Casual cooks love the phrase "I just throw stuff in as a I go, I never measure; that's why I hate to bake". Somehow we have come to regard baking as tedious, exacting and perhaps even a bit fastidious. Ironically, my professional chef friends tell me that the key to turning out perfect meals in high-end restaurants every night is to measure everything. Perhaps that sheds some light on why so many chefs get their start in baking. Nevertheless, if you have been reading any of the Simple To Me food posts on this site, you
will know that I am anything but exacting. Regardless of the importance of measurments in the pro kitchen, for most of us when the going gets tough, we get out of the kitchen. For others its a factor of time - there is just not enough of it in the day.
Fortunately a recent episode of American Public Radio's The Splendid Table introduced us to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. You can get the basic recipe on the Splendid Table site.We have spent some time with the basic recipe and absolutely loved the results. It is not that this is the best bread we have had, but it is certainly the easiest we have ever made. Susan made a boule the other night that was crispy and crackly on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside. My baguette (ab0ve) was a tad more dense than I would prefer, but I am only picking nits since it took me all of five minutes to shape and toss into the oven.
Buyers beware. Some digging around the net has uncovered a bit of a conspiracy. It would appear that a contingency on the internet is claiming that the the book is just a reworking of this recipe from the New York Times (2006). There are clear similarities, but how many truly novel ideas are there? Ok maybe those suspended chemicals from El Buli count.
The bottom line is that five minutes of dough making on a Sunday means freash bread all week long. You keep the dough in the fridge and simply pull out enough for dinner each night. There's no kneading, just shape it however you like. Toss it into a hot oven on a pizza stone and put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. By the time dinner is ready you have some great homeade bread.