Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a DaySome say that necessity is the mother of invention, and in many cases this is true. But convenience – and laziness, as it could even be put – can certainly be a key part of the process, as in “I need to work less hard to get what I want.” This just might be the kind of thinking that inspired Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The cookbook takes a simple no-knead breadmaking technique and spins it out into about 100 different recipes for breads that are similar to what long-time pro bakers can produce.

The technique in question is one that uses a very wet dough which rises in the refrigerator, forcing a slow rise that develops flavor but involves very little (5 minutes or so) active handling of the dough. The specific “master recipe” used in the book was developed by author Jeff Hertzberg over the course of several years of baking and tweaking the formula. The method is not uncommon at all, but Hertzberg has certainly packaged it in a unique way by giving homebakers so many options of what to do with it. The book includes recipes for simple crusty breads, baguettes, pastries and flatbreads – and because the recipes all pretty much start out the same way, once you get the hang of the technique you can certainly adapt it to your own taste preferences.

All of the instructions are easy to follow and the book spends a good amount of time talking about the technique (and why it works) before even getting to the recipes, so it makes a good crash course in breadmaking for those who haven’t really done it much before. For more experienced home bakers, the book gives you a good chance to try a new method that should (assuming all goes will) turn out artisan-style breads without too much work.

7 comments

  1. Have you seen the “no-knead” recipe in this month’s issue of Cook’s Illustrated? With their method you really do end up with an craft bakery loaf. I have made six loaves so far with their recipe and it is truly fool-proof and superb. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

  2. Thanks Nicole.

    I’m Jeff Hertzberg, one of the authors of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” The key to our method, which distinguishes it from other “no-knead” recipes, is that our dough is stored for up to two weeks, to be used whenever it’s convenient during that time. That’s the source of the time-savings, and the spontaneity.

    How did your loaves turn out, especially when you saved the dough for longer than a few days in the fridge?

    Jeff Hertzberg
    http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com

  3. Following are my comments on my first trial of baking Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day:
    1. hard to determine for how long dough should rise after coming out of refrigerator
    2. dough is very wet (after 19 hours in refrigerator), difficult to handle, and transfer to baking stone
    3. bread internal did not have large voids as I had expected after 1 3/4 hour rise after coming out of refrigerator
    4.bread appearance and flavor very good
    5. crust was soft but becomes crunchy after the bread is placed in the oven at 275* for about ten minutes (used pan w/water to generate steam).
    Used 3/4 tablespoon of instant yeast.
    I would love to try again after resolving items 1,2 $ 3.

  4. Jerry, read the book. It’s pretty simple. You let it rise way too long. 20-30 minutes max. I was shocked to see how much rise it got in the oven, about 4 times the starting volume. And bake it at 450 for a crunchy crust.

    I just got my book a few days ago and am a huge convert. I’ve been baking bread frequently for years and this is by far the easiest!

  5. Dave,
    the recipe I have (from krisgardens.blogspot.com) calls for an initial rise of 2-5 hours at room temperature. After the initial rise, the dough can be refrigerated up to 14 days. There was a typo error in my previous: I did bake at 450* for 35 minutes. Sorry for the confusion.

  6. I love this book. We needed to cut back a lot with our spending and we (my family, husband and 4 kids) love really good, hearty bread. I make a loaf almost every day. I love the bread but what makes it special is when my kids run up to me, hug me and say “Thanks mom for making us bread.” What’s better then that?!
    I found that for me the bread turned out better when I left out the pan of water during baking.

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