Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baking (and not kneading) Bread

Until I got the Food Matters Cook Book by Mark Bittman, I made my own bread maybe like five times in my life. In the book, Bittman gives numerous no-knead recipes for bread, baguettes, pizza dough, pitas, flatbread, etc. His 2006 New York Times article talked about the no-knead secrets of a New York baker, Jim Lahey. He posted a recipe for no-knead bread he adapted from Lahey's techniques. It became a huge phenomenon, and Bittman revamped the recipe a few times, posting recipes for Faster No-Knead Bread and Fast No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread. His recipe for Whole Wheat Bread in the Food Matters Cook Book that I posted is slightly different from those but has the same idea: mix a few ingredients in a bowl, let it sit for 12 hours, pour it into a bread pan, let it rise, then bake it.

I have made it every single week since the first time I made it. I mix up the dough on Friday night, let it sit overnight, and have fresh-baked bread by Noon on Saturday to last me the week. The texture is perfect--crunchy on the outside, chewy and hearty on the inside. It tastes amazing. And it saves me money. $7 of ingredients will make six loaves of this homemade bread. My preferred whole-wheat bread at the grocery store is $3.89 a loaf--$23.34 for six loaves. So, I'm saving $16.34.Yesterday I also made Bittman's recipe for Mostly Whole-Wheat Baguettes. I've made them twice before; they were good but tasted just like bread. This time I must have done it right: they tasted exactly like baguettes. They were soooo good that I couldn't stop myself from immediately eating one whole loaf of the four I made. These don't look like much, but they were delicious.Lesson learned: baking my own bread using Bittman's simple recipes is the only way to go!

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