Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PinterTested - Artisan Bread


This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of  "PinterTests", where I will actually attempt things from pinterest and report back my findings. Can a real person do these things? How easy was it? Was it any good, or did it just photograph well? Should it be done again? (Also, let's all ooooh and ahhhh over my fun new template above for sharing the original pin and my own test run.....oooooooohhhh! Ahhhhhhh!)

So this week I tested a pin I've seen floating around a lot: Artisan Bread, a no-knead, long rise, traditional style wheat flour bread. It's key is a long overnight rise with very little yeast. I wasn't hopeful, because while I've been baking bread for years and my loaves are usually what one might describe as "edible" and sometimes even "tasty", I'm enough of a bread snob to tell you that the cell structure was horrid, and I was always overkneading, or underkneading, or letting rise too long, or not rising long enough, and even if a beautiful puffy loaf went in the oven, a floppy and deflated loaf came out. I wanted the pretty, lofty, strudy bread, one I could smear with toppings and grill and it would stay together, not one that crumbled upon slicing. This recipe totally came through for me!

The original pin led to this recipe on the Frugal Living NW page, where she describes an adaptation of another recipe. I followed her instructions to a tee, and even did this first batch with all bread flour, though we're whole wheat people in this house, so next week I'll try that. I don't have a cast iron dutch oven, (I know, it's pretty shocking. You can be ashamed of me, go ahead, I won't mind) but being a good New Mexico girl I do have a large pyrex tamale pot, so I used it and got a wonderful result. So easy, no fuss. My dough even stuck to my well-floured (aparently not well enough) towel, and I had to wrestle it to get in the hot pot, so I thought for sure this loaf was a goner after the abuse I put it through. To my surprise, it puffed up beatifully anyway and formed those great cracks that a loaf of this nature has. In the image, the OP is on the bottom left and my loaf, sliced, is on the top right.

Cost Effectiveness: 10/10 - you can't beat the cost of making your own bread, pennies on the dollar

Easy Factor: 8/10 - Yeast breads can and are intimidating, this is as easy as a good one's going to get!

Taste: 7/10 - I think I need to bump up the salt next time, it came out blah-ish, but I'm also used to a hearty whole grain and went with white this time, so maybe that's contributing? Otherwise, outstanding, and the texture's divine.

Time Consuming: 8/10 - Yes and no, you really don't have to spend much time doing anything to the loaf, but you must have the time to wait for the 12-18 hour rise and the 3 hour process for the second rise and bake. If you have other house things to do, or sleep to be had, it's not really time consuming at all, but it's not fast!

Overall Rating: 9/10 - This is a fantastic bread, I may never make another again. (well, except for Challah, can't really beat that stuff!) Way to come through in a big way on this one, Pinterest!

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