Sunday, January 8, 2012

Man Cannot Live by Bread Alone, But I'm Willing to Try

I love bread.  Not stuff like Wonder Bread or Silvercup (my mother's favorite and the sponsor of 'The Lone Ranger', I also heard it was good for using as 'fish bait').  I mean real hand-made artisan bread.  With a good crust and a chewy inside.

Several years ago I took a one-week artisan bread baking class at Schoolcraft College.  From 9-4 every day we baked bread, including wonderful buttery croissants, bagels, donuts, and danish pastries along with baguettes, multi-grains, ciabatta, French boules... Well, you get the idea.

I had more bread than I could ever use or even have room to freeze.  One day I stopped at one of our Fire Stations on the way home and left them loaves of Pullman sandwich bread.  I gave bread to the neighbors.  I even thought about leaving a stand at the end of the drive, but was afraid the animals would run off with it.

I have my manual from class and several books on baking bread.  I own three of Peter Reinhart's bread books.  I love just reading them.

So, I was a bit skeptical when I read a recipe a few years ago for a no-knead bread.  If you didn't knead the bread, how would you develop the gluten?  Nevertheless, I put the recipe in my files and there it sat.

Now, every year I say I am going to clean out my recipe files and either make the recipe or toss it.  Not likely to actually happen, but I have good intentions and I do start the project.  So, with 'bread' and 'breakfast' at the front of the filing cabinet, I pulled out the recipe for no-knead bread.  (The one I have was published in the Williams-Sonoma catalog, but it is the same recipe from the same source.)

I was still skeptical, but I thought, what the heck.  I grow fresh rosemary in the house and I had a bag of lemons.  Since I was not going to be required to put much effort into this, all it would cost was some energy for the stove and three cups of flour.  So, on Friday night, around six, I decided to bake bread.

Now, I had not planned to blog about this, so my picture shows a loaf that has already been eaten.  But then, how could I resist?  It is a very good loaf of bread and was wonderful with the beef bourguignon I had for dinner last night.  (This is by far the best recipe I have ever tried for beef burgundy.  Just be sure to use a good bottle of red wine.)

It was equally good this morning with an herbed butter.  I plan to have it tonight with leftover beef.  And I may just have to look for other no-knead recipes.  And book a few more exercise classes.

As Julia Child would say, 'Bon Appetit'.

Rosemary, brought in at the end of summer from the garden.

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