I'm Not Oprah, But I Do Have A List Of Favorite Things And This Is Number One
I have now conquered the only two cooking fears I have ever had, canning and bread making. This year, thanks to Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day I now make our bread. I have always made almost everything we eat from scratch but I just assumed that bread was going to be impossible. For starters, my kitchen would still be considered small if we were hobbits and i have almost no counter space so i had no space for kneading and punching and whatever you have to do to manhandle bread dough and it looked far too time consuming, what with rising, resting, rising again, punching, resting. Just not going to happen.
Enter this fabulous book and suddenly homemade bread became easy and required no counter space. I didn't have to manhandle it and I would always have bread dough waiting for me in the fridge so that i didn't have to plan all day for it. These beautiful looking, free form loafs look like they took days to make and they certainly get you a ton of accolades and oohs and ahhs when you offer to bring a loaf of fresh from the oven bread to dinner. Who doesn't like to impress their friends and family from time to time? It helps if you show up at dinner with a bit of flour in your hair and just a bit dusted on your pant leg for effect.
I have made lots of different recipes from that book, I have added dried fruits and nuts and cheese and pesto and tried to make it more wholesome by experimenting with the addition of whole grain flours, etc. My only complaint was that I don't like to eat white bread on a daily basis and i am blessed with a kid who loves nutty, seedy, crunchy, grainy bread and I didn't really want to get him too used to the taste and texture of white bread.
It was like they heard me complaining because the next thing you know, they came out with another book but this time it was all whole grain breads!
I have made the whole wheat olive oil bread dough for pizza (oh how I wish that I had been blogging for the grilled pizza fiasco but there is always next summer and it's not like we ever got the hang of it) and it was delicious. I also made a nice boule using that dough but I am still in love with the basic whole wheat recipe so I am not straying too far from that yet. I make it plain, I add toasted nuts and dried cranberries, a mix of seeds on the top crust and last night i added caramelized onions and a nice, sharp cheddar and did a kosher salt/rosemary crust. Shack and I loved it, but Little Shack was not fooled and immediately knew that there was onion in there and for the first time ever, refused to eat it.
The moral of this story is "don't be afraid of bread because a trained monkey could turn out an impressive artisan boule using this method and i assume that all of you are at least as competent as a trained monkey and if you are not, well you probably shouldn't be using a hot stove in the first place"