Friday, January 4, 2008

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

I found the bread recipe that I'm experimenting with published on a local TV website. So, here is what they published. The book starts with this basic dough recipe and also has tons of other doughs that follow the same basic principles. The book is "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Their website is

Master Recipe Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: the Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking (Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin?s Press, Nov 2007)

The full recipe as it appears in the book provides more detail, but most home bakers will be able to get a start on five-minute a day homemade bread with this short version of the recipe.

Preparation time: 15 minutes to prepare enough dough for four loaves, to be baked over four days. Each daily loaf will average 5 minutes of active preparation time.Makes four 1-pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water (about 100ยบ F)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)
Cornmeal for the pizza peel.

In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.
2.Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.
3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.
4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.
5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.
6.Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.
7. Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.
8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.
9.Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.
10.Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

(I do the original mix with a Kitchen Aid mixer)
What I like about this recipe over the No-Knead recipe is that you make enough for 4-8 loaves at one time - let it rise about 2 hrs - stick it in the refrigerator - and then make the bread by the loaf over the next 14 days. Each day that you make a loaf, you take less than a minute to shape the loaf and let it rise for up to 40 minutes - and bake for about 30 minutes. My experience with the No Knead was that our house is too cool in the winter, and it took over 30 hours to rise - and I had to do that for each loaf.

I still have some kinks to work out before I'm completely sold on this - but so far, I'm thinking it might be a winner.

If you're interested in the No Knead bread, Kitt has an excellent step-by-step post at


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the recipe. I think I'm going to try this one.

Trailhead said...

I'm going to save this for when I actually have a home kitchen again. It sounds excellent.

Giddy said...

Your loaf looks wonderful! I'm going to try your recipe, but I think I might try to cut it in half as we really don't eat that much bread. I checked out Kitt's recipe, but like you, our home is way too cool for a good rise.

Kitt said...

Cool is fine. It may just take a little longer. In my old house, I just put the dough in the gas oven with the door cracked. I the new place, the microwave is over the stove and has a light underneath it. If I leave that light on, it stays warm enough in the microwave.

Karen said...

This looks really good, and I like the idea of mixing all the dough and just baking a loaf at a time.

The picture from your last post is absolutely gorgeous! It was nice "seeing you" at my place again! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kris,

My name is Zoe Francois and I am one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day. Thank you so much for trying the bread, your loaf looks beautiful! I'm glad you've posted the recipe so others can try it.

There are two things that I do to prevent the dough from sticking to the peel. I use a generous amount of corn meal under the loaf and just before I slide it onto the stone I give the bread a slight nudge to make sure it isn't stuck to the peel. If it is, I dust just a little more cornmeal under the loaf.

I also use a metal bench scraper or spatula to clean the cornmeal off the stone so that I don't get smoked out of house and home. I find this only happens when I am baking pizza at 550 degrees so I was interested to read that you are having it happen at 450 degrees.

If you venture into the book check out the errata page on my website first. As much as we tried to catch all the errors while editing we missed some things.

Thanks again and I look forward to hearing more about your experience with the bread.


ps I can't believe you live in MN and can get your garden to look so absolutely gorgeous. You are an inspiration. It gives me hope!

kate said...

This doesn't seem too difficult to make. Bread is one of those things that I am reluctant to make since my previous efforts were such flops ...

It is good to have your tips - I'll let you know if I try this.

Greenie Gardens said...

I just ordered this on Amazon. Glad to hear you like it. The bread looks wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I have made this bread with half white flour and half wholemeal and its wonderful, so easy and the satisfaction of having home made bread as and when you feel like it with what seems like no effort at all. Its great.

Kitt said...

OK, I just mixed up the dough and may bake a small loaf tonight, just to see!

The brioche dough was very successful for the challah bread and pecan rolls, so it's time I tried your version. Thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)

Anonymous said...

I heard about this book from a friend and landed here. It is wonderful that one of the coauthors is warm and friendly. I wish more people were like that! I am going to go order a copy of the book; if this is the basic recipe I can't wait to see wait the rest are like.

Jeff Hertzberg said...

Hi Kris, hi Anonymous: I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Our website has become more interactive, with more instructionals-- we answer all the readers questions ourselves! Come visit us at, where you can post questions into any "Comments" field, or click on "Bread Questions" on the left side of the homepage and choose among the options.

Jeff Hertzberg

Chicago tribune video:

Chris said...

Thanks Jeff and Zoe for being generous in allowing the recipe to stay posted here and encouraging others to try it. I ordered the book two days ago, but I'll get a head start on the recipe tonight with this one.

Pyzahn said...

I just had bread from this recipe at a friend's house and it was fabulous. She did say though that UNBLEACHED flour was important. And she swears by how easy it is.

Anonymous said...

nice post

Maris said...

I really loved this recipe too! I have some dough still sitting in my fridge and I can't wait to make it again next weekend!

Maris said...

Also - I hope you don't mind but I copied your instructions for the bread rather than typing them directly from the book. I hope you don't mind :) Please let me know if it is a problem, but I think they'd be the same no matter. I just wanted to let you know for the sake of transparency.


Dazy said...

I'm making this today. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!