Friday 25 May 2012

Rainy Day Artisan Bread

It's been pouring with rain all day. This is quite unusual and I can't remember the last time it rained this hard. Anyway, whenever the day gets like this; cold, damp and grey - grey inside and outside, I think about my Kaffee WIP (because it's so bright and cheerful)! You knew there had to be one of these, didn't you?! It hasn't made it to WOW yet, but it's in the queueueueue....

So I pulled out my WIP stash, but it was too dark in my sewing studio to do any serious WIP work, even with all the lights blazing, so I decided to direct my energies elsewhere - into my kitchen for my monthly bread bake!

Every 4-5 weeks I bake a batch of bread and freeze it for later. Interestingly, I probably eat bread less now than I have my life before, but that doesn't change my need to have really excellent quality bread available at all times. 20 years ago, I used to knead bread and go to quite a lot of effort to produce my loaves (I still wonder where I found the time???) Then, 15 years ago, I bought a bread machine and programmed it every day to bake a fresh loaf. It was good, but it was never crusty in the way I wanted. I still think bread machines are better than store bought loaves, but now my bread machine is stored away in the garage somewhere and I haven't used it in years.

For the last 10 years I have been making my own no knead bread which is based on a fermentation method. It's actually super easy to make wonderful bread once you know how - it's nearly effortless. I keep a container in the fridge of my 'suspended' dough for weeks at a time (it improves with age), and when I want fresh bread, I simply break some away, let it rise and then bake it!

In the past when I have been asked about how I bake my bread, no one believed me! But there really isn't any secret recipe. It's very simple. So I was really pleased when I found out that "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" was published a few years ago, as now I direct everyone to read this book. The starter recipe is almost exactly the same as the one I had been using, and in fact I changed to using the one in this book.

It's the only bread making book you need.

I was going to demonstrate how I make my bread in a post, but there's really no need as the authors of the above book have listed a free starter recipe complete with pictures along the way, so it's an excellent place to start. From their website it also looks like they have published even more books on this method since I looked into it, and I think it might be gaining in popularity.

With most things in my life I have reached a point of wanting to find better ways to do things, but I always thought bread was one thing you really had to commit a lot of time to to get just right. Well, it's hard to believe, but when it comes to excellent European bread, simplification really has been the way to perfection. 

Today I made 7 rye sourdough loaves

And I'm so pleased to have made this wet day into a really productive day as it's another thing off my list. Leaving them to go cold once you've taken them out of the oven and leaving them alone
is the hardest part.

Resist if you can....I never can!

And after checking the crumb (first pic), I will let them go completely cold before slicing and wrapping them for freezing. It's fine to freeze this bread and this frozen batch is what I will use for toast for the next few months when I want instant bread on the spot. When I have an hour or more (say, for dinner), I will simply pull some wet dough from my starter in the fridge, let it rise 45 minutes (for large rolls), and then bake it for warm fresh bread to serve with soups and salads.

With the rest of my day I think I will look at my knitting WIPs, anything I don't have to really look at as it is so dreary inside.

I'd love to know what bread you like to eat best?


  1. I have their book and it makes bread making so so easy.

  2. Definitely going to check out the recipe we love Rye Bread! And it was a much better way to spend the day....I was OUT in it!!!!! I am quite sure my car now has an outboard motor!!!

  3. Well I still use my bread-maker to mix my dough till it is risen, I make up my own recipes depending what I want, never the pre-made bread mixes.Like you Esther I have been making my own bread by hand since I was 20 but 10 years ago my son gave me a bread cooker he no longer wanted I feel in love with it as it was sooo quick, but I also missed my crunchy crusts so 18 months ago when my breadmaker failed to cook the dough I pulled it out turned my oven on to high popped the tin in the oven and hey presto a lovely crunchy loaf. SO now when I want that extra nice loaf I knead it by hand again just before the oven in the bread maker comes on make it in to free standing loafs are buns and in to my kitchen oven. Every now and then I try commercial bread but it never does any thing for my taste buds so back to my own making or with help from my bread maker????? Cheers Glenda

  4. Thanks for the information about the bread! I looked up the web site and their video and am really interested in it. I love sour dough bread best and I have been thinking about starting something like that. This looks very easy and delicious. I love bread!

  5. My favorite bread is the crusty Italian that my father and I would buy straight from the bakery after Sunday Mass. I can still get it from my local market, since it has its own bakery department.

    Thank you for sharing the starter-DH has been talking about us making our own bread, since the commercial ones are getting more expensive-but the slices are getting thinner.

  6. nice post thanks for sharing...looking for to visit more blessings

  7. Esther whe I get home I am going to try this bread it looks yummy. We are in Paris enjoying the weather, wine and seeing all the wonderful sights. Had a day on an open tour buss it was glorious.

  8. I like to eat home-made bread, doesn't matter what kind it is. I have made bread since I was in high school and make it for my family for all the holidays. I have just taken my first loaf of Artisan bread out of the oven, I don't know if I can wait til it cools off to cut it, eeeeeh! I baked it on a 9 1/2" cast iron griddel and it was plenty big enough. What do you bake yours on?
    Thanks for the inspiration to get this done...


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