Total Pageviews

random musings of a crazy cat lady

Friday, February 20, 2009

lazy biddy bread recipe

Unfortunately for my waistline, I'm a bread maniac. There's nothing that tastes better than bread fresh from the oven, but I rarely baked it since it took too long and inevitably left me with too much bread. About a year ago I bought a book called "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg. They've developed a method where you mix up a master batch of bread dough and store it in the fridge. It's a pretty wet dough so it mixes up easily with just a large spoon. No fancy stand mixer required (although I still want to get one!). When you want to bake bread, take out a piece of dough and shape it, let it sit for an hour or two and then bake it. There's no kneading involved, so it really is about as easy as using a bread machine, and the results are a lot tastier.
The key to the recipe is the high water to flour ratio. This enables the gluten to develop more easily without any kneading. Other food writers have published similar high hydration recipes, but this one is the easiest. The dough is baked in a hot (450F) oven on a baking stone. It can also be used for pizza dough, calzones, foccacia, etc. The bread is somewhat dense, with great flavor and a very nice crust. I usually just use the master recipe but have also made the semolina and rye bread variations.
The question that I've gotten is whether it's really "5 minutes a day" Well, not exactly. There's a lot of resting and baking time in there, but very little prep or cleanup time. I wish that all the syntheses I do in the lab were this quick! It takes about 5 minutes to mix the dough. After that you let it sit at room temperature for two hours. At that point you can take some out and bake it, and/or pop the whole bowl in in the fridge. When you make the bread, you pull out a ball of dough (usually 1 lb, or 1/4 of the master recipe) and shape it. This takes a minute or two. Then it rises for a while. When it's ready to bake, slash a few slits in the top and put it in the preheated oven. So the actual "active time" really is about five minutes on the days you make the dough or bake a loaf.
When I get my fancy stand mixer, I'll go back to making breads that need a lot of kneading, but for now I'm pretty happy with my lazy bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment