Friday, January 22, 2010
Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day - Master Recipe
I've always been a little intimidated about making bread at home. The real process requires hours of time for the dough to aerate and develop flavor and texture, requiring a baker to plan well in advance when fresh bread will be on the menu. 2010 is the year that I put this phobia behind me. I'm very excited to be a part of a group of food bloggers who are baking (but not kneading) our ways through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, a new book by Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoe Francois. They've built a method of bread baking that bypasses several steps of the traditional method and allows bakers to easily mix bread dough that can be used for up to two weeks when stored in the refrigerator. All of the recipes in HB in 5 include whole grains and wholesome ingredients. Their unique method is ideal for bakers who want fresh bread often, but lack the foresight to know when they'll want it. It's like this book was written just for me!
Our first challenge was to mix the Master Recipe from Healthy Breads. Part of the dough was shaped into a loaf and baked plain. It had a chewy, soft crumb with lots of tunnels. With a bowl of homemade turkey noodle soup, this bread made a really hearty wintertime meal. I especially liked it sliced and lightly toasted.
One third of the dough was shaped into an epi, a gorgeous decorative loaf that I haven't quite mastered yet. First the bread dough is gently coaxed into a baguette shape. Long, shallow cuts are made with kitchen shears down the length of the bread. The resulting scales are positioned to alternate to the left and right of the loaf. When it's baked, the epi should look a bit like leaves coming off of a vine. My cuts were a little wonky, so instead of leaves my epi looks slightly lumpy. I need to cut longer scales next time.
The remaining portion of the Master Recipe bread dough was turned into spicy crackers. With the help of lots of flour, the dough is rolled out paper thin, sprinkled with seasoning, and cut into strips with a pizza wheel. My cupboard was stocked with cayenne pepper, so the dough was dusted with that and a few granules of coarse sea salt. The baked crackers were crisp and spicy, and paired wonderfully with simple hummus. I loved the differences in shapes and sizes, caused by the dough stretching as it was transferred to the baking sheet. Very lovely.
You can find other interpretations of these recipes through Michelle of Big Black Dogs. She's the host of this group, and has been fantastic at organizing a schedule for all of us bakers.