In an effort to be more frugal and stay within my grocery budget, I’ve taken to making bread at home. We’ve used our bread machine with success many times, but I don’t like having a hole in the bottom of my bread (from the mixing blade in the bread machine).
I came across Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day at the bookstore and requested it from the library. I’m so happy that I did.
First, you mix warm water, yeast, salt, and flour in a container with a lid. You let it sit, covered, on the counter for two hours. Then, you can make some bread. If you don’t want to bake that day, you put the container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
You only have to mix. You don’t have to knead the dough.
When you’re ready to bake, you sprinkle the dough with flour, cut out a piece, and shape it. Then, you put it on a surface (or in my case, a bread pan, because I wanted a loaf shape instead of a round shape) to rise. If you haven’t refrigerated the dough, you let it rise 40 min. If the dough is cold, you let it rise 1 hr, 40 min. You don’t have to cover it or make sure the temperature is just right for rising.
20 minutes into the rising time, you turn on your oven, with an empty pan with sides in the bottom (I use a round cake pan). This pan will be to hold hot water. If you plan to use a pizza stone, you stick that it to heat up, too.
At baking time, after slicing some slits in your bread (I always have trouble remembering to do this), you put your bread in the oven (on the pizza stone or in your loaf pan) and also pour about 1 cup of hot water in the pan at the bottom of the oven. This will produce steam and make the crust of your bread hard. Bake for 30 minutes and you have fantastic bread!
Let’s say that you finish that bread partway through the week and you want to make another loaf… All you have to do is take your bread dough out of the fridge, shape it, let it rise, and then bake it!
When you finish the dough in the container, don’t wash it, because the dough gains more of a sourdough flavor over time. Instead, leave the container in the fridge until you’re ready to mix another batch of dough. I tend to mix a batch every weekend or two.
If your fridge is large enough to accommodate the container, you can mix double, triple, etc. batches of the dough.
The book also contains additional bread recipes, as well as how to use the dough for pizzas, etc.