So tonight I made this sauce. Except that instead of velvet buttery goodness after 45 minutes, after an hour and a half the sauce was still chunky and would not reduce. I spooned a cup or so of sauce over a leftover chicken breast and warmed them together in the oven, hoping and hoping that the rest of the sauce would reduce. Um, nope. Are you sensing a theme to this week? Oh well, it was still tasty, and after another hour and a half on the stove, it’s finally getting impossibly rich. Too bad we ate dinner an hour ago.
But that wasn’t what I came here to tell you about today. Today is all about the bread.
One of my resolutions this year was to learn to bake different kinds of bread: 24 loaves, to be precise. While I’ve made pita bread and English muffins since embracing this challenge, this was technically my first loaf of 2011. The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method relies on a slow ferment – like the No Knead Bread recipe that failed me (or I it). I started with the basic recipe, which makes enough for four one pound loaves.
First, mix everything up in a lidded (but not air-tight) vessel large enough to handle the rise:
After two hours in the warm kitchen, the dough more than doubled in size:
At this point, you could scoop out a pound of dough and bake yourself a beautiful loaf – or you could stick the bucket in the fridge to continue to ferment. Here’s where this recipe is different from the No-Knead Bread. The cold rise does something wonderful to the dough: it allows the good bacteria to ferment and the long-chain starches to break down into sugars.
When you’re ready to bake, you scoop out and shape a beautiful boule, then let it rise 40 minutes at room temperature while your oven warms up. 30 minutes in the oven, and you’ve got this:
We ate the whole damned thing before the steam stopped rising. And I can’t wait to bake another loaf, except that I might need to run a few more miles before I do.
Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter from Smitten Kitchen
Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day from the book of the same title, by way of Alexandra’s Kitchen