When I saw lessthanperfectmama’s post called The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Bread Baking, I knew it was time for a bread post. A year ago, if you had asked me, I would have told you quite emphatically that I do not bake. Not bread, not cakes, not cookies. No baking.
Then I got interested in learning some basic homesteading skills. I downloaded a book called The Weekend Homesteader to my kindle, and the first project that grabbed my attention was bread making. I tried it a few times, and it totally worked! Good bread! But I couldn’t get the crust quite right.
Then I found a recipe for a no knead bread on Pinterest that looked like it would give me the desired results by baking in a Dutch oven.
And it did! I had a loaf with a crispy, leathery, strong crust. It was amazing! And the family raved. But it required planning ahead and an overnight rise, and planning ahead isn’t something I am super wonderful at.
I can’t remember how I stumbled across the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes technique. I think I must have heard rumblings over on Pinterest. I got a copy of their book (a real copy, not an ebook), and gave it a shot. The ease and success blew me away. Suddenly, I was making loaf after delicious, crusty loaf. Then pizzas. Then cinnamon rolls.
The idea behind the ABin5 technique is that you make a very large batch of dough, enough for four or so loaves, and store the dough in the fridge until you need it. So you’ve just always got dough laying around to whip into something.
The books suggest that you bake the bread on a hot pizza stone, but after doing this for a year, I really do find that I prefer to bake it in a dutch oven. When I turn on the oven to preheat, I just pop in the dutch oven to preheat as well. I preheat for a full 30 minutes to make sure the dutch oven is hot. I shape my dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and then just drop the whole thing, paper and all, into the dutch oven after the 40 minute rest period. Halfway through the baking time, I take the lid off the dutch oven to let the crust brown. The results are consistent and perfect every single time!
It’s hard to complain about having fresh bread all the time. It warms the house during the cold winter, makes everything smell good, and it’s good food for my family. I’m still learning to master the whole grain recipes. I’ve not had good luck with those. The loaves come out dense. But my grandma bought me a scale for Christmas, so I am hoping that weighing the ingredients will provide a more exact measure and improve the texture of the finished loaf. I will certainly keep you posted.
All in all, I really recommend the ABin5 books. I have every single one, and I love them. The naan recipe in the flatbreads book not only makes amazing naan, but also fantastic pizza crust! The English Granary Bread in the original book is a family favorite, and the Limpa bread is amazing!