I have been baking a lot lately. Not all sweets (well, I still do bake a lot of cookies for the guys in my office and Kevin's office). I looove to bake. It truly is the kitchen task I enjoy the most. There is something very relaxing and comforting about baking to me. However, when you are trying to live healthy baking all the time is probably not the best thing to do. That is one of the reasons I make a lot of cookies for the guys...I get to enjoy the process, they enjoy the end result, and I enjoy having something to hold over them to get what I want! OK OK, that last part was a joke...well, sorta.
My latest baking love is bread.
Rustic, hearty, simple bread. I never really made bread. Working with yeast always seemed complicated (it is not) and I always thought you would need a bread machine (you don't) to make it easier.
As it turns out, all I needed was my Kitchen-Aid with the dough hook (got that), a few simple, pure ingredients (got those), a baking stone (got one of these, too), and this fabulous book...
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
I so do not want to ever eat bread from a plastic bag ever again. And with this book there is seriously no need to. The authors (geniuses, in my opinion!) truly have made baking bread so easy! Seriously! Their master recipe, the rustic boule, has all of four ingredients. Four! Water, yeast, salt, and flour. That is it!
So, does it really only take five minutes? No. But is it quick? Yes! The concept is their recipes make a very wet dough, allowing you to make large amounts of dough that will keep in the refrigerator for up to 14 days. Literally each Sunday I make a batch of dough then have plenty ready to go any day or night to pop in the oven. That is where the "five minute" concept comes in. When you first mix the dough there is no kneading. Simply put the dough in a large bowl and let it rise for a few hours. Then you can cover it loosely and pop it in the fridge. When you want to bake a loaf, you cut off a piece, "gluten cloak" the dough for about a minute (literally just a quick stretching and forming of the dough in to the desired shape) let it rise for about twenty minutes (the time it would take for the oven to pre-heat anyway), then it is ready to bake. And in no time at all, you have this...
...warm, hearty, healthy, delicious!
I have baked loaves with white flour and wheat flour. I have baked olive oil bread, and bread studded with fresh herbs (rosemary is particularly yummy!). There are still many more recipes in the book to try. Pizza dough is on my list, as are pitas and naan.
doesn't that look amazing???
What I love, especially about the master recipe, is the longer the dough is in the fridge it "ages" and takes on a sourdough quality without having to deal with sourdough starter.
Now, with all this bread baking I am not using it as an excuse to eat as much bread as I want. It is still bread after all! But I feel better about us eating something that I am 100% sure of what's in it. It is so simple and pure. And there is something so satisfying about sitting at your desk at work, and you pull out the sandwich you brought for lunch, and that lean turkey and veggies is sandwiched between two fresh slices of healthy, rustic bread you baked yourself!
Next time I will take more pictures of the process. I get so in to it I don't think of the camera till we are ready to dig in to a fresh loaf!
If you like homemade bread but think it is too much of a hassle to make, or if you have baked it in the past and were not satisfied with the end result then do yourself a favor and try this book. Because, really, whether it is bread or something else, nothing tastes as good as homemade food made from scratch!
*DISCLOSURE: I was not paid for nor was I even asked to do a review of this book. I bought this book on my own and enjoy it so I am sharing. I am, however, a member of Amazon Associates. If you click through the above link and purchase the book I will earn credit toward an Amazon gift card.