Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pain d'Epi + Homemade Goat Cheese

Pain d'epi and homemade goat cheese
I've been officially converted: I'm a bread evangelist. A couple of years ago my sister-in-law gave me a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day as a gift, and almost before I had finished unwrapping it, she was excitedly talking about how amazing it is. I was a little overwhelmed and assumed it was too good to be true — I thought there would be a lot of kneading, letting dough rise, and touchy bread starters. And while I'll admit that you're probably not going to complete any of these projects in a literal five minutes, it really is totally easy to make the dough recipes in this book, and they're so versatile you can turn them into practically anything — loaves of bread, baguettes, pizzas, flatbreads, calzones. You can make a batch and keep it in your fridge for a couple weeks, using some here and there, and it just gets tastier and more sour-doughy. There's something elementally delicious about a fresh, crusty baguette hot out of the oven; turn one out for a casual, last-minute weeknight dinner, and you feel like you need to tell people about this book.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book
I made this recipe for pain d'epi when I wanted to bring something special but easy to make to a friend's party. It looks so pretty and interesting (like a stalk of wheat, hence the name in French) and whenever I see a waiter approaching with it in a restaurant I get really excited to tear off one of the little mini loaves and slather it in butter. Don't put it on a plate, just eat it right off the table, and you can pretend you're eating in France — that's the vibe of pain d'epi — fancy, classic, simple.
Pain d'epi bakingPain d'epi baking

Pain d'epi baking
To go with the bread, I also made goat cheese using this DIY kit we got as a wedding gift. It's a collection of the few basic things you need to make your own cheese — citric acid, cheese salt, cheesecloth and molds, a cooking thermometer — but you could easily assemble these items on your own. I made a plain goat cheese, and two flavored versions, one coated with cracked black pepper, the other with herbes de Provence. You could get creative with herbs and spices which would be a fun way to experiment using the same recipe.

DIY Goat Cheese kit

Homemade goat cheese
Pain d'epi
Pain d'epi and homemade goat cheese

I've made such seriously tasty bread and pizza crusts with these recipes that now I'm a total convert. I'll talk at length about this book and how it's crucial to invest in a bulk amounts of flower and a pizza stone to anyone who seems remotely insterested in homemade bread. This year, my sister-in-law gave a copy to my other brother's girlfriend — as soon as she unwrapped it, we gave each other a look and started talking.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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