I love bread. Always have and always will. There's absolutely nothing better than a fresh loaf of bread.
Above is one of two loaves I baked today. Sure, the crumb isn't all full of large irregular holes, but it does have the perfect "custard" crumb (see the shiny large hole to the left) and it's not as crusty as I would have liked (I was sort of rushing during shaping and baking) but it was delicious.
Since I had two loaves (shaped as boules), beautiful tomatoes & lettuce from my CSA and a package of Smart Bacon that I had forgotten about in the back of the fridge, tonight's dinner was vegan BLTs! The other loaf I'm saving for tomorrow to eat with fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil and a splash of balsamic. Simple and delicious.
Basic artisan breads are almost always vegan since they are only supposed to contain flour, yeast, water and salt. Totally vegan soft sandwich breads are a little harder to find since they have all sorts of hidden ingredients that aren't vegan friendly or ingredients that are hard to tell whether it's from plant sources (e.g., mono and diglycerides). Even though they are harder to find, you can still find them but usually they aren't that cheap. Artisan breads? We're talking anywhere between $2 to $5 a loaf. Forget that!
Anyway, I stopped buying both types of bread ages ago because I couldn't justify spending the money on something I could make for a fraction of the cost. I have a lovely bread machine that I use to make soft sandwich bread weekly (a half whole wheat "buttermilk" loaf). It was a gift from my sister several years ago and I still use it to this day. As for the artisan loaves, I make them by hand. I've been experimenting with a few different recipes and techniques with delicious results. I started with the No Knead one but have graduated from that and now make bread using a combination of recipes and techniques from two great books: Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day and The Bread Baker's Apprentice.
If you bake bread or want to try, get both books. If you are a cookbook whore (looking at you Lisa!) or only like reading about bread, then get The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Bread making is a lot of fun and for most artisan breads, you really just need flour, water, salt and yeast. Forgot spending so much money on artisan loaves and give it a try. :)
Oh, the beautiful vegan plate was purchased from Jeanette Zeis of Vegan Dish. Beautiful beautiful stuff!
P.S. Bonus pic: Mr. Marbles.