Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Challenge - Day 2 Part 1

It's early day 2 and I've been cooking all night. That's right, after breaking down the chicken yesterday I saved the leftover peels and tops from the carrots along with the ends and skin of an onion, a teaspoon of black peppercorns and 3 smashed cloves of garlic for stock. After roasting the neck, wing tips and carcass of the bird until brown, I tossed that with the rendered fat from roasting along with the rest in 2 litres of water and simmered overnight. I did add about .5 litre in the middle of the night but this morning the house has the wonderful aromas of fresh chicken stock wafting as I work for a couple of hours before waking the boy.

A comment came up yesterday from my Mum regarding most people who are on assistance will more than likely not bake their own bread. I concur but I still want to encourage everyone to try as the method for keeping fresh bread is simple and the results are without equal. I use the same method as outlined in the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes" and keep a loose dough in the fridge for a week or so. Although I like baking bread and all the ablutions thereof, I understand not everyone has the time (nor do we to do this consistently to be frank) to bake all the time. However it really is only about 5 minutes of active time (not considering resting, baking and cooling) for each step. Here's the recipe I used this week, white flour only unfortunately as whole wheat didn't fit into a week's budget...
  • 3 Cups Water, very warm
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Yeast
  • 6.5 Cups Unbleached white flour
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Kosher salt
Mix the 4 ingredients, cover lightly until completely risen (dough will fall flat on top) - 5 minutes
Refrigerate for minimum 3 hours
Pull the desired dough from the batch and shape - 5 minutes or less
Rest on a pizza peel or inverted cookie sheets dusted liberally with flour
Preheat oven with pizza stone or inverted cookie sheet to 450F
Slide the dough onto the stone or cookie sheet, toss 1 C water onto floor of the oven
Bake for 30 minutes while doing something else

I set the timer for baking for 10 minutes and then toss in another 1 C water on the floor of the oven. This helps develop an even crustier loaf and we like it that way
Let the loaf cool after baking. This allows the crumb or interior of the bread to develop as it should. Even if you can't wait until completely cool, let it go as long as you can.
The big batch of dough will keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks but better results come within the first 5 to 7 days.

I do the same recipe but use 3.5 C high protein whole wheat flour and 3 C bread flour for our normal loaf. My 10 year old tells me he likes all the bread I make and he'll eat any of them. Do give this a try if you have even a few minutes.

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