Some 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.