Sunday, January 2, 2011

New year, old stuff

Wow.  Welcome to 2011.  I had grand plans for blogging in December, and toward the end of the months, things just got away from me.  (Especially with the cookies--my apologies to my friends for not finishing the Saveur cookie baking project.)  But it's a new month and a new year, and I'm starting fresh.  I've been trying to decide what I want to accomplish this year.  2008 was my first year of blogging--lots of TWD and Daring Bakers.  2009 was the year of bread--starting with getting ABin5 for Christmas (08), challenging myself with Baking Your Own Bread, making croissants, starting the BBA Challenge.  2010 was the year I tackled sourdough, from Crusty Cheese Bread to Panettone.  So far I only have a few things on the slate for 2011.  I want to learn to temper chocolate.  It's one of the few techniques that really scare me.  But hey, if I can handle caramel without fear, I can do chocolate, right?  The second thing was inspired by my friend Kayte.  Last year (and again this year, I think), she has strived to use the things she already has, rather than buying new stuff.  I'm not going to say that I won't buy anything new, but I really do want to make use of the many, many baking & cooking books that I already own.  The third thing is to get back on track with baking my own bread.  Last year, I still did more of it than most people, but it got pushed to the back burner a lot due to timing.  I want to get better organized with it this year.  

So this post is about two of those things, anyway.  (No chocolate yet, sorry.)  Baking more bread, and using stuff I already have.  What helped me bake lots of bread in the beginning was Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  No-knead bread, using dough that you mix up, let proof for a couple hours, then stick in your fridge and bake when you want.  I pulled the book off the shelf, and looked for a recipe to get started.  (I actually did this last week.)   Semolina is a favorite of mine, and I realized that I'd never made the Semolina Bread recipe because I didn't have durum flour.  But thanks to a couple orders from King Arthur, I'm now well-stocked.  One reason that I stopped doing the ABin5 method is that the 6-quart dough container just takes up too much room in my fridge.  So I decided to scale the recipe to fit in my 4-quart container (which is the same height but a much smaller diameter).  

I do most of my measurements by weight these days.  The full ABin5 recipe calls for 2 pounds of flour, which is roughly 900 grams.  Two-thirds of that is 600 grams.  I did 200 grams of durum flour and 400 grams of bread flour (I wanted chewy bread in this case).  Two-thirds of the water is 2 cups, or about 450 grams.  I used 10 grams of instant yeast and 14 grams of kosher salt for my adjusted recipe.  I measured everything directly into my dough bucket (more about that here) and mixed it with my handy dough whisk.  The dough spent a couple hours on the counter, then went into the fridge for the night.  That was Wednesday.  Thursday morning before work, I took half of the dough and formed it into a batard.  I let it warm up and rise on a sheet of parchment on my peel for about an hour.  Then I dusted it with flour, slashed it, and baked it for about 35 minutes.  For the first ten minutes of the baking time, I covered the loaf with a disposable aluminum pan instead of pouring water into a steam tray.  

The verdict?  This bread was excellent with some garlic butter, and paired nicely with our pasta dinner Thursday night.  I'd forgotten how easy the whole ABin5 process is.  I'm definitely going to be doing more of it.  I love making bread with lots of different techniques, but this one is great for getting something baked & on the table quickly.  The rest of the dough was baked the next morning, shaped as a Dragon Tail Baguette (sorry, no good pics--will do some next time), and was served with bean soup for dinner.  Overall, the results were better than I remember, probably because I'm so much better at shaping now, even with wet doughs.  I kind of wish I'd made a full batch, since this only made two loaves, but there just isn't that much room in my fridge right now.  And hey, that means I can try something new that much sooner! =)  

If you'd like to try your hand at no-knead bread, head on over to the ABin5 website.  If you're new to their technique, this is a good place to get started.  If you like what you see, buy the book.  And if you're a little crazy and want to start baking all your own bread, join in the BYOB adventure.  To see lots of other yummy bread and other yeasted treats, check out Yeastspotting!


  1. I've never tried the ABinD. Sounds so easy for dinner - I always struggle with how to get fresh bread on the table on a weeknight. And I can't wait to hear about your adventures w/ chocolate - tempering both fascinates and scares me!

  2. I love chewy bread. I have this book but haven't really done much with it. No room in the fridge for a dough box/bucket.

    Good luck with the tempering. I have had good luck with it - sometimes. HaHa

    Bread looks perfect

  3. I have yet to try bread; i have not gotten up the courage to try playing with yeast.
    This looks very nice, even fancy! I would love to see something like this on the dining room table! Time to get up that courage!!

  4. I bought the Healthy Bread in 5 book a long time ago, and can you believe I haven't made anything from it? Your post inspires me to pull it out and finally try a recipe. Your bread looks awesome, and what isn't delicious with garlic butter? :)

    As for the chocolate tempering, I've seen a few episodes of Barefoot Contessa where she uses an easy microwave method for tempering - might be worth checking out.

  5. Such beautiful bread! You really can shape a loaf. My hat's off to you. Love the platter (gift from J?). I finally found a long thin platter that fits my rectangular tart mold, on sale at Target.