While I've always enjoyed baking bread, the amount of work entailed in making a good loaf relegated bread baking to days when I had lots of free time. My favorite artisan bread baking book is Hamelman's "Bread"; it has incredibly detailed recipes and descriptions of techniques that allowed me to make a few loaves of delicious ciabatta. However, said ciabatta also took me much work across two days, and thus my SO and I found ourselves frequenting our local bakery whenever we wanted bread.
That all changed when a friend introduced me to a new book, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day". I was extremely skeptical at first, as I'm always suspicious of recipes, books, and cooks that promise that home-cooked, old-world taste in two minutes flat ("and $20 off if you order in the next 5 minutes!"1). However, after a few failed attempts, I was able to modify the technique introduced in the book to make a surprisingly good peasant loaf with a minimal amount of work. Here's the basic outline of the technique:
- Mix the ingredients in a large container and allow to rise for three hours at room temperature.
- Put the risen dough in the fridge, and refrigerate at least overnight, though it can hold for up to two or three weeks.
- Take the dough out of the fridge, pull out as much dough as you want to use that day, roughly shape it, and let it rise for about two hours (folding it after the first 20 minutes).
- Bake for ~40 minutes, and let cool until ready to eat.
3 cups water, ~100F
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
32.5 ounces (~6 1/4 cups) unbleached white flour
1/3 cup wheat germ