I know this is a little off topic for this blog, but I love to cook and thought I would share. I don't think there's anything I love more than a new recipe or trying something I've never done before. Recently I started making bread which turns out is a lot of fun and cheap. In America we have seen the local bakery die and we let it happen. Supermarkets started offering baked goods and who is going to make a second stop just for bread? No one it seems so the bakery died along side the cassette tape and now the American public is stuck with mediocre baked items that are not really that fresh and not really that well made.
Can you make bread better than an european artisan with his or her own bakery? No, probably not, but can you make bread better and cheaper than what you can get from the store? Yeah, for sure you can and I have found the book that can get you there. Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day was recommended to me by my sister-in-law and it's an amazing book. It teaches you how to make a high water no knead dough that can be storable in the fridge for up to 14 days. When you want some fresh bread you just cut off a pieces of the dough, form your loaf, let it rise for 40 minutes, and bake. If you don't count the time it takes to rises and cook you spent less than 5 minutes dealing with the dough.
I think everyone should try this so here is the basic no knead dough recipe for a french boule.
Recipe and can be doubled or halved easily
French Boule Dough
6 1/2 cups Unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt
1 1/2 Teblespoons Dry Active Yeast
3 cups water - preferable 100 degrees but no hotter
Combine water salt and yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolve in the water. Add 6 1/2 cups of flour to a large bowl. Make sure to use a single cup measuring cup to not compact the flour while measuring. You might also want to transfer some flour into a bowl so you can scoop up the flour without packing it in the measuring cup. Combine wet and dry ingredients with a wooden spoon or mixer with a dough hook until there is no dry spots. Cover and let it sit on the counter for 2 hours and then place in the fridge over night or at least 3 hours before attempting to make a loaf of bread.
When you are ready to make a loaf just cut off a 1lb piece, about the size of a grapefruit, and cloak it into a ball. Let is rest on a pizza peel or cutting board covered with cornmeal or just flour to prevent it from sticking. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes before setting your oven on 450 with a bread or pizza stone on the middle rack. You can use a cookie sheet but it's better to have a baking stone. Also place a boiler pan in the oven on another shelf. After 20 more minutes move the bread to the oven place on bread stone and pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the boiler pan. Close the door and cool for 25-30 minutes. When the bread is golden brown and hard on the outside it's done. Pull it out and let it rest on a cooling rack.
I think you will be amazed at how easy it was and how delicious the bread is. I think everyone should go out and buy this book. There are several different kinds of bread you can make with this dough, but the book doesn't stop there. They go on to teach you how to make several other types of dough for all kinds of baked delights. The book is $15 bucks over at Amazon and it's a must have if you like fresh bread but don't have the time to deal with it.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (See all Bread Baking Books)