Homemade Bread

Ciabatta Buns

I realize that bread doesn’t fall under the category of something that will satisfy a sweet tooth, but this post is about baking, so I figure it’s still relevant!  I’m the kind of person who can eat an entire baguette in one sitting, and there are few foods I love more than fresh bread that’s still warm from the oven.  My mother has always had a major aversion to baking anything that requires yeast, so my family bought all of our bread from the grocery store’s bakery instead of making it ourselves. Even though I didn’t inherit my mother’s fear or yeasted doughs, I always thought that making bread from scratch was a labor-intensive and lengthy process, and rarely baked any homemade loaves.  Learning about no-knead bread recipes was something of a revelation, and now making bread from scratch is quick, easy, and virtually foolproof!

Garlic Bread Dough

My go-to bread recipe is “The Master Recipe: Boule” from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  Although there are many other recipes and variations in the book, I just use the master recipe as a base to create my own variations.  The herb variation (with rosemary and thyme) mentioned in the book is great, and I’ve also tried making interesting loaves by adding roasted garlic cloves, curry powder, crushed garlic, kalamata olives, or whatever else I stumble upon while foraging in my pantry or refrigerator for ingredients that seems like a good match.  The recipe is very forgiving and I’ve never had any real problems with the finished bread regardless of my experimentation.  I’ve also reduced the baking time and made sandwich rolls out of the master recipe, and they turned out great!
There is also an easily-veganized recipe for “100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread” which I made once with whole white wheat flour and agave instead of honey.  I also added a little bit of cinnamon to the dough, and if my family and I hadn’t eaten the entire loaf while it was still warm from the oven, I’m certain that it could have been used to make some of the most delicious French toast ever!  I’ve also used whole white wheat flour in the master recipe (or a mixture of all-purpose flour and whole white wheat flour) and it’s always been a success.  The bagels I made from the recipe in the book didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, but I’m not all that discouraged because bagels are tough to get right.  Honestly, I’m quite proud that I even tried to make bagels from scratch!
The directions for the no-knead bread dough are very straightforward and are easy to modify.  I almost always half or quarter the recipe since I live alone, which also works out well in case my flavor experimentation ends up being less delicious than I anticipated.  I also never have cornmeal on hand, so I just use flour instead.  After forming the loaf, I let the dough rest on a piece of parchment paper, which I then set directly on my baking stone.  Baking with steam helps make a wonderful crust for the bread, and aside from a disastrous occasion when I used a glass bowl instead of a broiler tray (which resulted in the glass shattering all over the bottom of my oven), I’ve never had any problems even if I don’t close the oven door as quickly as I probably should.  The master recipe seems virtually impossible to mess up, so even if you’ve had bad experiences with yeasted doughs in the past, it should definitely be worth giving no-knead bread recipes a try.

Garlic Bread

I absolutely recommend trying the no-knead bread recipes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but you can also preview the book on Amazon to check out “The Master Recipe” and read about the preparation methods if you’re not yet convinced!

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August 5, 2009. Uncategorized.

One Comment

  1. Oatmeal Rolls « Vegan Sweet Tooth replied:

    […] Like the Homemade Bread I blogged about a few months ago, the topic of this post is also non-dessert baking.  I […]

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