I managed to get my little hands on the last copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day at the Borders yesterday. Yipee! Today, I set out to get some "necessary" supplies. Baking stone, success. The book also said I needed a pizza peel, but I decided that my wooden cutting board could do the trick just fine (it did). I also happened to walk away from my favorite housewares store, Down to Earth, with a cookie cutter set and a lot of chocolate. Oops!
Meet my mixer, Little Blue:
When I got home and started prepping to make the bread, I realized that I only had King Arthur All-Purpose flour (a new full bag, of course). That's the one brand the book recommends against using because of its abnormally high protein content. I may have winged (wung?) it ordinarily, but since this is my first time using this method (and I'm intent on teaching myself properly. Such a nerd.), I wanted to follow the directions as closely as possible. So I went out and got a 10-lb. bag of good ol' Gold Medal flour, which did the trick just fine. After spending the whole morning doing bread-related errands, I finally got to work!
Before rising (purple plastic wrap is a MUST in any professional kitchen):
After rising (ahh the wonder of yeast):
I ran into another snafu when I finished making the dough and needed to put it into a 5-qt container to rise and store. The biggest vessel I have is a 4-qt bowl. Oops! It wound up working out fine, but I need to invest in a real container since I use that bowl a lot and can't have it taking up valuable refrigerator real estate.
Overall, making this bread was SO. easy. And pretty fun, too! Now I have a big fat bowl of dough in the fridge waiting to be used over the next 2 weeks (that's where the 5 minutes comes in, there's the small initial time investment for each big batch of dough, then you just break off a chunk and throw it in the oven whenever you want some bread).
Honestly, I'm not quite sure what about this bread makes it "artisan" (did I skip that part in the book?). I still feel like quite an amateur. But hey, it tasted awesome and it made everyone here very happy. That's all that matters, right?