After Isaac was born, time was short, and we resorted to buying bread once again, though I felt a bit guilty every time I put a loaf in our shopping cart. Now that Isaac is able to play for a few minutes without constant supervision, I am once again delving back into the world of bread baking. Still in search of the perfect bread recipe, I decided to try a few new techniques. A couple weeks ago, I began a sourdough starter. I tried baking a loaf (actually, a boule, a freeform ball-shaped loaf) a few days ago using the baking stone and pizza peel Curtis got our family for Christmas. I didn't bake it long enough and it didn't taste any different than regular white bread, BUT the homemade butter we made to go along with it was yummy! It was our first time making butter, and a bit of an exercise in faith that the cream would actually turn into butter if we kept shaking (and shaking, and shaking) long enough, but it worked. It is funny how something as simple as shaking a couple cups of heavy cream in a glass jar with a pebble (we didn't have a marble) thrown in for agitation produces butter. And buttermilk, of course, which I poured off and used to make some fabulous buttermilk blueberry pancakes on Saturday morning.
So the sourdough recipe needs some tweaking. In the meantime, I tried the method in the book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day with a truly fantastic result . The basic premise of this book is that you can mix up a large batch of dough, store it in the refrigerator, and then lop off a chunk to bake a fresh little loaf whenever you want. I was a bit skeptical of the basic recipe, which contains only water, yeast, flour and salt, but followed it to the letter using our new baking stone. The result was amazing. Truly. With a crispy crust and a soft, chewy inside, it tastes just like Mom used to make. While I originally thought, "OK, who really needs to make bread everyday?" The answer is...us, apparently. Because it was so good we ate it in less than 24 hours. But that's just fine because I made another one today, and it really does require just a few minutes of work. The basic recipe uses white flour, but I am excited to try it with wheat as well. The authors also have a new book out called Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes A Day, which I may have to try if we are going to keep eating it up so fast. Until then, we are enjoying our daily bread and the wonderful smells wafting through our house.