Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I have been baking bread for years and I am pretty good at it. Even when a loaf comes out looking funny, it usually tastes good. ( This is my own personal baking curse. Things that I bake taste delicious but they often look like crap.)

My first foray into baking was brought on by a vegetarian I was dating who pressed Laurel's Kitchen into my hands with a fervor that should have sent me running right then and there. The loaves I produced from the Laurel's Kitchen recipe could very well have doubled as bricks. Really, I could have built a house out of them, a sturdy house. They were dense, heavy as a door stop and virtually inedible. I sawed through a loaf or two and was so demoralized, I gave up, dumped the vegetarian and made friends with the guy at the bakery.

Enter Frank. He gave me a copy of The Tassajara Bread Book early on in our relationship. The bread baker in me was completely reborn. I baked bread for anyone who would take a loaf and it was very good bread.

So it was these two books that shaped my ideas of bread-baking and over the years I've cobbled together a pretty successful way to do it. I've learned what I can disregard in a recipe and what I can't, when it is okay to throw in a half cup of leftover mashed potatoes or a little bit of cornmeal for crunch.

I have used bread machines. We would never have had bread when Max was a baby if I hadn't. I own a perfectly fine one right now. They can create a loaf that's tasty, serviceable but bread machines cannot create a proper crust.

All this brings me to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking. I mixed up some dough using their rather unorthodox protocol of very little mixing, no kneading, only one preliminary rise and then the dough goes into the fridge. I've taken chunks of dough out to bake on two separate occasions and the bread was fantastic! The book claims that the dough takes on a bit of a sourdoughish tang and I didn't believe that for a minute, but it is really true. The bread has a beautiful chewy crumb with a crisp crust that looked as good as it tasted. I've only tried the basic boule recipe but I can't wait to try some others.

I'm sorry I don't have a photo for you – and I'd love to say oh, we ate the bread up so quickly I didn't have time to get a shot but alas, I did have a great shot that disappeared this morning in an ill begotten attempt at cleaning up my desktop.


  1. Oh man, I made a couple of door stops from Laurel's Kitchen. Haven't tried to bake since.

  2. I love the 5 minute bread:) I am a total bread making addict another really good book which is more involved in terms of process and more labour intensive but worth all the effort is Dan Lepard - The handmade loaf