My attempts at baking bread at 6000 feet have produced mixed results. All along, my goal has been to create a healthy, hearty sandwich bread that toasts well and doesn’t have the consistency of lead. While I’m not there yet, I think I’ve found a new path to pursue with this book: Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day.
Their premise is simple: wet dough keeps well in the refrigerator and, if you make a large batch, you can have it handy for baking fresh loaves every other day or so. I started yesterday with their basic recipe for a French boule. I only made a half-batch, enough for two small loaves, because of my deeply ingrained fear of failure. (No use in wasting even MORE flour.) Though I followed their directions perfectly, I was disappointed by how little rise I saw in the dough after three hours. But, trusting that my husband will eat anything I make for him, I kept going.
The baking process is a tiny bit more complicated than for regular loaf bread: it requires a pizza stone (finally giving this under-used wedding gift a job!) and a broiler rack with water (? I don’t know what this is, but I filled a cookie sheet with hot water and that seemed to work.) The book gives clear step-by-step instructions–including frequent reminders NOT TO WORRY, which I appreciate–and I was pleasantly surprised by how much it rose in the oven. The steam from the broiler rack (or cookie tray) creates a great crisp crust, too.
The book includes recipes for sandwich breads and whole wheat breads, which I plan to try next. Colorado friends, check out these high altitude baking tips before you start–I wish I had! (By the way, the Colorado Springs public library has multiple copies of the book) Overall, the process is SIGNIFICANTLY easier than other yeast breads I’ve tried. Plus, the satisfaction of smelling your own bread baking is, of course, priceless.