This is the post I’ve promised!
I started baking my own bread about 4 years ago. I needed to get rid of the preservatives in commercial bread and I had noticed that the companies I had trusted for years had begun to use artificial sweeteners (YUCK!). At the time I was running a “healthy eating club” as part of my local MOMS Club. One of the members suggested that I try baking my own bread. I actually laughed out loud at her. I had NEVER even thought about baking bread myself. I had all these visuals of being covered in flour and kneading dough. I baked, but things like cookies, quick breads and the occasional pie. Not anything hard – nothing that would take yeast!
She laughed at me and told me it was so easy Grant (who was 2 at the time) could practically do it. WHAT? I was really skeptical. She promised she’d bake bread for our next meeting, I could try it and see if I ever wanted bread out of a package again.
A month later she showed up on my doorstep with a beautiful loaf of artisan wheat bread – still warm. It had a hard crust and insides that just melted in my mouth. It was FABULOUS! But I was still skeptical. Could I do this? Well, yes it turns out that I could and so can you! The best part of the whole deal? You can do it all in about 5 minutes of hands on time a day! No joke. It really is that easy.
The secret comes from 2 wonderfully gifted people named Jeff and Zoe. They have written a series of books based on the fact that you really can make Bread In Five Minutes a Day. Now we are talking hands on time, that five minutes doesn’t include rise times. But this is fresh, beautiful, DELICIOUS bread that you can make AND accomplish your to-do list too! The one I use most frequently is Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Here’s the gist of it. You make up a batch of dough which will take you about 5 minutes. You let it rise for 2-3 hours (depending on the recipe). You put it in the fridge and pull out and use when you want bread (or pizza crust, buns, breadsticks) within the next 2 weeks. It takes about 3-5 minutes of hands on time to form a loaf and then you let it rise and bake it. It’s super easy and extremely versatile. Not to mention good for the budget! Heck, these guys even went so far to figure out how to cook bread in your crockpot so you didn’t have to turn on the oven in the summer!
So are you ready to try?
Artisan Bread in Five’s Basic Recipe
Artisan Bread in Five’s Whole Wheat Brioche Recipe (which is to die for!)
Here’s the process in pictures:
This plus some water is all it takes!
Measure and mix. It’s a good work out for your arms. Sometimes I will use my hnds to get the last bits of flour worked in.
The mixed dough will still be pretty wet. That’s OK!
This stuff really grows!
The risen dough will become flat on the top.
Form your loaves. You can make them as big or as small as you want! And let them rise again!
Risen loaves, washed, scored and ready for the oven.
And 30 minutes later you have this! YUM!
The recipe that I baked today is “100% Whole Wheat , Plain and Simple” from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
I was lucky enough to get to take a class with Jeff before we moved from the Twin Cities. This was just before the release of their third book Artisan Pizza and Flat Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It was a wonderful class and the breads of course were divine. Type A me learned a great lesson from him to!
A Lesson from Jeff – It doesn’t have to be perfect.
I was working hard to make everything look like it came from the grocery store. Make the pizza crust perfectly round. Shape the loaf of bread just so. Jeff reminded me that people are much more concerned with how the food tastes than how it looks (with in reason). Does anyone in my house care that their pizza looks more like an amoeboid than a circle? Not at all – I actually score more points with my kiddo when they look weirder! Same goes for the breads. So what if no two loaves look the same. It’s ARTISAN baking, therefore take each loaf as it’s own piece of art!
A couple of notes:
Don’t feel like you have to go buy a lot of equipment to do this. Any big covered tub (I started with a Rubbermaid) will work just fine. I still don’t own a bread wisk. A baking stone is essential if you want the hard artisan crust, but if you don’t have one just use a cookie sheet. Your crust won’t be quite as hard but the bread will still be great. Until you have a stone, the peel doesn’t matter. If you have a stone but no peel, just use a cookie sheet!
So what are you waiting for – go bake some bread already!
© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.