You may recognize the instructor, Zoe François. She is half of the partnership that promoted the "no-knead" method a few years ago, with their book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which I bought, of course.
I tried it and though it is marvellously easy to get decent French bread in literally five minutes a day, I found the resulting bread lacking in depth--and besides what I really wanted was healthy bread, so I put it aside.
But this new course was on sale at 50% off, so I thought what the heck. The list of recipes was tempting. New bread recipes: how to resist?
Actually, the recipes are nice, but what particularly struck me were some of the techniques. Because the dough is mixed in advance, they have had to devise new ways of incorporating ingredients like cheese or olives, for instance. Also, I never thought of making a "couronne" before (that's French for "crown") and seeing Zoë demonstrating it you realize it's child's play. There are several pizzas, a focaccia, and a couple of sweet breads too.
Revisiting the no-knead method has made me realize that I can probably use it with my current multigrain bread recipe. It's the bread I eat every day and I consume one small loaf per week, so I need to keep a supply on hand at all times, and this means preparing a new batch every couple of weeks or so.
To have a bucket of dough at the ready in the fridge at all times sounds like the best thing since... well, sliced bread. Since I don't have to worry about mixer capacity, I can make a double batch of dough, then take out what I need for a loaf, or a single pita bread, or a bun or two--instead of baking the whole batch and freezing most of it. I will still have to make a batch every fortnight, but it will take five minutes instead of half a day.
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pita Bread
Did I say "pita bread"? Yes, because just before this course (and since my previous post about the subject) I had discovered that you can make pita with any kind of dough! Here are a couple of multigrain ones I made the other day, using my regular multigrain bread dough.
|Multigrain bun-sized pitas|
That was a particularly successful discovery, because I like my hamburger or sandwich buns thin and a bun filled with air instead of dough is perfect for me. You can't see it here, but these are hamburger sized.
Before that, I had made these whole wheat ones, in two sizes.
|Whole wheat pitas in two sizes, baked by the James Beard method.|
I tried Zoë's recipe and it worked very well.
And not only can you use any dough, you can cook them on top of the stove! See?
|Pita bread cooked on top of the stove.|
You need a heavy pan that is not coated with a no-stick finish because of the high, dry heat.
By the way, if you'd rather bake them in the oven--practical if you're making more than one at a time--the absolutely best method is James Beard's, which is found in his Beard on Bread. You start them (on a baking sheet) on the oven's bottom shelf at 500 degrees, for five minutes, for the puffing part, and them move them to the upper shelf for another few minutes, for the browning part. The whole wheat pitas above were baked that way.
Another thing I like about Zoë is that she's not a perfectionist. Her breads don't look perfect. Like mine. She uses a serrated knife for slashing (not a fancy razor-blade instrument). And so on.
That basic French dough is not the best for cinnamon buns and some of the other variations, but that would be my only caveat.
I'm very glad that I invested $20 in this course -- and those were Canadian dollars too!