Monday, November 22, 2010

Give Me, Every Day, Some Bread

No, this isn't a post on the Lord's Prayer. It is a post on bread, because I tried a recipe from a cool book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François.

My dad turned 75 on Sunday and I got him this book I'd read about that promised artisanal breadmaking skills (and bread) in five minutes a day. Trick is to get a big, food grade tub and mix enough dough to make four, 1 lb. loaves, let it rise, and pop it in the fridge. No kneading. So I ordered it for him and an extra book and tub for me. I also got him a sushi-making class (two hours of instruction, along with wine)...which, yeah, I'll go along for also. He gave me half his genes, so the food presents are his fault, I figure.

I grew up making bread. My mom ground her own wheat and we made whole wheat bread in loaf pans every few days. I liked kneading it and watching it rise, but it took time. My brother and I used to cut slices of it and toast it with butter and sugar on it. I also used to melt a big hunk of cheese on a thick slice of it for breakfast (I read the book Heidi and she did that). It was wonderful.

I've got this friend at church who makes brilliant bread. He makes boules and baguettes, not just loaf pan bread. We have soup suppers on Wednesday nights before our various classes for kids and adults, and he always makes the bread. I love the soup, don't get me wrong, but I go for the bread. And for the class I co-teach, of course. I love those kids.

My friend's bread is like what you find in a great bakery, and that's what I wanted to learn how to do. Then along comes this book into my life. I don't even remember how, probably on some food website. A few clicks on and voila! In my fridge is a tub of dough with three loaves worth of bread left in it. Theoretically, it can sit for up to 14 days. You cut off a hunk, shape it, let it sit for 40 minutes and pop it onto a hot stone in your oven for a half an hour and then, just like that, there is a boule cooling on your countertop.

Of course, the book does not describe the fact that, if you're at my house, you spend part of that half hour waving your dishtowel beneath the smoke detector that's going off because your oven needs to be cleaner. Apparently the term "self-cleaning" in "self-cleaning oven" doesn't mean it will actually clean it's ownself.

Tangent aside, there is a crust of bread left on the cutting board. I don't hold out high hopes that it'll last much longer than tomorrow morning. I'm making challah next for the Thanksgiving dressing, and then on to baguettes. Right after, that is, I clean the stupid oven.

I hope Dad likes his present, I really do. Because I love his present ;-) Now I just need to figure out what we...I mean getting for Christmas.

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