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The Pleasures of Baking Bread

Loaf of BreadOne of the most enjoyable things that you can do is bake a loaf of bread. It’s basic and nourishing and provides a little bit of magic in your day. I hadn’t really made a loaf of bread outside of a bread machine and over the past year I’ve been thinking a lot more consciously about what I’m eating and trying to make more food at home. After listening to the audiobook version of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, I didn’t really want to eat the heavily-processed bread that I’ve been eating for a long time and I found the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and purchased a baking stone and pizza peel, mixed up a batch of dough and made my first boule. It was easy and delicious and since I started a few weeks ago there has always been fresh bread in the house. People used to live like this and it’s sad that so many of us have opted for prepared and processed foods over things that can be made simply at home.
Overall it’s great to think more consciously about food and cooking and there is a lot of great local food around which means that now through the food in the house we’re a lot more connected to what has grown around here. My favourite dough is the Light Whole Wheat and my favourite loaf is the Batard. The dough is also amazing as a base for pizza or garlic cheese fingers.
The brilliance of the method outlined in the book is that you mix up the dough in a plastic container (without kneading), let it rise for a couple of hours and then put it in the fridge. Then you take out the dough, cut off a 1 pound ball (which you can do 4 times), shape it, let it rise and then put it in the oven, so you’re never really more than 2 hours away from a loaf of hot, fresh bread from the oven. It is simple and beautiful. Now I look forward to the feeling of dough stuck to my fingers. My more complicated short-term goal is to make Montreal Bagels based on the recipe in the book. Once I do that I will feel like a real cook.

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