Once in awhile, amidst the meandering wanderings my many interests take me on the internet, I stumble on something really, really awesome, something so useful, easy and delightful, it's almost too good to be true. Thus it happened on a day when I was reading an article about how to make wigwams (more on that later) on the Mother Earth News web archives, I looked to the sidebar and noticed the link entitled, "Five Minutes a Day for Fresh Baked Bread."
The article shows how to mix up a big-ass recipe of dough, store it in the fridge and, voila, fresh bread items on demand.
I've made a few minor adjustments to both the basic recipe and the method. So here's my version, though I would recommend reading the article first to familiarize yourself with the process. There are some great tips to make your oven work like one at a bakery.
6 cups warm water (just above body temp is good)
6 cups all-purpose organic flour
7 cups whole wheat flour
2 T. sea salt
3 T. instant yeast for first recipe, then decrease to 2 or less for subsequent recipes.
Mix all ingredients just until flour is incorporated. Let rise till double. Store in the refrigerator, and whenever you need dough for something, sprinkle the top with flour, flour your hands, and remove enough for your project. Work in a small amount of flour as needed, but do not knead. Just shape and set on a well floured surface to rest for about 40 min. Bake in preheated 450F degree oven on preheated stone, sprinkled with flour, oats, wheat germ, corn meal, or whatever you wish to keep the dough from sticking. In the rack below, place a broiler pan or cookie sheet. When the oven is hot, slide your bread onto the stone and pour 1 cup of water in the pan below to create steam. This will make a wonderful crust.
The dough can be used for artisan bread, such as the French boule pictured, buns, bread sticks, cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, dinner rolls, stromboli, etc. When there is only enough dough left for about one loaf of bread, mix up your next batch, mixing in the remaining dough to act as a starter, including scraping the dough off the sides of your container. The more you do this, the less yeast you will need, and the more flavorful your bread will become. It will soon take on sourdough properties. One batch will keep two weeks in the refrigerator (although it gets used up long before that in our house).
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