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Are there good bread styles or techniques for baking bread in the evening after a day at work?

Specifically, there's a couple of us who have taken to bringing food for a meeting every couple of weeks, and I tend to do the breads while someone else makes soup or a casserole.

I know I can whip up a quick bread, like Irish Soda, cornbread or most muffins fairly quickly, but they're not as conducive to eating at a meeting (they crumble, and then I have to spend more time cleaning up after the meeting), or I could make something like naan or tortillas, but it's quite time consuming towards the end if you have roll out and grill up enough for 18+ people.

I guess I'm hoping for something where it's either slow-rising enough where I can prep it the night before or morning of, then return to it 8 to 20hrs later, punch down and shape, then have a short rise before baking. (right now, I do a refrigerated rise of the dough, which requires giving it more time to come back up to room temp so I can shape it and let it proof in the pan before baking).

Another option would be to know the techniques to make something like the par-cooked breads that you used to be able to find in the stores. (if it can be done at home, and doesn't require blast chillers or other specialized equipment)

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Seems like the breads of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and the no-knead technique might be the right place to look if you are willing to start a day in advance. –  justkt Apr 20 '11 at 17:55
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yep -- came here to say that very same thing. the AB5 book changed my bread-bakin' life, lol. you can make enough dough for 4 loaves at a time. you just lop off a hunk when you need it, shape it, let it rise for about 20 mins, and bake. you can keep the dough in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, i think. it's awesome. –  franko Apr 20 '11 at 19:06
    
@franko, @justkt : okay, I've ordered the book, but could one of you two summarize the technique in an answer, so I can upvote it? –  Joe Apr 20 '11 at 21:00
    
sure - you mix together the flour, salt, yeast and water in a large container, and let it sit for a couple hours on your counter until it's risen to about double its original size. then, you can either use some dough right away, or (since it's easier to handle when its cold), put it in your fridge for at a day. then, on baking day, you cut off a grapefruit sized hunk, dust it with flour, quickly shape it, and let it sit while the oven preheats. then, you slash the top & bake! easy as pie. or, uh, bread. –  franko Apr 20 '11 at 21:43
    
How about malt loaf? Has a very long rising time. –  Orbling Apr 26 '11 at 5:54

3 Answers 3

One thing you can make which is very fast is unleavened flatbread. For example, chapati and roti are two Indian flatbreads made without yeast. If you try one of these though, I'd recommend getting a special flour to get the authentic flavor. They come out kind of bitter with regular whole wheat flour. Chapati or Atta flour can be found at Indian grocers, or order online. King Arthur Flour makes a version which I haven't tried, but generally their products are very good - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/chakki-atta-indian-flour-3-lb

Chapati and roti are pretty similar to wheat tortillas, although tortillas are usually a bit thinner. These can also be considered a flatbread and can be made quickly.

If you want to try no-knead bread you don't need a book. Mark Bittman of the NY Times has posted some no-knead recipes online (from Jim Lahey of Sullivan St Bakery in NY, who now has his own book of no-knead recipes).

Overnight rise recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html Newer "quick" version, 4-5 hour rise: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/dining/08mini.html

You can also make pita bread with an hour and a half rise.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

As I couldn't get Orbling to actually put the technique in an answer, and it's been ~2 years since I asked this, here's an update:

Yes, the no-knead bread recipes work great. I even did some (leavened) flatbreads with it, and the Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day brioche recipe, but it just lacked ... something. I think it was the texture was just a little off for rolls. (Although it's become my go-to recipe for pizzas and flatbreads).

The best technique with the best result I've found so far to get up early and use a slightly modified recipe food-processer brioche recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. To make it easier to work, I actually use 1cup more flour than it calls for. (which doesn't fit in my food processor, so I have to transfer it to my stand mixer ... but I also double the recipe).

I then let it sit to rise while getting ready in the morning, then just before leaving, form it into balls for rolls, and put 'em on a sheet tray. (a double batch fills a 1/2 sheet perfectly). I then cover it loosely and stash it in the fridge. When I get home, I immediately start the oven preheating and pull the tray out of the fridge. I give it 30 min, then toss it in the oven, and it's done 30-40 min later. I've done it a good 1/2 dozen times, but haven't yet decided if I like it better with or without the eggwash. (it's less effort in the evening without, so it gets dropped when I'm in a rush prepping for our meeting).

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The no-knead recipes in Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day are also solid. You can leave the dough anywhere from overnight to four days or so, and when you want to bake, just shape and rise an hour while the oven heats. –  Jefromi Jan 31 at 20:27

Yes! Here are two methods:

An excellent technique is to allow the bread to do its initial rise, its proofing, or both in the refrigerator. You could allow the initial rise to take place overnight; rest and shape it on the countertop in the morning, proof it in the fridge during the day, allow it to sit on the countertop while you preheat the oven, and then bake it in time for dinner.

However, if you really need bread to adhere to a timetable, I suggest you bake it in advance, at your leisure. Once it is utterly and completely at stone cold room temperature, wrap it tightly and heavily in plastic, then in foil. Freeze it for anywhere from a day to a few weeks. When you want to serve it, let it come to room temperature without unwrapping it. Then unwrap it, re-wrap it in foil only, and bake it in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. It will be indistinguishable from a fresh loaf.

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