Debbie did an excellent post on bread baking last fall, and we've also talked about how baking bread fits in to the rhythm of the seasons, but when spring rolls around I'm much more likely to want to spend time in the garden than in the kitchen.
And yet, curiously enough, my family still requests regular meals.
I find that my cooking style becomes more streamlined and simple in the warmer months, and now I've found a way to still enjoy fresh homemade bread without requiring a huge time investment.
In their book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Jeff Hertzberg (a scientist) and Zoe Francois (a chef) outline a method for mixing and storing dough in the refrigerator, taking out portions as needed, that eliminates the need for kneading, long rise times, or additives. I'll admit that I was initially skeptical, but since getting this book I've made several of the dough variations and have achieved uniformly excellent results. The bread is well shaped, has a great crusty outside with a good texture and crumb inside. The taste is comparable to artisan bread from a bakery, just as the authors claim.
In addition to the basic recipe, which makes a boule loaf or baguette, the book contains a wealth of other breads ranging from Limpa (a Swedish bread made with cardamom, orange zest and honey), to za'atar flat bread, to na'an. Breads from all over the world are well represented in this book. The book also contains recipes using bread, such as Aubergine Tartine, Panzanella, Red Pepper Fougasse, and Fattoush. Many of the bread-containing recipes make use of fresh seasonal produce, which also makes the cookbook handy for the summer months.
I found the authors' section on alternative flours particularly helpful since they note that the different weights and compositions of flours, including how they are ground, influences the outcome of their recipes, and their instructions for substituting flours are clear and easy to implement.
Although there are few things as comfortable as making bread the old fashioned way in the fall and winter, if you're in need of a simpler method for spring and summer I would highly recommend this book.
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