March 9 - March 16, 2008
After the pot luck where I brought the Irish soda bread, I came home and made a batch of Five-Minute Artisan peasant bread. First, I translated all the cups and tablespoons to weights, and then I mixed up a big batch of dough.
Although the book says just to stir it together without kneading, I couldn't resist kneading it for a few minutes because I thought that might develop the flavor more. In the morning I made one little one-pound loaf, which, because my photographer was away for the week, did not even get photographed. I managed to eat this baby peasant loaf all by myself in the course of a week, just by having a piece of toast every morning. I decided the one-pound loaves were a little too small, so I ended up making three loaves of bread from the master recipe, instead of four tiny loaves.
Yesterday, I made a torpedo loaf from half the remaining dough. I let it rise more than the recommended 40 minutes because that amount of time, directly from the refrigerator, results in almost no rising at all, and too much oven spring.
I put the shaped loaf in LaCouche's oblong pan, which Jim calls the Bread Coffin, and let it sit for a few hours. It still didn't do much rising--I think because it had been in the refrigerator for nearly a full week.
After a week, the flavor is definitely different. A little funky, or more fully-developed, depending on how you want to look at it. Jim loved the crust, but was not in love with the taste.
Sarah, on the other hand, could have eaten the whole loaf, although she has developed the Marginal Utility theory of eating, which holds that the first few bites of anything are the most satisfying, and your second helping of even something delicious will never be as good as the first helping. Once you have digested this theory, so to speak, you should be able to stop eating before the marginal utility goes down. She's going to write a diet book on this theory and make millions. I cut two pieces of bread for everyone, however, and she ate two.
You're supposed to be able to keep the Artisan bread dough in your refrigerator for two weeks, but I was a little doubtful about whether it would keep for another week, so I chopped up some Kalamata olives and tossed them in the last bowl of dough. This was an excellent idea.
Blended with the olives, the bread no longer had that sort of funkiness that it had on its own. (In fact, it didn't have it when it was toasted, either, which makes me wonder if I was imagining it). I also think this olive bread turned out to be the handsomest loaf of the bunch.
I'm still of two minds about this Five-Minute bread. The upside (having three or four loaves of bread at the ready) is, for me anyway, also the downside: being committed to having the same kind of bread for a couple of weeks. I really enjoy going through books and magazines, figuring out what bread I'm going to make this weekend, so having a giant bin of one kind of bread dough takes a lot of the fun out of bread-baking for me. But if you like having a familiar bread always ready to take out of the refrigerator and bake, I guess this is not a downside for you.