Wednesday, May 29, 2013

We Knead to Talk...

Get it?  We knead to talk?  Ok, I'll stop.

I first stumbled across Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois in early 2012.  I had been increasingly alarmed by the ingredient lists on most of the store-bought breads available and the price tag for bakery bread at the farmer's market was a bit steep for my liking.  Plus, my domesticity got the best of me and I just honestly had a hankering to bake my own bread!  It's worth it just for the heavenly aroma.

Think you don't have the time or skills to make homemade bread?  Think again, my friends.
This book is a revelation.  The title is for real!  You can make healthy, homemade bread in 5 minutes a day--no kneading required.  No stand mixer with dough hook attachment necessary.  This easy peasy technique is what keeps me coming back to this method time and time again.

The beginning chapters discuss ingredients, equipment and technique.  A treasure trove of 100 whole grain bread recipes follows (including some wonderful gluten-free options).  Here is the one I keep coming back to time and time again.  The good news?  You can make 4 one-pound loaves out of one recipe.  And the dough will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks allowing you to bake the bread whenever you have a time and hankering for a slice of fresh, homemade bread.

The Master Recipe
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Makes 4 one-pound loaves of artisan bread

5 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (can use white whole wheat if desired)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 TBSP granulated yeast (or 2 packets)
1 TBSP kosher salt (it seems like a lot but it's a lot of flour)
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (Bob's Red Mill is a good option)
4 cups lukewarm water
Cornmeal or parchment paper for pizza peel/pizza stone
1-2 TBSP assorted nuts & seeds*

Ready, set go!  This looks like a lot of steps but it is really, really easy.  I promise.
1.  Measure dry ingredients into a bowl (preferably one with a lid--doesn't have to be airtight)
2.  Mix in water
3.  DON'T knead!  Just mix until the last of the flour is incorporated nicely
4.  Loosely cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap.
5.  Let rise appx. 2 hours.  Then refrigerate overnight.  Do not punch down the dough.  No matter how much aggression you need to take out.  
6.  On baking day:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place a metal pan in the oven.  This is going to help with the whole steam approach in step 9.  When you are ready for a fresh loaf of bread, flour your hands and grab a grapefruit-sized ball of dough from container and shape into a ball, tucking the ugly edges under.  Make an elongated loaf shape and plop on a pizza stone you've prepped with a sprinkle of cornmeal.
7.  Let the dough rest and rise for 90 minutes (it may not rise a whole lot but be not alarmed--it will rise even more in the oven.  Brush with water and sprinkle with your seeds mixture if desired*
8.  Put the bread in the oven, still on the pizza stone.
9.  Pour 1 cup of hot water in the metal pan (please don't use glassware; it might shatter and cleaning up glass shards when you are supposed to be eating bon bons is NOT part of the plan here).  Quickly shut the oven door so the steam stays in the oven and provides a nice sauna for the baking bread.
10.  Bake bread for 30 minutes until deep golden brown and crusty.  Supposedly one should let the bread cool before eating but I usually can't wait that long.

The loaves are ready for the oven and their spa treatment.

*I made an "Everything Bagel Bread" by using sunflower seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, shelled pumpkin seeds, dried onion flakes and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

Ah, fresh-baked loveliness!

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