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.