The Weekend Gourmet: Adventures in Bread Baking...or How I Finally Conquered My Fear of Yeast! F

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adventures in Bread Baking...or How I Finally Conquered My Fear of Yeast!

In my experience, every cook has a food or cooking technique that intimidates them, so they tend to avoid it out of fear of failure. For some cooks, it's making a pot of risotto. For others, it's making the perfect souffle. For me? I've always been intimidated by cooking with yeast, so I've never made a loaf of bread with my own two hands. I used to have a bread machine years ago, but I mostly buy my bread from the superb bakery at my beloved Central Market.

Yeast has been my nemesis for as long as I can remember. And it's sort of sad since my Great Gramma Buckholt is legendary in my family for making THE best-ever homemade rolls and bread. She taught my Mom how to make them, but I never have taken the time to learn. Until now? She must have been looking down from The Great Kitchen in the Sky and shaking her head at me. One of my 2011 Foodie Resolutions was to make a loaf of bread -- from scratch -- and slather it with real butter before gobbling it up. I finally got up the nerve to do just that thanks to my dear friend Erin. She's an excellent baker, and she assured me that she'd turn me into a bread baker in the course of my visit last weekend. 

She recently found a really great recipe that's so easy that even I wasn't intimidated by it. The dough is simple to whip up, makes enough for four loaves of bread, and lasts in the fridge for up to two weeks. Best of all? No kneading is required. This sounded like the PERFECT recipe for me to get started with! The recipe is from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The authors are Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois. Zoe just so happens to be a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher...her website is Zoe Bakes, so go by and check out some of her other fantastic recipes and stunning photos!! Their website Bread in 5 Minutes has a great video that demonstrates their simple bread-making technique in specific detail, so go check it out!

If I can do this? Then I promise that ANYBODY can do this and get the same amazing results!! This is the first time I've ever made a loaf of homemade bread, and this recipe was just the confidence-booster that I needed. I decided to start with a basic French boule. It came out golden and crunchy on the outside, and the interior was moist and flavorful. We tweaked the original recipe just a smidge based on Erin's experience using this recipe in the Texas humidity. We upped the yeast just a tad and reduced the salt just a tad. Otherwise? We followed the recipe exactly.

Lickity Split Artisan Bread
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day


Step 1:  Gather your ingredients and a five-quart plastic container with a removable lid. You'll need Kosher salt, all-purpose flour, yeast, and warm water. That's it! The original recipe calls for using a pizza peel and a baking stone to bake the bread. However, a sturdy cookie sheet and parchment paper is a perfectly good substitute.


Step 2:  Add 3 cups of lukewarm water to your plastic container. Add 2 level tbs. of yeast and 1 tbs. of Kosher salt to the water. Give it a stir, then add 6 1/2 cups of flour. Stir well to combine. I started out with a wooden spoon, but ended up using my hands to get it to combine completely.


Step 3: Place the lid on top of the container, but leave it partially open on one side to allow gas to escape. Set the container on the counter for 2 hours. The dough will rise during this time. Don't punch it down at the end of the rise. Instead, place it in the fridge -- with the lid open on one side -- for up to two weeks. You can make a loaf of bread immediately after the rise, but the dough is easier to handle once it has chilled for a few hours.


Step 4:  When you're ready to bake a loaf of bread, sprinkle your pizza peel or parchment with cornmeal -- this will keep the dough from sticking. Sprinkle the surface of the dough in your container with flour. Pull up and cut 1/4 of the dough from the container. Place the dough in your hands and add more flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Move the dough under as your turn it in your hands, until a ball is formed. This takes about 30 seconds.  Place the dough on the pizza peel or parchment. 


Step 5:  Let the bread rest for about 30 minutes. While the bread is resting/rising, preheat your oven and pizza stone to 450 -- place the stone on the top rack of the oven. Place a pan on the lower rack as well. After the bread has rested and the oven and stone are hot, cut an X in to top of the bread with a serrated knife. Dust liberally with more flour.


Step 6:  Transfer the bread to the pizza stone. Add 1 cup of water to the pan you placed on the rack underneath the bread. Immediately close the oven door so the steam stays inside. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, until it's golden and the crust is firm to the touch.


Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting with a serrated bread knife. Serve warm, with real butter. Bread this good deserves the real deal!


This bread is truly fabulous -- it's full of flavor, and the crust is nice and crunchy. I could hardly believe that I made it with my own two hands! It was so simple to make that I can see myself having a container of this dough in my fridge at all times so I can whip up a loaf of bread or dinner rolls in no time flat. I plan to buy the cookbook so I can try more of the five-minute bread doughs that are in the book.

So...I can officially cross bread making off my list of most-feared culinary experiences. I'd like to think that Gramma Buckholt is smiling down at me and my first bread-making adventure!!

27 comments:

  1. One of my favorite bread recipes is America's Test Kitchen's Almost No Knead bread. I made it for the first time this past New Year's Eve and it's awesome. The results appear similar to what you're showing here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your bread turned out very well! Congrats on overcoming your fear of yeast!! I used to be intimidated by cheesecake because it would either crack or sink or be lumpy... but not anymore!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful! I bet it tasted awesome! I gonna try it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're my hero! I STILL have never baked with yeast! I'm inspired by your beautiful bread!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank the gods you faced your fear! Your whole world will improve with this under your belt! It looks great!:)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Bravo, well done! Next time you come down, bring Michael and your Gramma Edith's recipe so we can give 'er a whirl.
    --Erin

    ReplyDelete
  7. Woohooo for overcoming your yeast fear. I love working with yeast but fear the deep fryer. We all have fears. :)
    Yje bread looks great. That crust ... would bite right into it.
    Thanks for sharing Wendy, hope you're having a great time.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Glad you conquered your fear! Homemade bread is just the best, isn't it? One of my fave things to with the leftover, slightly stale pieces is panzanella, and artisan bread works great!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wendy, wouldn't you estimate it took you about 10 minutes and 40 seconds of hands-on time to make that loaf? That's faster than a trip to the grocery store.
    --Erin

    ReplyDelete
  10. Congrats on conquering your foodie fear. Looks like you soared with flying colors. The bread looks perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Erin -
    Yes...about five minutes to whip up the dough, then the resting time is hands-off. Prepping and shaping the loaf takes about 1 minute, then the resting and baking. Easy peasy and so so good!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Congratulations on your superb bread, Wendy! The step-by-step directions are so great with the beautiful photos. You are so right about not being difficult to make homemade bread. If you didn't mention that this is your first homemade bread, I would not have believed it.

    One question...Is it 1.5 Tablespoon salt, or 1.5 teaspoon?

    ReplyDelete
  13. @Elisabeth: The original recipe calls for 1.5 TBS of Kosher salt, but we reduced it to 1 TBS. I fixed the recipe above.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the look of your bread. I am a big fan of a crunchy crust, and you have made it so simple. I have taken the first step by making bread in my bread machine but I think it is time for me to fly solo and try it with my bare hands. Thanks for your step-by-step instructions.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Congratulations on conquering your fear of yeast!!! Your bread is gorgeous, so now I have to make my first loaf of bread. Your step by step instructions are great. I still have that fear to conquer.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beautifully baked! Great with butter and raspberry jam.... MMmmmmmmmmmm

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have this cookbook but haven't done anything with it yet! Your bread came out so great that I'll have to crack it open and give it a try!

    ReplyDelete
  18. You hit a homerun with your first loaf! Beautiful, Wendy!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks...I'm so glad that my first attempt at bread baking was successful. It definitely boosted my confidence!! The cookbook has a great dough recipe similar to this that can be used for focaccia and pizza. I think that'll be my next experiment.

    ReplyDelete
  20. My dad gave me a great focaccia recipe from Julia CHild. I will give it a try and let you know how it comes out.
    --Erin

    ReplyDelete
  21. you are so brave! i just commented on a blog about my fear of yeast and bread... i might have to channel your confidence and give it a shot

    ReplyDelete
  22. Congratulations on your fabulous bread! It is gorgeous & thanks for sharing your experience:)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Congrats Wendy on taming the yeasty beasty. I knew you had it in you. Five minutes, who could beat that. Your bread came out so nice looking too.
    -Gina-

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ah! This makes me so happy. You did an amazing job. Your bread is drool-worthy! Thank you for sharing with me tonight...I'm sorry I've been gone so long! Your blog continues to bring a smile to my face. I hope you have a blessed Sunday!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Congratulations! You have been awarded the “Versatile Blogger” Award. Visit france59.wordpress.com to find out more about it!

    ReplyDelete
  26. my problem is not just that i'm afraid of yeast, but that i'm afraid if i have this around the house, i'll eat the whole thing!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Excellent. What a great step by step I have to try this.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing your feedback!!!

Follow by Email

Search This Site

Loading...

Translate Text

Red Gold Blog Council

Red Gold Blog Council

Hamilton Beach

Hamilton Beach

Stonyfield Organic Yogurt

Stonyfield Organic Yogurt

Best Salmon Recipe

Best Salmon Recipe

Google+ Followers

 
Designed by Munchkin Land Designs • Copyright 2013 • All Rights Reserved