Every early to mid-July, I get the same question from Nate: “So, um, what are you into these days?” Which is really code for, “I am in desperate need of birthday present ideas for you.” In the early years, I would take him to the mall and “casually” point out things in shop windows that I liked. But as of late, I’ve begun embracing this techy world of ours, and creating an Amazon wishlist for just such occasions.
And, as you can imagine, my list is filled with cook books and kitchen tools (along with the occasional Fraiser season thrown in for good measure), and happily, Nate took the hint. This year, my birthday was filled with kitchen supplies and baking and cook books, one of the most exciting being Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day.
I had heard about this book from a number of different blogs that I frequent, and everyone agreed that it couldn’t be beat. And since my battle cry has been “quick and easy!” as of late, I knew it was the book for me.
I started with the recipe for boule (pronounced like “boo-ll”), that crusty French bread you see at your local grocery store. And though the directions are a little involved (the authors of this book really want you to understand the process), the actual making of the dough was pretty darn easy. Especially since it requires zero kneading and zero punching. You just combine the yeast, salt, water and flour and let ‘er rise.
My first attempt at wrangling the dough to prep it for baking was a little harrowing. Bits were sticking to my fingers and I seemed to have more dough coating my hands than in the ball I was trying to form. After a few attempts, I realized that, though the authors caution you not to use a dump-truck load of flour to work the dough, you will need way more than a few sprinkles. With a good flour-y coating, my dough was ready for the oven.
After 25 minutes, my boule was done and, well, you be the judge of the end result (my very first attempt is shown in the photo above). And not only was it good lookin’, it tasted really delicious. Moist but with a nice, crackly crust, Nate and I split this bread with some yummy Irish butter (next time, we’ll definitely add jam as well).
Happily, the boule is just the first of many recipes in this awesome book. Next on my list? Challah, The King of Bread.