The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Average Joe Artisan Bread Kit

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Floydm's picture
Floydm

Average Joe Artisan Bread Kit

I frequently receive offers to review products. I turn most of them down because they typically don't seem like a good fit for TFLers, but an exception was the Average Joe Artisan Bread Kit, which I baked with today.  

If you are looking for a way to turn friends or families on to baking and don't have time to give them a personalized tutorial, the Average Joe Artisan Bread Kit is a good way to go.

The Average Joe Artisan Bread Kit is the brainchild of Joe Bellavance and is based on the no-knead bread approach.  Different editions are available on the website, some fancier and more "gifty," others plainer and more practical.  At its core the kit contains everything you need except the water to bake your first three no-knead loaves.

Bread flour, yeast, "bread dust", sea salt, a dough scraper, a lame, and a baking booklet.  Also available, an enamel pot to bake it in.

The spiral-bound book included with the kit is really nice, and I really enjoyed the tone and approach he uses which you can get a feel for from his blog. Glossy and color printed, it includes a FAQ and a number of variations on the basic no-knead loaf.  There is also a laminated cheat sheet with the "golden standard" on it, the core no-knead recipe that everything else here is based on.

My first pass I tried to "play dumb" -- something that comes naturally to me ;^) -- and rely as much as possible on the instructions rather than my intuition.  I prepared the dough as directed in the afternoon, covered it, and waited to bake it until the next day. 

My dough the next morning:

As directed, in the afternoon I shaped the loaf into a ball, let it rise for another 45 minutes or so, and then baked it in the pot. My final loaf:

As you can see, this isn't the best loaf I've ever made, but if I were a new baker and ended up with this my first pass I'd be ecstatic.  It was extremely simple to make and did not require any gear or knowledge outside of what was included in the kit.

Later in the day I baked a second loaf in the pot.  This one was a sourdough, and this time I relied more on my intuition as far as determining when and how long to bake it.  It turned out lovely.

Joe says up-front that there is no "secret sauce" in the Average Joe Artisan Bread Kit that you can't get elsewhere and, yes, one of us could put together a kit like this on our own, but Joe Bellavance has done a great job of putting everything together here.  Even in the Cook's Edition the kit feels very professional and complete to me -- a breadboard and a nice bread knife are about the only other things I can imagine telling someone they should get when getting started baking, but they aren't essential to baking one's first loaves.  I'm sure the gift editions are even nicer in their presentation.  So if you are looking to introduce someone to baking this holiday, the Average Joe Artisan Bread Kit is a great way to do it.

The Average Joe Artisan Bread Kit is available on breadkit.com.

studiowi33's picture
studiowi33

I think this is great way to share our passion, well, one of them, with ppl that may not be aware of the BreadBaking cult that we are. I've already favorited it.

Thanks to Floyd & Joe.

foodslut's picture
foodslut

.... about how well the loaves come out using thinner enamel cookware like that shown here, compared to heavier dutch ovens made of cast iron or similar materials.

Sounds like a neat little package.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

they could always use the enameled pot as a cloche for steaming too.   There the thinner the better it seems.  A great gift of sure FS.

Jessica Weissman's picture
Jessica Weissman

What size is the pot?  I'm tempted to experiment with baking in a light enamel pot that doesn't need preheating.  

Floydm's picture
Floydm

About a foot in diameter, I believe.

-F

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

with superior results.  Was the 3rd bake a pizza dough or another bread ?  And they ship sourdough starter too?  Imagine, just time for the Holidays too :-)  I wanted the 2nd edition of ITJB but now I'm not so sure......

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I did two loaves in the pot this weekend.  The second was a sourdough using my starter, not part of the kit.  The enamel pot is lighter than a dutch oven but I was super happy with the result: we had some tonight and I think it was one of the best sourdough loaves I've ever made.  Obviously the pot alone isn't the reason for that -- my starter is maturing nicely and I nailed it with the timing -- but the pan was more than adequate for job.

 

PeterS's picture
PeterS

All the components except for the book and the small packets of whatever they are can be had, dare I say, at any Walmart for quite a bit less... 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

True.  I was quite forthcoming about that in my review, as is Joe in his booklet.  He has stitched it all together quite nicely though, both at the presentation level and the documentation.  That is of value to some people in some scenarios, I believe.   

-F

rabbouchi's picture
rabbouchi

I sell my bread at local farmers' markets and get a lot of questions from people who would love to bake bread but are tentative about getting started. Finding everything in one package that one needs to get started is a great idea. It seems like an  unintimidating way for a beginner to get started. I'll be sure to mention it to my customers who are interested enough to want to try their own hand at baking, along with my usual recommendations of the books I used to get started. 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Even though you could probably get many of the items cheaper at some big retailer, they wouldn't look half as attractive as this neat package.

For a gift a nice presentation is also important, and I rather support a small business that took great care in putting it all together than a large corporation (where I wouldn't shop if in the first place, anyway.)

Karin

yy's picture
yy

Great idea. This is the sort of thing that gets lifelong bakers hooked. Reminds of those klutz craft kits that puts everything you need in a convenient package, which makes skills like quilting, painting and jewelry-making seem a lot less intimidating. There is certainly a premium paid for the presentation, but in my experience I've always found these kits to be worthwhile, and I've always looked back on them gratefully for helping me step up to a higher level.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

What a cute gift!  Now if I could only remember which of my in-laws it was who said her husband loves fresh bread but she never makes it for him.  Oh yes, the one who just had a spinal fusion.  Do you think the method would work for someone recovering from that sort of surgery?

It seems like the kind of thing there ought to be a joke about: Give someone a loaf of bread and they will eat for one day.  Teach someone how to bake bread and they will have their physician tell them to cut back on "carbs". 

carblicious's picture
carblicious

In some ways I'm amaze that this kit exists.  But at the same time, I can see it being a nice kick start to the bread baking habit.  Anyways, for those wanting to give the gift of bread making, I saw the Average Joe Artisan Bread kit on Groupon.