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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Homemade Goodness

There are plenty of freshly baked breads around, but mostly not very good. Bakemart seems to be the default place to get a decent croissant or baguette. However the loaves of multigrains or brown breads are quite disappointing. The bread texture is so light that after being in the toaster, it disintegrates.

We used to have a breadmaking machine and it was good having fresh homemade bread especially when we could time it so we wake up to some amazing aromas. But I lost the paddle part and never found the replacement so the machine became useless.

Then I found out about the no knead bread concept, first from canadian chef Michael Smith on the cooking show Chef at Home. It looked easy, just mix and leave dough overnight and bake the next day. I never tried it but kept it at the back of my mind to try it someday.

A week ago, I started to look up his recipe again but found something else that might be even easier. Artisan bread in 5 minutes. Jeff Hertzberg and his wife, Zoe Francois stripped down breadmaking to it's basic steps and ingredients to include just salt, water, yeast and flour.

Without kneading and just putting all the said ingredients in a bucket and left in the fridge to rise overnight, one can have fresh dough the next morning. Taking a batch of this risen dough, shaping to desired shape and left to rise in 20 minutes while the oven heats up, you can have crusty bread after baking for only 15 minutes.

Sounds too good to be true so I had to try it.

Last night I put the measured ingredients in a plastic box with a loose lid and it sat on the counter to rise for 2 hours before I left it in the fridge.

Here's what it looked like after mixing everything together with a wooden spoon. The idea was just to incorporate everything together and that only took about a minute.

The dough was very wet and that is the secret apparently.

Jeff and Zoe tells you to leave the mixture for 2 hours on the kitchen counter before placing it in the fridge, but I forgot and left it out for 3 hours before chilling it. Don't think it caused any problems. You can see the air pockets within the dough already.

This morning, I grabbed a grapefruit sized dough out of the box and shaped it into an oval. This I left to rise for about 20 minutes while I turned the oven on. However the dough didn't really rise after 20 minutes so I left it for another 15 before baking it.

When the time as up, I felt that my bun had only marginally risen but decided to bake it anyway. The dough   went into the hot oven and in just 15 minutes, I had an incredible crusty loaf. In fact, the bread puffed up while it was baking.

I should have waited for it to cool down, but I could not wait to taste this baby.

The texture inside was lovely, full of flavour and slightly chewy but the crust was the star of the show definitely. I smeared some cold butter on it and my current favourite jam from Dean + Deluca's Apple Pear Cinnamon Jam.

I am officially a believer.

Now I cannot wait to have breakfast tomorrow or I might dip it into some virgin olive oil for a snack later.

This is one recipe to keep and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a foolproof recipe for home made bread. This recipe is good for making pizzas, flatbreads and the book has gluten free recipes too. One of the videos actually showed Jeff making flatbread by frying it in oil in a frying pan, outdoors, at a campsite, so you see, an oven is not even required.

Check out this video if you take my word for how easy this is.

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