with food, there’s always something new

5-minute artisanal bread

Indy is bread wasteland.

All over the country people are making and selling great bread, but in Indianapolis it’s mediocre and pricey. I know, I know, somewhere in the 12th (or is it the 13th?) largest city someone’s making decent bread. There’s bound to be a baker, tucked away, making bread comparable to the finest in Chicago or New York. He or she is in Zionsville, or Danville, far off and inconvenient.

You can drive all around half the state in search of free-range chicken, but bread needs to be close at hand.

Listening to Splendid Table, I was intrigued by 5-minute artisanal bread. Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg, devotees of the no-knead school of breadbaking, developed a recipe for artisanal bread that requires only four ingredients (yeast, salt, water and flour) takes no time and no kneading.

I’d meant to make Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread. Every food blogger in the universe made it and raved about it. This recipe seemed a better deal, bread on demand.

I mixed it, refrigerated it overnight, pulled it out the next morning and baked it. Hot, homey, boozy, yeasty, crunchy bread. Not artisanal bread, but bread nonetheless.  

The principle behind no-knead bread is wet dough. High water content lets you skip the kneading. It also makes messy, wet, gooey dough that’s hard to handle and shape.

The authors say it gets better with age, but my bread tasted the same. Even though my bread didn’t live up to the oohs, aahs and coos bestowed by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, I’ll make it again.

Children should make this recipe. They delight over rising dough. They relish messy textures. They can make loaves to their taste and size. They can decorate bread with seeds, nuts and dried fruits. They can make pizza.

Children who make this bread fall under the spell of real bread and learn there is more in life than microwaved Poptarts.

Recipe notes: The recipes says use a pizza peel, but you don’t need it. Place wax or parchment paper on a cutting board and use a spatula to move the bread onto the pizza stone. You can also substitute a cast-iron skillet for the broiler pan, much more convenient. You have to have the pizza stone, but you should own one anyway, they’re inexpensive ($10-$15) and you can find one anywhere.

Written by Susan Gillie

February 25, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in the 2nd hunger

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