few things for the kitchen before I could try any of it myself.
Mike and I often get lunch bags from a local farmer’s market that have trail mix, bread, and a goat cheese, olive oil, and herb mixture. Since his birthday was yesterday, I finally made the push to pick up those last few things I needed; the farm stand sells the seasoned cheese by itself, too, and I thought it would be lovely if we could have that with even fresher, homemade bread.
The dough mixture from the book has just four ingredients, and since there’s no kneading involved, it was ready in no time at all. I set it out to rise for the next two hours.
About an hour later, I peeked in on the dough to see how it was doing, and had a fun discovery—it was mounding over the edges of the pot! I knew I was working out of a container that wan’t ideal, but I didn’t expect to see that sort of thing only half-way through. Unfortunately, I didn’t have many options, so I pulled some of the dough out and put it into another pot. (I’ve since acquired some great 6 quart plastic containers, so this won’t be an issue in the future.)
When the dough is ready for refrigeration, it begins to collapse, or at least flattens on the top. For this loaf (I did bake a pre-birthday loaf as a test the day before), I let it sit in the fridge overnight, and the next day I removed a grapefruit-sized ball of dough and shaped the loaf. At that point, it needed another 40 minutes to rise on the pizza peel. Then I dusted and slashed it.
The book calls for baking the loaf with steam (I set some water in a baking pan below the baking stone) for around 30 minutes and then setting it on a wire rack to cool.
There was nothing left but to enjoy the fruits (breads?) of my labor.
Mike and I were both quite pleased, and we look forward to many future loaves. Considering how easy this was, I can hardly believe I ever even bothered with the bread machine.