Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Artisan Bread & Cinnamon Butter

Can you believe I baked this bread?

I still can't believe it. But I did have a little help.

A few weeks ago, I read a book review on Scribbit. Michelle raved about a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, written by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Michelle followed the simple instructions in the book, and easily turned out beautiful loaves of bread.

Could it really be true? I have great memories of my mother and Aunt Jennifer baking bread together on Thanksgiving. They spent hours in the kitchen mixing dough, letting it rise, and braiding it into beautiful and delicious loaves. And so I've wanted to do the same. Only I fail miserably.

A few years ago, I put a King Arthur Flour bread baking book on my Christmas list. I received it from my sister-in-law, and was so excited to try it. I mean, any bread book by King Arthur Flour is like a bread Bible, right? The problem was, I couldn't get it right. I did everything according to the directions, but my bread slumped over in the oven and made a giant mess all over the baking stone. It wasn't edible.

So I was intrigued by Michelle's review, but wasn't quite a believer. I did my research, reading reviews on Amazon. Even self-proclaimed bread snobs said this book was a winner. I bought it Friday night, then held my breath and made the dough on Saturday.

Everything went according to plan. The master recipe in the book is for a Boule dough, which is an artisan free-form loaf. I added water, yeast, and salt into my stand mixer, then dumped in the flour all at once. (You can also mix by hand.) About a minute later, I had bread dough. That was it, no blooming the yeast or kneading. I let it rise on the counter for a couple of hours, and popped it into the fridge.

And it still looked good the next morning. I formed a loaf and set it on the counter to rest. I preheated the oven. I told Chris I was afraid to bake it. Everything was going along so perfectly, and here was the test. It couldn't possibly be this easy.

Imagine how excited I was when a perfect loaf of bread was ready just thirty minutes later. The best thing about this recipe (besides the fact that it makes delicious bread) is that you mix enough dough for four one-pound loaves. Then you just store it in the refrigerator for up to fourteen days, taking what you need as you bake. So I popped in another loaf. When it was finished, it looked even better than the first.

I felt like an accomplished baker when I took these to Rachel's for Sunday dinner. And I had a huge feeling of satisfaction when they were gobbled up, to rave reviews.

I made a new batch of dough with Evie this morning, and it's waiting in the fridge. After I'm sure I've mastered this recipe, I'm on to the Vermont Cheddar Bread recipe. Or the Olive Bread recipe. Or maybe I'll get brave and try Bagels or Pretzels or Naan. Or Brioche. All I know, is this book has given me the confidence to try them all!

I served the loaves Sunday with a simple Cinnamon Butter.

Cinnamon Butter
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. honey
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

Cream butter in mixer. Add honey and cinnamon, and mix until fully incorporated. Chill before serving.

Lisa hosts Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays over at Blessed with Grace. Visit her for more yummy recipes!


Fiona said...

Ok, I've been seeing this recipe all over the food blogs but this clinches it. If you thought it was really easy then I'm trying it.

Is it bad that there's a part of me that thinks, "If I make freshly-baked bread for Iain I'm The Best Mother EVAR!" ?? It's bad, isn't it?

SarahHub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SarahHub said...

Fiona - You should definitely try it! I am still amazed that it works so well and is so easy!

And anything you do out of love for your child is good, of course. Baking this yummy bread is certainly LOVE!

Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings said...

I love to bake bread! I have read several blogs where they metioned the awesomeness of this book. I am just going to have to get my hands on one!

Jerri said...

I love homemade bread. This sounds delicious!

sandy said...

I am so impressed. I just love the smell of bread baking. Nothing smells more delicious and inviting!

Thank you so much for sharing the cinnamon butter recipe. It sounds lovely. I'll have to try it!

Nicole Feliciano said...

Nice work, fresh bread is such a glorious thing. I did a cookbook review and hope you'll stop by. If you have time, I invite you to join in my recipe/food post exchange here:


Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

I am the world's WORST yeast bread baker. I have never had any success with it - I can never get it to rise properly. So, if you say this works, then I'm defintiely trying it, because I LOVE the smell and taste of a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Kristen said...

I was "yeast challenged" for years until one day, I decided I was smarter than the yeast bread. I am glad that you are having success, too. I have seen enough bloggers praising this book that I am going to have to see about it. Bagels are easy, by the way!