Lets Talk about Bread
Bread is the cornerstone of a meal. It holds our sandwiches together, cleans our soup bowls and is a primary component in toast. Now let’s talk about making bread. Yes, baking bread at home. I’m here to tell you that with a little investment you too can be a master baker.
First, go buy this book “Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast” by Ken Forkish. I even included a link. See that was easy. No sweat! Next you have to read the book, but don’t worry: if you’re not fascinated by the intricacies of yeast and the proper techniques for folding dough, you can just skip to the recipe.
Don’t worry about buying the fancy rising bucket (it’s pretty cool, but I just use a large bowl).
I do recommend getting the proofing baskets (trust me, they are worth it).
Finally, you will need a small cast iron Dutch oven. (DO NOT pay $200 for this. They go on sale and you can easily pick one up for $100). Stick with me here, I know you may be thinking “this is too much I’m not going to buy an entire kitchens worth of gadgets and appliances just to make bread. I’ll just go buy it at the store its cheaper and less hassle.” Counter point: A Dutch oven will give you a professional quality loaf every time and is significantly cheaper than a steam injection oven.
Let’s do the math.
The total cost for the equipment is about $200-250. Yes, that’s a lot, but it’s a one-time expense. An artisanal loaf will cost $5-10 depending where you get it. Each recipe makes 2 loaves, so conservatively, not including the cost of the ingredients, you make this recipe 10-20 times and it will pay for all of the equipment. Alternative: look at it in terms of toast. An average Brooklyn Avocado Toast costs about $15 plus tip. (Sure, avocados are expensive, but that is for one slice of bread!) I’m just saying your return on this investment will pan out.
Besides, who wants to go to the grocery store? It’s stressful. Baking bread at home is a calming and therapeutic experience. Most of the time that’s needed to make bread is passive, spent waiting for the yeast to do their magic and bring life into the bread. It’s something to be behold, but if thats not your thing, you don’t have to be around for that. You’re a busy person after all, with things to do, don’t micromanage your bread.
Once the bread has risen it’s ready for the oven. About 35 minutes per loaf is all that’s required for your little dough monsters to turn into mature delicious artisan loafs. Don’t worry if they are a little “informal” as Marry Berry would say, they will taste just as good.
The best part is that doing this once a week you can have fresh bread every morning. (Pro tip: slice the bread once it has cooled and put it in the freezer. Whenever you want a slice, just pop it in the toaster and whola fresh bread. Its great!
“But Travis what else am I going to do with a Dutch oven in my apartment? I don’t have room for this”
I’m glad you asked, in the next few weeks I’ll circle back with more recipes, tips and tricks for your nifty new Dutch oven and other tried and true recipes and techniques.