Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Five" Minute Bread

After determining that the gluten free diet wasn't really helping my knees all that much and realizing how much I missed bread, I have gone to a GF diet by day and a gluten-allowed diet by night. The only other "rule" is that when I eat bread, pizza or some other gluten-laden product, I make it myself. Needless to say, this caveat in my bread eating allowance prevents me from eating lots of stuff I might otherwise choose. Also, it has inspired me to do a lot more bread baking.

I have had a bread machine for the past 3 years and I have used it quite a bit, but I have to say that the results have been uneven. I have made some fabulous breads, but also had some real duds. Recently, I have used the machine mostly to make the dough which I then bake in the oven. I have also tried the No Knead Bread that Mark Bittman and others have written about at length. It was good, but I wasn't overwhelmed.

Then a couple of weeks ago when I was in the library looking for books on GF baking, I found the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The premise is that, much like the No Knead method, you can make a big batch of bread dough, keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and then bake bread as you need it with great success. The basic recipes can be used for a variety of breads. From one bucket of plain dough you could make, a bagette, pita, pizza dough, ciabatta, boule, bread sticks etc. Choose a sweet dough and you could make brioche, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, bagels, muffins etc.

Call me a convert. I have now tried four or five recipes from the book and its sequel, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and they have all been amazing. The loaf pictured above was one of the most delicious things I have ever baked. (Sorry for the small pic - I ran down the battery in my camera and had to resort to a picture with my phone. Bad blogger!) If you like bread at all, I highly recommend these books.

A few things to note: The "five minutes" claim is a little deceptive. It does take about five minutes to mix the ingredients, but in order to actually get a good loaf, you need to let your dough rest for 40 to 90 minutes before baking (depending on the temperature of the dough - colder dough = more rest) and then bake it for 30-45 minutes. That being said, you can also use the dough straight out of the fridge to make delicious flatbread  in about 20 minutes not counting the time it takes to preheat your oven. The pita we made was so good, I cannot understand why we don't eat it every night. Kara and Jamie demolished this bread in minutes.

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