Maybe its winter making me crave carbs but I am all about bread making these days. There is nothing like the smell & taste of fresh baked bread. The bread that got me started was the No Knead Bread originally published in the New York Time that I read about on Not Martha. This bread is so simple, you mix the dough before you go to bed at night, let it rise all night, we let ours rise 18 hours. The next day you let it rest 15 minutes & then a final rise of 2 hours. It bakes for 45 minutes in a dutch oven, we use a large ceramic one as we worry about the handle on our Le Creuset melting at 450.
You get a wonderful crusty bread that is perfect with soups & stews. We found lots of hints on Not Martha including the idea of using beer for a portion of the liquid which we think really adds to the flavor.
Next I made the Petit Pans au Lait from The Easy Way to Artisan Bread & Pastries. These were lovely soft rolls that would make perfect homemade hot dog buns if I made them a bit smaller.
They were a nice texture for sandwiches but I wanted something a little crustier for paninis.
Next I moved on to Ciabatta rolls also from the same book. I got a little worried about the book at this point as it called for a cup of yeast in this recipe! I did a little research online at other similar recipes & changed it to 1 tablespoon, this worked. This recipe started with a biga which is much easier than a sourdough starter.
I cooked them in batches on my pizza stone & they turned out lovely. I meant to par bake half of them to freeze & use later but forgot. According to the recipe these rolls handle that well.
These made a lovely panini the next day, the crust was beautiful.
Matt then suggested I try the Milk Bread from Joy of Cooking as he had made it before & thought it was great. I made it into large sandwich size rolls. Coated in egg wash with a little sea salt on top they were fabulous warm right out of the oven.
I thought they were a little heavy to have with a soup or stew but were the best bread yet for sandwiches. I like to rewarm them at 400 for 4 minutes before making the sandwich which crisps up the crust a bit. These would also make great hamburger rolls.
Later I'll tell you of my sourdough woes...right now I have Bavarian Pretzels rising as a midday treat for Matt.