Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oh Joy!

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!

Please don't forget to click on the "Feed the Animals" link to help feed a hungry animal. It's free and only takes a second of your time. Thanks!



kris said...

Hi Giddy - I'm so glad you had good results with the bread! Your loaves look wonderful. I baked some today using parchment and definitely works better for me that way. I like your idea of letting the dough come to room temp before shaping - I'm sure there will be SOME days that I can wait that extra little bit!! :)

Your photos of the bay are stunning - and all of your snow looks really nice, but I'm glad you're having a bit of a thaw. We are too - a lovely respite, isn't it?

Enjoy that bread!!

Motherkitty said...

Giddy, thanks for visiting my site and for your encouraging words. I agree with you about the SAD part -- I really do need to get out more and get some sunlight in these old bones.

Now, about the artisan bread!!! I have copied your recipe and that on your friend Kitt's site. (This is going to be placed in My Favorite Recipes book.) I, too, was raised on immigrant bread and just the sight of it sets my mouth drooling. I haven't had too much luck baking my own but I definitely will be making this recipe. I'm always on the lookout for something easy with delicious results. Thanks and will let you know if my bread looks and tastes just like yours. Have a great day.

jhertz10 said...

Hi Giddy:

Thanks so much for trying our recipes... I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the authors of "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." I have to get back to visit Maine again, so beautiful, and your loaves are beautiful too.

If you have any questions about the method, please find us on our website: www.artisanbreadinfive.com

Thanks, Jeff Hertzberg

Giddy said...

Kris, it was a red letter day when I read your post about the bread. Thanks so much for posting it and the information.

Motherkitty, I work in the medical field and SAD is a real problem for many people. You might want to Google it on the internet to get more information.

Jeff, Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I cannot tell you enough how much we are enjoying this bread. I'm off tomorrow to purchase your book and a pizza stone. I am your new #1 fan! I also viewed you and Zoe's interview on YouTube.

zoebakes said...

Hi Giddy,

Thank you for trying the bread, it looks gorgeous!!! Your crust is perfect.

Please tell me more about the broetchen, it sounds like something I need to try.

Thank you, Zoe Francois

Kerri said...

Oh now that's not fair! I know I didn't help you make the bread, but surely you could let me help you eat it (said the friends of the Little Red Hen)! :)
Now I'm really hungry for a good loaf of bread. Thanks Giddy :)
How cool to hear from the authors of the book!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

OMG my mouth is watering. The bread looks so good. I am always complaining about the bread we eat I should bake some! You have inspired me to try.

Anonymous said...

Now, that bread looks like art! Bet you house smells great with all that baking going on. What a good way to pass a cold winter day.

We like to try different kinds of bread, too, and have a good collection of books on the subject.

Anonymous said...

i'm coming over there for some of that chicken soup!