Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let's Break Bread

“I would say to housewives, be not daunted by one failure, nor by twenty. Resolve that you will have good bread, and never cease striving after this result till you have effected it. If persons without brains can accomplish this, why cannot you?”
’Housekeeping In Old Virginia' Marion Cabell Tyree ed. (1878)

I've always been fascinated with the Breaking of Bread together.  It implies being together with those you esteem in some manner and sharing. And bread in some form is found in every culture in the world.  In Biblical times it was a major staple.

An attorney I worked for was also really big into breaking bread with his employees at least once a year. It was very important to him to sit down to a meal with all of us and show us that he loved us. Because to him (an Italian) there was nothing you could do to honor someone that was higher in importance than breaking bread together.  I loved that about him.

And lets fact it....nothing smells better than fresh bread baking. And warm bread right out of the oven?  Niiicccceeee.

And I grew up with those smells.  My grandfather made some amazing dinner yeast rolls that were so good.  My father would make his recipe sometimes.  And dad also had his own biscuit and cornbread recipes that were fabulous.  

But bread is work.  At least really good bread is.  And I'm not so much into the work aspect of bread.  Just being honest.  I don't like to knead. I hate getting my hands into food. 

So I've been watching with interest all the excitement in blog land over this book.

Bread in five minutes a day?  Right.  In my dreams maybe.  Nothing is that easy.

But more and more people talked about it.  And when Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom talked about it, then I knew I had to give it a try.

And it really was THAT easy.  And that quick.  And I only have to touch it once. (LOL)

And there are several master recipes in this book so there are lots of things to try. We love making Naan bread using one of them.  But the first master recipe is our favorite so far.  

I'm not going to share the recipe because you really need to own the book. This bread is as much about the process as it is about the recipe.  

But I am going to walk you through the steps to show you just how easy it is.

This is your first tool that you really need for this type of bread.  Because you are not going to knead this stuff. The tool will do the work for you.  In about 2 minutes.
You just add your ingredients to your mixer.  In our case our favorite recipe has only 4 ingredients. No fat.  None.  Flour, yeast, water, salt. Now, the flour is non-bleached white flour. You get rid of regular white flour altogether in your kitchen and just start using unbleached. Its still white. And its missing the bleaching chemicals.
Mix it up - takes about two minutes. Not kidding. You just want it all mixed.
It is a slightly wet and not really smooth texture. But as long as its all mixed together, it is done.
Your next tool is a food grade container that breathes.  I have not bough one of these yet so I'm using a large tupperware bowl.  I just sit the lid on instead of sealing it so the air/oxygen can get in and out. The breathing is important.  As soon as we get settled somewhere I will buy one of the bread containers made for this purpose.
Let it sit for two hours -- I usually do this on the stove.  The yeast rises. Now you are done for the day.  Set that cover back on the top, remembering not to seal it, and put it in the refrigerator.  For the best flavors you want it to sit overnight.  And it can stay in the fridge for up to 14 days. This is important as this batch will make four smaller loaves and you have two weeks to do it.  You can do it on 4 different days.

The next day, or whenever you are ready to bake, 30 minutes before you want to put it in the oven you pull it out and sprinkle the top with your flour to make it easier to handle.  Now you grad the size handful that you want (after dusting your hands with flour also).
And you sort of roll the edges underneath for a minute. Kind of like you are making a hat or something.  And this is the only point in the process where I have to touch the dough.
This is also where your next tool comes in.  A pizza peel.  You put cornmeal on the pizza peel so that the dough will be easy to flip onto the stone in the oven when it is time.  I suppose you could improvise here, but I'm not into burning myself so I bought the peel. Mine is bamboo but there are all different kinds.
I am baking two loaves as we are having hummus and bread so I put both on the peel.  Now I set my oven timer for 10 minutes.
Now I prep my oven.  You put a stone on the top shelf. That is what you will bake the bread on.  Also, you will notice I have a thermometer - you are to bake at 450 and you want to be true to that. I find my oven needs to be set on 475 to actually read 450. On the second shelf I use my broiler pan as my water pan.  One of the things that makes the crust so good on this bread is the steam that rises from this pan while cooking.

When the timer goes off I reset it for another 20 minutes and turn on the oven. The stone needs to preheat for 20 minutes while the bread is finishing its rise time.  (Which it really doesn't rise much at all - don't be alarmed if it looks the same as when you put it on the peel.)
The trickiest part to the whole process is flipping/sliding the dough from the peel to the stone.  I can now do two at a time and get them where I want them on the first toss.  Do this quickly and then pour water into the pan and close the door as quickly as possible so as little steam comes out as you can manage.

Now they bake for 30 minutes.
And then they are done.  I will say that this recipe is better is you let the bread cool all the way before eating. The texture is different when cool than when hot.  
And one of our favorite dinners is served.  Salad with hummus and bread.

Yum.  Hubs LOVES it. REALLY loves it.  

So its really that easy.  Please try this.  Find the book at your library and give it a try.  We are now to the point where we hate to buy bread at the store....even the fancy expensive stuff doesn't taste this good.  And let me know if you do and what you think!



  1. I am actually the opposite in the fact that I love to get my hands down in the dough... but I just don't have time lately. I finally broke down and bought a bread machine when I found one at a thrift store. Just today had to pick up powdered milk for a recipe I have been meaning to try. We'll see how it goes.
    That recipe you described sounds fabulous. I may have to try it too. Pillsbury "Bread Flour" really does seem to make a difference when making bread, if you want to give it a try. Enjoy your creations!

  2. Yum!!! Your bread turned out so pretty! I am ashamed that I am still too lazy to make it. LOL I will use the excuse that I don't have that beautiful mixer. :o)

  3. For the bread machine I do use the bread flour - you are right it makes a big difference. But for these recipes from the book only the unbleached seems to get that texture just right. I wonder if its the difference in the kneading time.

  4. Without that pretty mixer I wouldn't make the bread! It mixes it in like 2 minutes.