So, as promised, here’s my journey making Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day … it all started after I’d discovered a cool site for tips & tricks meant to make my life easier: Lifehacker.com … but that’s a story for another day.
Surfing from Lifehacker.com sometime near the end of March 2012, I read the Mother Earth News article about the great technique that promises less than 5 minutes to make a loaf of fresh home-made bread-y goodness.
As I do so love fresh-baked bread, I’d immediately tried it using the common plain flour & yeast available at my local supemarket. My first attempt was delicious and smelled so good as it was baking … it was a bit flat (no nice tall dome), dense (I think the dough was too wet) and a bit too salty (salt was finer than what the recipe calls for). Having made bread the traditional way before (i.e., kneading, resting, punching down & proofing), I was truly amazed at how easy it was and how well it still turned out, especially since this was the first time I was trying out the new technique!
I’d later discovered that the authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day have their own blog, from which (based on their Sicilian Style Pizza Crust post) I learnt I could use the leftover dough to make a wonderful pizza, using my usual spaghetti sauce, house brand pepperoni, shredded mozzarella cheese and shredded cheddar cheese), with sliced onions, sliced green & red bell peppers, sliced white button mushrooms and sliced premium ham. My daughter, who had fun topping her side of the rectangular pizza with her favorite toppings (just pepperoni salami, ham and cheese, but no veggies, of course ), said it was the best pizza she’d ever eaten, definitely better than any of those we’d gotten from the popular pizza places.
So I was hooked and had to get Jeff Hertberg’s and Zoë François’ first book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, ASAP … got it from Amazon with express shipping … worth the extra money just to get my hands on the book quickly!
Next, I bought a Pullman-style lidded non-stick loaf pan (thanks to my cousin, Melinda, who told me where to find a good bake shop) and tried my hand in making Soft American-Style White Bread (I wanted to wean my daughter from store-bought white sandwich bread), but it turned out to be too dense and did not fill up the loaf pan after baking (I had used enough dough to fill half the pan before resting). It was still delicious on the day it was baked, although not so yummy the next day (wanted to make enough sliced bread for a couple of days).
I’d also tried making Buttermilk Bread (also lovely when baked fresh but not so nice the next day … I guess home-made bread is best eaten when freshly baked), and had even made my own version of Milk Bread (which I’d adapted from Buttermilk Bread but had used whole milk instead of buttermilk). Again, a bit dense and did not fill up the loaf pan after baking.
After finding Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour, my next experiment was Oat Flour Bread … lovely when freshly baked and I feel so healthy eating this higher fiber bread :-). Have made sandwich-sized loafs, mini buns, buns with ham and cheese and pigs-in-a-blanket, all with the Oat Flour dough … will describe how I made the last 2 kinds of buns in a later post. And, did I say I was hooked? Well, I went to Amazon again and had quickly gotten my hands on Jeff Hertberg’s and Zoë François’ 2nd & 3rd books: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.
And that’s where I am now … I now baking another free-form Oat Flour Bread (free-form without a loaf pan … I think the bread tastes better as a free-form loaf than baked in a loaf pan) and with our planning to have home-made pizza this Sunday, I’ve made a new batch of stored dough based on Cornmeal Olive Oil Dough (from the 3rd book, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day … again, will post about this dough after we’ve tried it this Sunday).