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Best laid plans...
blaisepascal
I have a problem with baking bread. I like fresh-made bread, and I've made risen breads from scratch a few times. But my problem is time.

Take this basic recipe, for example. It's a basic simple French bread, with just flour, yeast, salt, and water. Nothing fancy. But look at the preparation time:

10min knead
60min rise
60min 2nd rise
90min proof
45min bake

None of the work is hard (although I do find kneading for 10 minutes to be a bit exhausting). In fact, most of it is waiting. But from start to finish (not counting the actual working time of mixing, punching down, and shaping) it's over 4 hours.

Or take this recipe for a Ciabatta, which doesn't require kneading as such:

60min preferment
20min rest and fold
20min rest and fold
20min rest and fold
30min rest
10min flour, quarter, and rest the dough
20min shape and rest
??min bake

Not counting baking time, or the time actually needed to mix, fold, flour and quarter, and shape, it's 3+ hours. And there's more fiddlybits.

In both these cases, it's fair to round the time to 6hours, counting prep, work, waiting, baking, and perhaps some cooling.

Now I work from 9-18, with a half-hour commute, so I'm out of the house by 0830, and home no earlier than 1830. I get up around 0630, and am in no mood to do anything resembling food at that time. Even so, that's 2 hours in the morning I'd have available. If I were to start making a bread as soon as I get home, it would come out of the oven around midnight -- which is too late to eat anything.

My weekends are also typically busy, without a 6hour block of time to devote to baking. So.... I don't bake, but I want to. I just don't have time.

But today I don't have much planned. Run some errands, and go to Bound for Glory at 1800. Time enough, but just barely. So I cleaned the counter thoroughly for kneading, got out the flour, the measuring accouterments, and went to get the yeast -- the yeast we threw out some months ago when it looked like it had gotten wet...

Ah well, maybe next weekend.

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How about getting a bread machine? You can program it, and then when you get home you'll have fresh-baked bread.

We have a bread machine, but (a) it's a bitch to clean, (b) the bread from bread machines is all one shape (in this case, sort of a tall cube, with a hole in the bottom), and (c) we've long ago lost the recipe book.

Except for c), pretty much all bread machines are likely to have the same problems. Besides, part of the bit about home-making artisinal breads is the act of making it. That's gone with a bread machine.

What are your feeling on the "No Kneed" bread?

I tried the NYTimes recipe once. It might be worth trying again. "No Kneed" isn't my problem, it's "No Time". The NY Times recipe, even though it uses a 20-hour ferment which helps, still requires a 2-hour proofing before putting it in the oven. If I were to try to make it for tomorrow night's dinner, it would be going into the oven just in time for you to leave.


http://www.motherearthnews.com/print-article.aspx?id=142688

I know someone doing this, and she loves it. I haven't tried it myself although I've been meaning to. Apparently there's a book, too.

I generally get home by 5:00 and can go from ingredients to a loaf of something nice by the time I go to bed around 10:30. Here's some of the recipes I use: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=uilos&keyword=bread+recipes&filter=all

(i come from a long line of good bakers on both sides of the family, and i learned how to make bread when i was so small i had to kneel on a kitchen chair in order to be able to reach the countertop.)

yeast dough can rise in the refrigerator - it just rises a lot more slowly. (this is actually a good thing, because the longer the yeast gets to work, the better the bread tastes.) start a batch of dough in the evening, and put the bowl in the fridge. next day, take the dough out as soon as you get home - it should be doubled by then. punch down and shape, then let rise again, which shouldn't take much more than an hour. put it in the oven and make the rest of dinner while it's baking. enjoy hot, fresh-baked bread with your dinner.

if you find hand-kneading the dough onerous, you can either use the bread machine just for the kneading, or use an electric mixer with a "dough hook", if you have a powerful enough mixer. (eat your heart out - i have a 5-quart KitchenAid.) shaping the dough doesn't take all that long if you're just making a loaf; the absolute simplest is a rounded "cottage loaf", but it just takes a little more tucking to make an oblong that you can bake in a standard loaf pan.

here is a recipe for a fairly simple bread that can be left unattended for various periods of time, and can be made several different ways. there are a lot of other good recipes on that site, too.



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