First, I must say I don’t like bread. It is just not something I seek out. However, a couple of years ago I started going to a restaurant (Arthur’s in Addison) that served the most delicious homemade bread. I decided I wanted to learn to make bread myself.
I had made dessert bread, rolls and that sort of thing, but I wanted to make plain, wonderful bread.
As a person who truly loves learning, I did a comprehensive review of what was out there. Read recipes online; read reviews of recipes online; took a Craftsy class; read books, etc. I narrowed down the recipes that I like to two. One from a cookbook (The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe François), and one from the Craftsy class (Artisan Bread Making with Peter Reinhart). After a taste test with my office colleagues, I learned that both recipes were liked by others as well. But, I do have a favorite. It was the Craftsy class bread.
I now bake bread every Saturday that I have about 6 hours around the house. I keep a loaf to eat and put the other two loaves in the freezer. It freezes well and only takes about an hour to thaw.
It is not difficult. The key to me is to weigh my ingredients and to use a timer. It takes little work, but lots of waiting. So anyone can do it and be pleased with the results!
My mistakes along the way have included forgetting it while it was rising (can overcome this mistake), forgetting I have it in the oven (can’t overcome this one), not letting it rise long enough (not perfect for the bread snob, but still delicious), and undercooking (just throw it back in the oven).
It only takes four ingredients: water, bread flour, yeast and salt. I decided to forego the fancy tools of the trade, instead I started by using an upside down cookie sheet, disposable pie plate, parchment paper, Pam, a bread knife, KitchenAide stand mixer, scale, and plastic wrap to make the bread. Along the way I have purchased a sugar shaker that I use for dusting flour on the top of the bread, a couche, a round bratform, and a glass spray bottle. I do use all of these, but they are not necessary.
When I show up to a gathering with a steaming hot loaf of bread and butter, I make friends really easy.