Everyone knows that the best time to delve into the world of bread baking is soon after having a baby. What? Crazy talk you say? Maybe not. I've been getting onto the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day bandwagon lately and finding that it's completely feasible, even easy, for families (including new parents) to bake their own bread.
Having never baked my own bread before (I dimly recall a few failed experiments more than a decade ago), my attention was grabbed by the title of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois 2007 book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Usually with titles like this my initial intrigue is quickly walloped over the head by a strong dose of suspicion and skepticism, but I must say that I'm becoming a convert to their method and their bread (as are the 257 5-star reviewers on Amazon).
You can find the master recipe* (which makes a classic boule) online and the book contains recipes for many other kinds of bread as well as a multitude of sweet and savory bread-based recipes. To give you a quick rundown, the idea is to stir together water, yeast, salt and flour into a large container that you store in the fridge for up to two weeks. There's an initial rise time, but no kneading! When you're ready to bake a loaf, take out a portion of the dough, form it into a ball, let it rise on the counter and bake. Voila! I'm skipping over some of the subtleties of the process, but this gives you the gist of it. (The Kitchn reviewed the book and method and that's worth a read.)
There are other popular no-knead recipes around, but the reason I like this recipe for families is that a "batch" of dough makes four loaves (the recipe can be halved or doubled) so once you've done the initial work, it really only takes a few minutes (plus rising time) to get a loaf (or rolls, pretzels, pizza etc.) in the oven. I've found it incredibly easy to bring a batch together in a few minutes and then take just a few more minutes each time I want to bake off a loaf. It's so quick that I haven't needed to wait for our baby's naps in order to fit it into the routine. It's also inexpensive, healthy and delicious.
Have you tried it? Jeff and Zoë also have a blog with additional tips and recipes.
* There have been a few revisions to the master recipe which can be found here.
(photo by Carrie McBride)