H and I have been bread aficionados for decades. Being children of foreign born mothers, neither of us grew up with the white, pasty, stick to the roof of your mouth stuff that was presented en mass in plastic bags from the supermarket.
My youth was full of aromas wafting from German bakeries filled with crusty "broetchen", little rolls we ate for breakfast, topped with creamy butter and homemade preserves. Lunch would be a lavish spread of dark, chewy "misch brot" slices topped with a variety of fresh delicacies from the local butcher shop and sharp mustard. Ah yes, there was never a lack of flavor in our house.
Likewise, H's Italian grandmother delighted him with cafe latte, herb scented focaccia, and Italian loaves with a crust to die for - crunchy right out of the oven with enough chewiness to stand up to the savory salamis, prosciuttos, and mortadella, the wonderful luncheon meats of Italy.
Pardon, while I wipe the drool from my mouth.
Until this week, we had paid dear prices for the artisan breads we so dearly love. We would lament that despite the fact that we both love to bake yeast breads and have several good books which go into great detail on how to develop a good artisanal bread, we have never quite gotten the product we hoped for. Until now!
While reading Kris' blog the other day, I sat up and took notice of the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" recipe. It intrigued me and I set about to make yet another attempt at a good, home baked bread with little hope of actually getting the results I wanted. Boy, was I ever wrong! This bread is fantastic! I also checked out the cookbook's coauthor, Zoe Francois' blog for more information.
Below is my first, but by no means last attempt at this recipe:
After mixing the ingredients, I waited three hours instead of two since our home is kept quite cool and then shaped one small loaf to give it a try.
I took a piece of parchment paper, sprayed it with olive oil spray and sprinkled corn meal on it before placing the shaped boule on it to rest.
Since we don't have a pizza stone, I looked around to find something to bake it on and figured my trusty old cast iron skillet would do just fine.
The wait was unbearable. Within 15 minutes, the wonderful, yeasty aroma was permeating every nook and cranny of the house and the temptation to open the oven for a peek was great, but calm prevailed and the end result was nothing less than fantastic!
Needless to say, H and I did not wait for this baby to cool before we launched in to our "debriefing" of the project. The process was simple - no kneading, little time spent cleaning up and the bread itself was indescribably delicious. The crust crackled and was crunchy and chewy at the same time - a perfect loaf of bread. We were in heaven.
This morning, I could hardly wait to get out of my nice warm bed to try baking another boule to make sure it had not been just a fluke. I debated about letting the dough come to room temperature before shaping and resting, but the instructions didn't address the issue, so I made one right away and let another come to room temp first.
The boule on the left was the one not left to come to room temperature. It did not rise as nicely as the one on the right and the crust was not as crunchy, so I have come to the conclusion that it's best to let the dough come to room temperature prior to shaping. Nevertheless, they both tasted wonderful.
While waiting for the dough to rise this morning, I put on a pot of chicken soup, so I'd say that suppah is done!
And, as a last paragraph to this posting, I have finished a couple of UFO's (unfinished objects) of knitting. I have several dishcloths, a hat and am almost done with a pair of socks. YAY!!
The only kitty in this post today is the one in the orange dishcloth!
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