For bread fans who want fresh ideas

The Baltimore Sun

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

By Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Crust: Bread to Get Your Teeth Into

By Richard Bertinet

Kyle Books / 2007 / $29.95

This book by master French baker and cooking school owner Richard Bertinet is not for beginners.

Smart and sophisticated, with ample color photographs, Crust offers recipes for people who relish adventures in baking. How about Khorasan flour bread or a baguette with a poolish ferment - to name just two of the dozens of breads.

One problem, though, is that Bertinet uses ingredients that are not readily available in a neighborhood supermarket. I was tempted to try Cabernet Grape Flour Bread, but discovered that the key ingredient - the Cabernet Grape Flour, made from "the dried and powdered skins of grapes left over from winemaking" - is produced by a company in Canada and is sold online. In a check of the company's Web site, viniferaforlife.com, the flour appeared to be out of stock. In any case, I didn't have time to order it.

I decided to make Spelt Bread, requiring spelt flour, "an ancient grain of the wheat family" that I had never baked with before. I found the essential ingredient at the Whole Foods Market in Mount Washington.

The Spelt Bread recipe is one of several that start with the aforementioned poolish ferment, which Bertinet describes as a "more liquid style of ferment" made with fresh yeast. Its name derives from the Polish bakers who introduced it to France. Bertinet says it gives a "light texture to the dough, develops a sweetness of flavor and gives color to the crust."

My first try produced a beautiful but rather bland result, so sometime when I have hours to spare I will try it again.

harry.merritt@baltsun.com

Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf)

Makes about 4 pounds dough, enough for 4 loaves

3 cups lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt

6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all-purpose flour, "measured with the scoop-and-sweep method"

Mix the lukewarm water, yeast and salt in a 5-quart bowl or resealable plastic food container. Mix in the flour using a wooden spoon, food processor or mixer with dough hook. Do not knead.

When the mixture is uniformly moist, cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Unless you plan to bake the same day, put the dough in the refrigerator.

Adapted from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day"

Ciabatta

Makes 1 loaf with about 8 slices

1 pound (grapefruit-size portion) boule dough (see recipe)

white flour for the pizza peel

Place boule dough on a lightly floured surface. With wet hands, stretch and shape the dough into a loaf. Do not knead. Let the loaf rise on a floured pizza peel. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that will not interfere with the rising bread.

Slide the loaf off the pizza peel onto the stone. Pour 1 cup hot water into the broiler pan and close the door. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is deeply brown. Allow to cool on a rack before cutting or eating.

Adapted from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day"

Per slice: 83 calories, 3 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 266 milligrams sodium

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