February 23, 2010

Tasty Winter Hobby

My DH has been working on the craft of Artisan bread baking this winter. For his birthday, I got him a couple of books to help out. The one pictured above is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. This is a bowl full of the yeasty mass of dough that is the basic mix. It says in the fridge and you just pull out a hunk whenever you want a fresh loaf. It keeps for a while, so with just a little effort you get a big return!

This loaf is rising nicely in the oven as it cooks on our baking stone. The dough for this loaf was made using the whole grain version of the basic recipe, found in the companion book by the same authors -Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. One of the most challenging things for DH has been getting the dough off of the board upon which it rises, and onto the pre-heated baking stone without losing the rise. We've also had numerous "discussions" about how long to bake the loaf and how crunchy the crust should be! It's been a lot of trial and error and he's learned a lot already. The bonus for this hobby is that it's filled the house with wonderful aromas!

And then comes the reward! Along with the tasty bread, we've continued to enjoy the fruits from our garden and canning efforts. One slice here is spread with our rhubarb-strawberry jam and the other with apple butter. There's another birthday gift pictured here too, which is an amazing bread knife. This "wavy bread knife", is made by Victorinox, and it is very sharp, and very accurate in cutting even slices.

Bread baking methods have come a long way, but even the old-fashioned "by-hand" method is well worth the effort. There are so many good reasons to bake your own bread - you know what's in it, and what's NOT in it, you can have a great variety whenever you want it, and at prices as high as $6-$7 a loaf for good Artisan bread, you know you can do better at home!

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