Make your own bread
CLOSE TO HOME by John McPherson
For years, I’d had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with baking bread.
Several years ago, the outrageous price for decent bread was met headlong by a book and its intriguing title: “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.”
If what I was seeing was correct and the title was not a trick, this would qualify as “too good to be true.”
It’s true, but not too good to be true.
On most Saturdays,
I take about 10 minutes to make up the Master Recipe. (Find it online at www.artisanbreadinfive.com, complete with photos and detailed instructions.)
The ingredients are simple: water, flour, yeast and salt. That’s it. No eggs, oil or sugar. I measure the ingredients and mix to incorporate. I pick up the bowl, dump the dough into my proofing box (a 40cup plastic container with a lid), leave it on the counter for two hours and then move it to the refrigerator. All of this takes just a few minutes and makes enough dough for eight small loaves that will last two weeks in the fridge.
When I want to bake a loaf, I open the box, grab a wad of dough, dust it with a little flour, shape it quickly and set it on a wooden peel. As the oven heats and I do other things, there it sits for 40 minutes to an hour. I place it on a baking stone and pop it into the oven, and in about 30 minutes we have fresh, European bakery-style bread that is just to die for.
Since I became a BYOBer, I’ve used the master dough to make breadsticks, soft pretzels, pizza and dinner rolls.
Here’s the best part: A decent loaf of bread at my grocery store is now closing in on $4. A loaf of my homemade artisan bread? That costs about 40 cents. EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE