Friday, February 5, 2010

Artisan Breads Made Easy

The anticipation of having a slice of hot home baked bread with butter is for most of us a desire we seldom indulge in yet, it just became easier to do. You are probably thinking yeah right. Well thanks to a new book that I have just been introduced to, you to can have hot homemade bread daily. The book is "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. This book is a keeper in my opinion, it is loaded with tons of recipes for different types of artisan breads. Very easy to read and understand. The basic concept is that you make a wet dough that is never kneaded and can sit in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. Then when you want some bread pull out about a grapefruit size piece round it off and let sit on the counter for 40 minutes and then bake. Viola you have a wonderful dense crusty bread. The basic recipe they call their master recipe is based on 6-3-3-13. Which translates into 6 cups hot water, 3 tbs yeast, 3 tbs salt and 13 cups flour. You just mix together until flour is incorporated and then let rise on the counter for 2 hours and starts to fall then cover and refrigerate. This recipe will make approximately 8 - 1 pound loaves of bread. The other beauty is that the flavor improves as the dough ages in the refrigerator and if you can't use it fast enough you can freeze it in 1 pound packages till you need or want it. Of course the recipe can also be halved or quartered.

In addition to artisan breads we learned to braid bread. My niece, Gina, was gracious to come and teach us how to braid using her family's "Yummy White Bread" recipe. The experience was a hands on one and even though it looks easy it still takes practice. I definitely have to practice. That's why when we have a family get together she usually gets asked to bring the bread. Thanks Gina! The basics of braiding are difficult for me to explain with words and so I'll just have to leave it at that.
Here is the recipe we used for the braiding although any bread recipe you have could be used.

Yummy White Bread

In a small bowl Mix 1 tsp sugar, 2 pakages of yeast (4 1/2 tsp), 1 cup warm water

In mixer or large bowl put 5 cups flour, 4 tbsp sugar, 4 tsp salt and 1 1/3 cup powdered milk and stir. Now add 4 cups warm water, 1/4 cup oil and mix on low then add yeast mixture. Continue stirring and add 3-5 cups more flour until it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Mix on low or knead by hand till smooth. Divide into 4 loaf pans and raise till double and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.

Our recipe for today was made by Emily and it was fantastic. It is pantry worthy and for that it receives extra points.

Baked Tuna Surprise

4 pkg Top Ramen cooked
2 cans cream of mushroom or chicken
1 1/2 cans of evaporated milk
2-3 cans tuna

Cook Ramen per package directions adding the seasoning packet. Drain off water and mix together with other ingredients and pour into 9x13 pan and cover with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Can add veggies if you desire.