Yesterday was B.U.S.Y! Aside from the normal frenetic pace of life that goes hand in glove with having five sons ages 10 and under we had other pressing matters. I am milking goats for friends up the road while they visit family, planning for a wedding rehearsal dinner I’m catering in August, helping put up firewood for the winter, and picking up more household chores and yard work while my husband tries to put batten up every night after work. To top it all off I discovered yesterday morning that our garden had produced-seemingly overnight- mammoth pickling cucumbers. (My tried and tested pickle recipe will be in my next post.) Because fresher cucumbers equal crunchier pickles I knew I was going to be pickling last night after making dinner, but before milking goats. Phew!
Dinner was going to have to be fast and easy.
I recently procured a copy of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Franςois. Before reading the book I had regarded it with more than just a touch of suspicion. I am a long time sourdough, poolish, and pâte fermenté baker and I didn’t think anything could come close to the time-honored methods.
The premise of the book is that you mix up master bread doughs and store them in your fridge, taking a portion from the dough mass each day to bake. I was interested, but still skeptical. I mixed up one of the basic boule dough from the book. Jeff Hertzberg, in the book, says:
“Amaze your friends with the “6-3-3-13″ rule: If you want to store enough for eight one-pound loaves, here’s a simple mnemonic for the recipe: 6,3,3, and 13. It’s 6 cups water, 3 tablespoons salt, 3 tablespoons yeast, and then add 13 cups of flour. Store in a 10-quart lidded container. That’s it. It will amaze your friends when you do this in their homes without a recipe- but tell them to buy this book anyway!”
The day after mixing this up, I made naan from it. It was outrageously delicious and tasted *gasp* authentic. Yesterday was the perfect time to put the “6, 3, 3, 13 dough” through some more paces.*And I interrupt myself to say just how wonderful it was to have that dough in the fridge for just such a crazy day.
I busted out *cough, cough* 2 pounds of bacon. Don’t judge. I’m feeding a lot of people. After slicing it into lardons, I par cooked it 3/4 of the way to where I like bacon; just shy of charcoal- super crispy, please! Next came an indecent quantity of thinly sliced onions sauteed in bacon fat with a small amount of white wine and a large amount of cracked black pepper.
I cooked the onions in bacon fat and some bacon was left in it. I loved life at that moment.
Next on deck: Dracula-repelling piles of minced garlic, a hint of gorgonzola, a large amount of garlic and herbed chevre, some minced fresh rosemary and parsley and healthy drizzles olive oil, all strewn over some of the “6, 3, 3, 13 dough” that had been stretched to cover a half sheet pan.
It baked in the oven for 35 minutes. That gave me ample time to load my jars for the pickles I was making and snap this picture. Aren’t kids great?
How did it turn out? Ohmyohmyohmy. It was so good. The crust had just the right amount of crispiness on the bottom and chewiness in the center. It had a wonderful wheaty smell while baking and browned to a luscious shade on the few spots I left clear on my crazy topping binge. I mean, really, look at this!
So, I’m left with two things to review… The book and the recipe (see end of post for recipe.)
The book gets 2 thumbs up out of 2 for usefulness. The recipes in it are easy and the science is good. I expect to get a great deal of use out of this book. I’d recommend it for anyone who loves good, bakery style loaves. I have a feeling this would also be a great book for folks who are intimidated by baking. It is laid out clearly, it is encouraging, and it is simple.
I highly recommend purchasing or borrowing this book from the library because the technique is somewhat unusual. It’s not difficult at all. It’s just a departure from normal bread techniques and you need to consult the book to really get the desired result.
It also gets 14 thumbs up out of 14 for the recipes we’ve tried. The master dough is versatile, delicious and simple to put together and store. By my math that’s better than a hat trick.
No question. This got 14 thumbs up out of a possible 14. It was outstanding and will be repeated orphan frequently. (That is your free Gilbert and Sullivan joke for the day.) The aroma of this baking was enough to make me want to chew my own leg off. So exercise caution…
Bread: Fully Loaded!
(Again, in this recipe I’m halving what I make for us, so you’ll note that while I used 2 pounds of bacon I’m giving you a recipe that calls for 1 pound. I made two half sheet pans of this bread last night. If ya’ll can eat 2 pans worth of this, by all means, double my quantities given below!)
- 1 1/2 lbs master bread dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons semolina flour or cornmeal, for sprinkling over pan
- 1 lb bacon, sliced into lardons
- 4 medium yellow cooking onions
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
- 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 4-5 ounces crumbled herbed garlic chevre (for recipe, click here)
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely minced
- 1 handful fresh parsley, minced
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the bottom of a rimmed half sheet pan or large rimmed cookie sheet. Sprinkle the semolina or cornmeal evenly over the oil and pan. Set aside.
In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, cook bacon lardons over medium heat until bacon is cooked to about 3/4 of the state you usually cook it. Line a bowl of plate with a double thickness of paper towels. Remove the pan from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to the paper towels. Carefully pour the bacon grease into a bowl to cool. (And use for home fries later. Yeah! Home fries in bacon fat rule!) Do not wipe out the pan under any circumstances. You’ll use the fat that remains to help cook your onions.
Add the onions to the bacony good pan and return the pan to the burner. Pour the white wine in the pan and use a spoon to scrape up the browned bits that are stuck to the pan: That’s the best part! Add the cracked pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt and lower the heat to medium low. The goal is to soften these onions, not to brown them. If you brown them they’ll blacken in the oven. Let them cook gently while you turn your attention to the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, use your hands and a rolling pin to work the dough out to approximately the size of your pan. Gently move the dough to the prepared pan. If the dough shrinks or changes shape in transit, stretch the dough into the corners and against the sides. Set aside and preheat oven to 425°F.
By the time your dough is done, your onions should be softened to the point where they’ll flop when you pick one up, but it’ll still have a little toothsomeness in the center when you bite into one. That’s the way you want them so kill the heat.
Scatter the following ingredients evenly over the dough in this order: bacon, gorgonzola, onions, chevre, and rosemary. Drizzle the whole thing with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pop the pan into your preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until it reaches the degree of golden brown deliciousness you want.
Remove the bread from the oven, sprinkle with the minced parsley and let sit for 5 minutes prior to slicing. This was amazingly good with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Oh yes!
This is a slice of heavenly Bread: Fully Loaded! Look at the irregular holes in the crumb. That is the mark of success.