Sep 7, 2012

Leah Ashton bakes bread!

By Leah Ashton

I love bread. I reckon I am the about last person in the world who would go on a no-carb diet - even the idea makes me feel a little sad :)

I also love to bake. But cakes, pies, biscuits etc... I've never made bread. That's for two reasons: 1. My kitchen storage is limited and there is no room for a breadmaker and 2. It always just seemed far too difficult to do by hand.

Then, on Facebook (I think via Mira Lyn Kelly?), I saw this book mentioned, and raved about: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Five minutes? And also no kneading? Right - I was a sold! So I ordered the book, and waited impatiently for it to arrive.

Now, the 5 minute thing refers to the effort of mixing the ingredients together - being yeast-based breads, there is of course some rising time. But - really - it was all far simpler than I imagined. I just bunged the ingredients into a big plastic container, took a minute to stir it together, then left on the bench to rise before putting the container in the fridge over night. Then all I had to do was take off a hunk of dough as needed - given the dough lasts for 14 days, and the mixture makes enough for about four small loaves - this was really efficient.

From my first batch of dough!
Even better, I had instant success! Check out my loaf from my first batch of dough!
The best home made pizza, ever!
Next I tried pizza dough - and trust me, this recipe makes the purchase of the book worthwhile. This pizza base is seriously restaurant quality. A-maz-ing!

Then I got a bit fancy. First was raisin bread, at the request of my husband. And then banana bread. Both were more effort - having to rise after mixing, then rise another few hours in the loaf tin - but still - totally worth it. There is nothing quite like the smell of baking bread in my house :) I still have half the banana bread dough in the fridge, so I'll bake that tonight, ready for breakfast Saturday morning.
Raisin bread
Anyway, while I've been baking, the characters of my new book were spinning about in my head. It took me a while to make the connection, but then I figured it out - my new heroine (Lanie) bakes bread. But not lazy bread like me - she's a serious baker, who has a sour-dough starter she's been nursing for years and who has a cupboard full of obscure seeds and flours. For Lanie, baking is her escape from the world - and it provides her reassurance. Bread is something she can control - and that if she follows her process, that she can guarantee will turn out well.

Of course, my hero, Gray, is not at all predictable and bread-like! I have lots of plans for Lanie and Gray, I just know sparks are going to fly :) And maybe, if Gray is lucky, Lanie will make him Raisin bread for breakfast one morning, too.

Oh - and before I forget - my second release, A Girl Less Ordinary, is part of the very exciting Riva re-launch in the UK! Here is the gorgeous cover, but you can find out all about the books at the Mills & Boon UK site, as well as by checking out the super sexy Riva Facebook App!


  1. Oh, yum, Leah! I could give up sugar but I don't know if I could ever give up bread. And I can't decide which looks more delicious -- your first loaf or your pizza?

    You've inspired me -- am heading straight off to the book depository to order Artisan Bread!

    P.S. Love the new A Girl Less Ordinary cover -- just gorgeous!

  2. Yum, Leah! You're bread goodies look fabulous! And what great research for your heroine, Lanie, to get your hands into some homemade bread!

    I'm fascinating by the technique you're using. When we've home (as we are now) I make all of our bread by hand and have for years - but I mix fresh dough each time. It'd be handy to have something sitting in the fridge ready to take out as needed.

    A Girl Less Ordinary looks awesome and I love that cover!

  3. Gads, should have proof read that, Leah! LOL!

    I meant "your bread goodies look fabulous" and "I'm fascinatED by the technique you're using"!

    Sharon - feeling anything BUT fascinating!

  4. Leah, congratulations on your launch with RIVA! That's a great cover. Can't wait to read Gray and Lanie's story!
    I'm not a very good cook, although I do try. Unfortunately my last effort at banana bread weighed as much as a brick. Kind of tasted that way too LOL

  5. I think you're fascinating, Sharon!

    GORGEOUS looking bread, Leah! There's something so therapeutic about the whole process of making it, isn't there?

    Loving that RIVA cover.

  6. Michelle, we had pizza yet again tonight! It's addictive :)

    Sharon - definitely check this technique out! It's fantastic getting so many loaves out of one chunk of effort and rising time. I've also bought the follow up book (Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), as I've just been so impressed with the process!

    Robyn - my husband complained that my banana bread was too much a bread, and not enough a cake :) I think he is used to that banana cake that masquerades as "banana bread" :)

    Marybelle - Thanks! I didn't think it would work out so well!

    Barb - I'm so lucky with that cover, aren't I?? I love it, too.

  7. Leah, what a great post just as I'm contemplating brekkie. I've got sourdough here but not home made and the fresh baked smell and texture is part of the whole experience, isn't it? These look fantastic.

    Congratulations on 'A Girl Less Ordinary' too. It looks like a lot of fun! I love the connection between your heroine and your private kitchen adventures.

  8. Leah, I love the look of your bread! I'm off to look that book up - I think it's just what we're in the mood for. :)