Look what I found when I went outside to collect our mail today:
A true harbinger of spring, daffodil sprouts! My first view of the spring to come. YEA!!
I've been testing quite a few bread recipes lately. I have searched long and hard for an easy, delicious AND healthy way to bake bread. I LOVE bread. Especially the pricy, artisan loaves so popular at expensive bakeries.
I believe I have found it thanks to "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois (also the authors of "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day")
This recipe is not only fast, it's easy and it really does take just a few minutes a day after the initial mixing. Here's the best part: NO KNEADING. Yup, you read it here first. AND one recipe makes four 1 pound loaves, or 8 mini loaves or 4 mini loaves and a bunch of rolls or 2 big loaves, a mini loaf and sticky buns.
All you have to do is mix the dough up, put it in the refrigerator and over the next 14 days pull off the amount of dough you want to make. Fresh bread, hot from the oven, anytime you want it. Does it get any better than that?
Ready. Set. Dough.
Whole Grain Artisan Free-Form Bread
5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
4 cups lukewarm (about 100 - 110 degrees F) water
Cornmeal or parchment paper for board or pizza wheel
Measure out all your dry ingredients into a big bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with a dough hook)
Add the warm water all at once and mix using a spoon or your stand mixer. This should happen fairly quickly. Just mix until there are no dry spots.
The dough will be very sticky. Transfer to a VERY big bowl - or two large mixing bowls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave it alone. DO NOT KNEAD THE DOUGH.
Let it rise for about 2 hours or until it rises and then begins to collapse. Letting it rise longer than 2 hours won't hurt it.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours, loosely covered or overnight. Dough that has been refrigerated is easier to handle.
Dust a board with cornmeal and set aside.
Dust your hands with flour and dust the top of the dough with flour. Now pull off a grapefruit sized piece (you will need to cut it off with a serrated knife). Orange size if you want mini-loaves like I have pictured. Very quickly, in a matter of 30-40 seconds shape the dough into a round or oblong. Most of the dusting flour will fall off - that's good, it's not meant to be incorporated into the loaf.
Place on your cornmeal dusted board.
Loosely cover the loaf with plastic wrap and allow the loaf to rest 90 minutes. (40 minutes if you didn't refrigerate the dough)
If you don't have a board, just grease a cookie sheet and put the dough on that to rest.
Thirty (30) minutes before baking preheat the oven to 450 F. If you have a baking stone, put it on the center rack. Put a heavy broiler pan on the rack below.
Just before you slip the bread into the oven paint it with water. If you want, sprinkle it with raw sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or a combination. Using a serrated knife, slash the loaves on the diagonal.
Slide the loaf (or loaves) onto your baking stone, into the oven. If you are using a cookie sheet, place in oven. Quickly, pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan and close the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes (large loaf) or 20 minutes (mini). When done the bread sounds hollow if you rap on it with your knuckle. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
Store the rest of the dough in a bowl in your fridge, covered with saran wrap, for up to 14 days. The dough will continue to develop flavor as it rests in your fridge.
Out of this one recipe I made the 3 mini loaves pictured, 6 rolls and this recipe for Honey Caramel Sticky Buns:
Honey Caramel Sticky Buns: (makes 8 to 12 buns)
Bread Recipe Above - a cantaloupe size piece of dough
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I used pecans, but walnuts, macadamias or your favorite are fine)
1 cup raisins
Cream together the honey, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and orange zest.
Spread half this mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan.
Roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick rectangle (about 10 x 8). Use enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking.
Spread the rest of the cream mixture on the dough and sprinkle with the nuts and raisins.
Roll it up jelly roll style.
Using a very sharp knife, dental floss or kitchen snips, cut into 8 to 12 rounds.
Place in the bottom of the cake pan on top of the creamed caramel, cut sides up.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. F. Bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Invert a plate on top of the pan and quickly turn, releasing the buns.
Top with powdered sugar glaze if desired. (1/2 cup powdered sugar, teaspoon milk, drizzle over while hot).
A Cook's Notes: You can make this bread and sticky bun recipe using all white flour if you want. Decrease the water to 3 cups, omit the vital wheat glutin and use 6 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour. Follow all the other instructions as written above.