Curmudgeonly Cooking: Bread 0: Class Prerequisite

Soon I’m going to launch into a multi-part series of essays that expound on recent bread baking successes at Curmudgeon compound. You were warned. There’s a prerequisite for this free lecture series / class / ramble / rant / unexpected shouting. I implore you to buy (or steal) the book I’ve recommended. Trust me…it’s worth it.

Some background: I think bread from the store is overpriced tasteless sawdust unfit for the likes of man nor beast but I don’t cook or bake…I manufacture. None of this makes me a fan of cookbooks. I’ll stock rations and maybe grill a fish when I catch one but cooking anything better than food to keep alive is above my pay grade. Food manufacture is where I’m happiest. Forget crème broule and think steak and eggs (including killing the deer and raising the chickens). Glossy cookbook recipes involve too many pans and dishes. Based on my biases I’ve muddled through several years with a few old bread machines. It worked.

Then my wife (who is probably sick of bread machine loaves) got me a book. Somehow it clicked and I’ve been churning out awesome bread. Go figure.

This is the book you need. Take it into the kitchen and trash it. (BTW: I couldn't smile that brightly if I was sitting on an arc welder...but that doesn't reflect on the recipe.)

I heartily suggest you buy Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Why? Because bread was invented several thousand years ago but this book was the first since Gutenberg to provide instructions that don’t annoy me. Sure there are other cook books (my wife has hundreds of ‘em) but the only two I’ll ever use are as follows: the lame little pamphlet that came OEM with your bread machine and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day for when you are ready to free yourself of the machine. Also, it’s Grandma approved and that’s important.

Specifically I’m using the recipe from page 53 through 58. That’s the “base” recipe. There are chapters and chapters of additional great ideas for people who care. I don’t. I flipped through them and decided that if someone wants to air lift such food to my house I’d love to have it but other than that the “base” does the job.

Am I really suggesting that you buy a 324 page book just to get the information on five pages? Yes. Many times I’ve bought a Chilton Manual to fix my car and only used the section relevant to replacing whatever just fell off. (Ironically I had more luck with mid-70′s rear wheel drive American rustbuckets than my much simpler older tractor. There’s probably something important in that observation…but it doesn’t involve bread.)

For the paranoid people out there; I don’t get a dime from recommending the book. I don’t know the authors and really don’t care if they live in a solid gold house or a shoebox. But you should pry open your wallets and do the deed, get creative and check it out from the library, or whatever you’ve got to do. You can just lie to me and tell me you paid even though you didn’t…how would I know? My point view is that any book that makes me look like a good cook is an investment…like a good chainsaw. More to the point, I’m going to feel guilt if the authors of the book don’t get at least some scratch from people that use it. Buy the damn book. It’s worth it.

Oh yeah…the same authors also wrote Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day. It’s on my shelf (did I mention that my wife likes cookbooks?). I’m sure it’s awesome and filled with really brilliant stuff. Someday I’ll read it. It works great as a coaster too. As for me I’ll pound their “base” recipe into the ground and be thankful for it.

A.C.

P.S. I realize now that they have a whole web site. I’m sure it’s exciting to someone. I slipped into a coma at the thought of it. Maybe the recipe is there somewhere.

P.S. 2. I apologize for the image on the cover. I’m sure they’re nice people and even handsome; but the zillion megawatt smiles freak me out. It’s like a televangelist on speed standing next to a Clark Kent / Labrador hybrid. I’m sure they both mean well and are just ecstatic to meet you. Still freaks me out though. I can’t smile like that. If I ever do you’ll know I’ve gone off the deep end and someone is about to get thrown into my own personal shark moat. This why I prefer repair manuals with something mellow like a drum brake assembly on the cover. Don’t panic.

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About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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6 Responses to Curmudgeonly Cooking: Bread 0: Class Prerequisite

  1. M Wilt says:

    I borrowed the artisan bread book from the library and copied down the basic recipe with a few variants. I love this stuff. I have a container of the peasant mix for boule in the fridge almost constantly. After a few less than perfect loaves, I can crank them out pretty easily. The real key for me was using lots of cornmeal under the dough as it rose so it would slide off onto the stone in the oven. Oh, and remembering to slash the top.

    I get a kick out of how thrilled my kids are to get a heel of this home baked bread as a snack, while they won’t even eat the crust of store bought bread.

    Yes, the basic recipe is on their site. http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2010/02/09/back-to-basics-tips-and-techniques-to-create-a-great-loaf-in-5-minutes-a-day

  2. Judy says:

    To get that smile, rub some Vaseline on your teeth. Then try to close your mouth!

  3. Phil B says:

    Your instinct about the website was right – it is really only for people who need to get out a bit more at night, meet other people and get a life….

    All part of the service. No need to thank me …

  4. MSgt B says:

    My wife smiles at me like that and I sleep in the library…with the door locked.

  5. Woodman says:

    I love this bread. We’ve done some of the variations, but mostly just the base. If you don’t wash out your tub, or let it sit a full two weeks then you can also get a bit more of a sourdough taste out of it.

    I’m a fan of the bagels and the pizza dough too.

  6. Pingback: Bread Background | The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog

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