Just the other day I came across a blogger (sorry, don’t recollect who it was) saying that she was a “carbs” person. I really know what that means. My favourite food group is carbohydrates (think rice, wheat, pasta, bread….) and if I stay away from them for too long, I actually get severe “carb cravings”!
So you will understand that one of my favourite things is the aroma of bread baking in the oven and eating bread, warm from the oven, without any other accompaniment but a cup of hot tea! Of course, I am not likely to refuse an offer of bread with a dab of butter (no jam please!), or cheese or peanut butter.
I just realized that I hadn’t made bread in a very long time and it was about time I did something about that. Now the easiest type of bread to make that I know of is No Knead Bread. You just mix everything together, refrigerate it overnight and bake it in the morning.
But what if you want to go beyond this, but would prefer to put in as little effort as possible yet make good bread? You could try Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francis. I did!
There was a time about a year ago, when reviews about this book (referred to as ABin5 from now onwards) were all over the net. I couldn’t get the book here so got my sister to bring it down when she came on vacation early this year. I have made bread successfully, quite a few times from the book yet never got around to mentioning it here.
If you think you can make bread in 5 minutes, then you are fooling yourself. What this book does, however, is to ensure that you can make the dough with minimal effort. Rest the dough at room temperature for about 2 hours and then refrigerate the dough. This means that whenever you want fresh bread, you take the dough out and shape it (the 5 minutes in the title), let it rise and bake it.
You can find more about this on the ABin5 site.
This time I used the Light Whole Wheat Bread from ABin5. I am normally quite organized, but occasionally I have these “disorganized” days. So just as I started out to mix the dough for my bread I discovered I didn’t have enough all purpose flour required by the recipe in the book.
So I increased (and made up the deficit) the amount of whole wheat flour quite a bit. This probably means that this bread no longer qualifies for “Light Whole Wheat”! It, however, turned out to be an excellent bread with a crackly, crusty exterior and was soft on the inside with great texture. It wasn’t dense at all as I was worried it might become.
Here is my adapted version of the recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. Please note that this is also a halved version and this amount of dough makes 2 medium sized loaves. So for this bread, I used half of the dough I made. I also decided to shape the dough to look like a bunch of grapes, just for fun. I remember seeing a picture of bread like this somewhere and had always wanted to try that.
A Bunch Of Light Whole Wheat Grapes! (Bread, Actually)
- 1 1/2 cups water warm
- 3/4 tbsp yeast dry active
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- corn meal for dusting the pizza peel / tray
- Mix the yeast and salt with the warm water in a 3 L food container which has a lid. Mix in the remaining ingredients. You may use a food processor/ stand mixer with dough hooks but I did this by hand.
- I initially mixed everything using a wooden spoon and incorporated the flour in two batches, using wet hands to mix the dough after the adding the second batch of flour.
- Cover the food container with the lid loosely (not airtight) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours, till the dough rises and collapses on itself.
- The dough can be used right away for making bread or be refrigerated (do not close the lid and make the container airtight) and used over the following 14 days.
- When you are ready to bake bread, dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off about half the dough.
- Pinch off small portions needed to shape the bunch of grapes. Dust each portion with more flour and quickly shape into small balls by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
- Remember to have one portion a bit elongated for the stalk at the top of the bunch.
- Place all the pieces on a baking tray (I don't have a pizza peel) to resemble a bunch of grapes, leaving a little space between the pieces. As the dough rises and bakes, the spaces will get filled.
- Let the shaped bread rest, covered by a kitchen towel, for about 30 to 40 minutes. Brush the dough with some milk and bake at 230C for about 35 minutes till brown and firm.
- Cool on a rack before eating.