Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

I've been wanting to make bread all summer long, except that it has been too hot to even think of heating the oven long enough to bake bread. I have managed to go the entire summer without turning on the air conditioning (yay, utility bill) by opening up the windows after the temperature has cooled off. So last night, all the stars came together, (weather cool, boule made, sufficient time) and I baked my first loaf. Ta da! Here it is. I made it with an all purpose, unbleached whole grain flour courtesy of my sister and Costco. It was chewy and flavorful and crusty after baking on a pizza stone. I also got the pizza peel this weekend in San Francisco at Sur La Table and seasoned it up with mineral oil so it slid right off the peel (use the edible mineral oil for constipation found in the pharmacy section of the grocery store, don't use a cooking oil).

I suppose that if I lived in Europe, I would not be compelled to bake my own bread but I don't think that the Europeans would tolerate the current list of ingredients now in bread. The last couple of times that I opened a package of bread, it didn't smell like bread but slightly like the chemical aisle in the hardware store where all the pesticides are sold. Particularly repulsive are the hot dog and hamburger buns. When we looked up the ingredients on Wikipedia, I was taken aback by the fact that one of the preservatives is used as a foaming agent in plastic. Of course, the article goes on to say that all of the gas is burned off in the baking process. Is that why it smells so bad? Even the artisan bread at the local grocery store has a list of ingredients longer than I want. Here is what I want my ingredient list for bread to say: flour, salt, yeast and water. Okay maybe some flavorings but certainly not any combination of this list of additives. I am willing to live with the fact that bread made without additives will not last 2 weeks in a plastic bag but I'm thinking that the stores need the longer shelf life since customers are buying/wasting as much food in the past.

So, while my sister has been making bread with an Italian sourdough starter from Ishcia which I plan to bake with next time, I opted for the basic recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I've ordered the book from Amazon but in the meantime, the basic recipe was in an article in Mother Earth News. Can't wait to make focaccia, pizza and hamburger buns!