Monday, October 25, 2010

Back to Basics: Bread

I would like to announce the passing of a very dear friend.

While on vacation, my sourdough starter died.

It wasn't really a surprise. She had been feeling sluggish for days. I had been so busy packing and planning for the big trip that I may have neglected her, thus leading to her early demise.

And for that I'm sorry.

I would like to ask for a moment of silence as we remember my starter.

Here is my new starter.

She may be young, but by Friday will have maturity beyond her

In the meantime, I need bread.

Sometime ago, I purchased a book called "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day". Some of the recipes in this book were featured in a Mother Earth News issue and it piqued my interest. I mean seriously, just 5 minutes a day?

My glass was half empty that week.

But then I tried it. And now I'm hooked. It is still no substitute for sourdough bread, but in a pinch, this stuff is pretty good.

Homemade Artisan bread on the left, store-bought bread on the right

It would be easy for me to just pick up a loaf of artisan bread at the grocery store and call it good, but silly me, I enjoy reading the labels on the food I purchase.

Here are the ingredients on a loaf I bought recently. Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, malted barley flour), water, asiago cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt enzymes), asiago-flavored nuggets (modified palm oil, corn syrup solids, salt, monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast extract, soybean lecithin, natural and artificial flavors, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, lactic acid), wheat gluten, rice flour, salt, dough conditioners (diacetyl tartaric acid, esters of mono and diglycerides, ascorbic acid, enzymes, azodicarbonamide), yeast

Just so you know, my spell-check didn't recognize 14 of these words.

Scooby Doo would call this a clue.

Shaggy would agree.

If you are wanting to feed your family a science project, then this would qualify. But if you are looking to make a positive change toward good nutrition, take a pass on the lab experiment and try this recipe from the book. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

For this bread to have a rustic texture, you will need a baking stone, also known as a pizza stone. They are inexpensive, but really help to make a nice crust on the bread.

European Peasant Bread

3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 Tb. yeast (or 2 packets)
1-1/2 Tb. sea salt
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for the pizza peel

1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5 quart, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14 cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy duty stand mixer (with dough hook).

3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours. I leave it in the mixer bowl and cover with a towel.

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (but not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days.

5. On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound piece. (grapefruit size) Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes. If you don't have a pizza peel, use a cookie sheet with no sides.

6. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat oven to 450 F. , with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on a lower shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

7. Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before slicing.

Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top crust is deeply browned and very firm.

Artisan bread sprinkled with poppy and sesame seeds

Allow to cool before slicing.

If you desire cheese in the bread, add about 1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese with the dry ingredients. Roasted garlic would be a nice addition also. 

By the way, the spell-check recognized all of the ingredients in the peasant loaf.

Enough said.



Kym-Anne said...

Hi Kim,
Looks good!!!

I have been trying to make bread for ages but it's always tough in the middle. Maybe it's the recipe I have, most likely it's me.

But being one to never give up I will keep on truckin' and give it another go with your recipe.

Mountain Home Quilts said...

"asiago-flavored nuggets???" Um, that just sounds gross.
O.k., you've inspired me!! I'm making this bread. Thanks, I needed it.
Oh, and BTW, I haven't had SD starter in months....I was soooooo slacking. I just started a new mother 2 days ago. Phew, it feels good to be back at it. :)

Tia said...

Hey! I was just talking about making a SD starter... no clue where to begin...mind sharing?!?

inadvertent farmer said...

When you're done with that book try their new healthy bread book...full of whole grains!

Sorry about the mold...I think webs are beginning to form between my toes...quack! Kim

Mountain Home Quilts said...

O.k., I've got a question (I'm just getting around to this bread today!) How many loaves would you say you get out of the dough? Are we talking 2 or like 5?

Gina said...

Kim- I've been using this recipe for a long time! Its so wonderful! I decrease the salt to only 1 tablespoon though. But, wanted to share with you that I use this dough for pizza, homemade pocket sandwiches to keep in the freezer for quick lunches (prebaked), and I also make english muffins with this dough (just pat small discs in cornmeal on both sides - flat like a Lofthouse cookie size) and cook in a dry hot skillet with a lid until brown spots, flip, and cook again. These are wonderful. Also fry "hoecakes" with this dough in a little butter in the skillet (DELICIOUS!) I bake the pizza in a heavily oiled iron skillet for deep dish pizza (tastes like Pizza Hut)or roll the crust (cold) for a thin crust. We bake pizzas in the oven and on the gas grill. This is one terrific recipe to have on hand.