Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cookbook Corner - new book edition

     So I recently decided to clear out a block of free time in the evenings to really focus on bread baking and either get it down or determine that it's not my thing and let it go.  Toward that end, I "had" to go to Barnes and Noble to get one of the many no-knead bread books on the shelves.   I have been hearing about this new "no knead" bread method for quite a while, but just hadn't gotten around to trying it out.  Mr EA and I considered Artisan Bread Baking in 5 minutes a Day  and My Bread by Jim Lahey.  While they both offered a credible set of recipes and method explanation, we felt that Artisan Bread has more items we would use.  Also, we had the impression there were more varieties of bread and less bread-adjacent stuff.  We already have things to go with bread, we just wanted bread. 
     In the past week and a half, I have made two batches of dough, which came out to something like 7-8 loaves of bread, and one batch of bagel dough.  I have been baking up a storm, and it has all been good!  The authors have presented a great new way to bake bread that is easier and less hassle, and yeilds excellent results.  The title is somewhat misleading, however.  Baking a loaf of bread takes more than 5 minutes, although your personal involvement will be around 5 minutes, unless you hover a lot.  I don't want to give away the end, but basically what you do is mix up a big batch of dough - about 4 loaves worth - and let it rise in the fridge for a while.  Then when you want to bake up a loaf, just whack off a chunk of dough, shape it and let it rise, and pop it in the over with a pan of water for steam.  It is much easier, and I have gotten much better results than with traditional methods.
     I wasn't a horrible bread baker before this, but my bread was usually heavier than I would have liked, and results were somewhat hit or miss.  I don't have a lot of counter space for kneading, so I kind of gave it short shrift.  Now that I don't have to knead, and I can mix one batch and bake bread off of that for days, I do a lot more than I had in the past. 
     There are a lot of recipes I haven't gotten into yet - nothing but the basic white bread and the bagels, really.  I sort of wanted to make sure the basic recipe worked before I got into esoteric stuff.  However, I am heartened by my success, and will be branching out - I'll let you know how it works out when I do! 
     Is this book for everyone?  No, probably not.  People who are afraid of carbs, or don't want to bake, or are already accomplished bakers will not find much here that they are interested in.  However, if you have an interest in being a better baker and/or are lazy (as I am), check it out - you'll be glad you did!

No comments: