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I can’t remember the last time we bought bread.

I can’t remember the last time we bought bread.
April 24, 2009 Mary Jo

I’ve been meaning for some time now to report on our new bread program, but have been delayed for a number of reasons:

1.  I just had this baby.

2.  I couldn’t seem to remember to take any impressive “fresh out of the oven” pics before our pack of salivating bread bandits attacked the newest loaf.

3.  I really, really enjoyed the wide-eyed admiration I received when showing up with or presenting a fresh-baked loaf to guests.  Revealing how disgustingly easy it is for any Joe Schmo to make equally-impressive bread will surely taint the Domestic Goddess Rock Star status I’ve attained.  It’s an illusion, folks.  Sadly, an illusion.

4.  Soule Mama recently posted about her own bread program, and while I think the sun pretty much rises and sets over the Soule house in Portland, I am trying very hard to resist the temptation to turn my own blog into a cheap imitation of Soule Mama’s.

The bread program we’ve been following now for a few months comes straight from the popular, much-blogged-about Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  Really, who doesn’t have 5 minutes a day for fresh-baked, crusty bread?  I bought the book after reading Angry Chicken’s rave reviews, but like many books that I have to immediately run out and get, dropping everything else in mid-air, it arrived home to sit on the shelf and percolate for quite a while.  Over Christmas, I aquired some bulk flour bins (shown above), as well as some bulk flour and shortly thereafter made my first loaf.  As cliche as it is, the rest is history.  With this simple method, I’ve managed to kick my addiction to locally-made sourdough baguettes, saving us some money on the weekly grocery bill as well as adding some whole wheat flour to the diet.  We also stopped buying the multi-purpose soft sandwich bread.

How does it work?  It’s basically a No-Knead bread that you mix up in bulk, refrigerate, then forget about for 2 hours or until you’re ready to bake.  Then you pull out a piece, work it for about 30 seconds, let it rise for 40 min to 1 1/2 hours, and bake on a stone.  Easy-breezy. So easy, in fact, that you could find yourself pulling out a batch to rise and bake in the wee hours of your early labor, making sure that all present for the birth of your baby have access to fresh bread.  It is that good and that easy.

I’ve experimented with baking it free form on the stone, for a beautiful, rustic-looking loaf as well as in a loaf pan, for a more sandwich-friendly shape.  Equally good.  Above is about half of a pan-style loaf.  Below is a free form loaf, again half-eaten.  Let that be a testimonial for how good this bread is.

Isn’t it beautiful?  I might add that it’s the perfect companion to a mouth-watering mix of olive oil and basalmic vinegar or goat cheese or anything else you can muster from your fridge. Store it standing on end on your bread board to keep the crust from going soft and to keep the crumb from getting too dry.

Would you like to try it?  You can find some background info and also THE RECIPE here, from the generous folks at Mother Earth News.  I adjust the recipe by replacing about 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat bread flour to add some nutritional value.  It seems to be a good proportion and doesn’t weigh the bread down.

And with that, I’ve blown my cover, shattered the myth that I am Bread Baker Extraordinare.  Sigh.  It was fun while it lasted.  Do me a favor and act real impressed the next time I show up with a loaf to share.

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