Monday, January 14, 2008

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day!

I heard about this recipe on NPR---The Splendid Table. I hurried home and checked out the recipe online and quickly made up a batch. I tried several other batches with my own variations and then of course I just had to buy the book. I've tried this basic recipe using half whole wheat flour. Also have added about 1 cup sourdough starter to the basic recipe. I have made bread for many years and this is probably the easiest recipe and also one of the best for crusty, hearty bread (our favorite type of bread). If you don't have a baking stone you really should get one, but until then a good substitute is a clay saucer from the garden shop---the ones that are red and go with the red clay pots. We use these outside on our barbecue for cooking pizza in the summer and they work great. Also, I have found that using parchment paper to raise the dough works easier than using the pizza peel, just pick up the edges of the paper and lift everything onto the stone.

Note from Min, 2/2009: I watched Becky make this bread this past weekend, and it is fast, easy, and delicious. I am embarrassed it has taken me so long to make any! Also, for anyone who's wondering, you can check out the authors', Jeff and Zoe, website at

Five-Minute Artisan Bread

December 15, 2007

From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007). Copyright 2007 by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

Serves 4

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance.

1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (about 1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6-1/2 cups unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting dough
In a large plastic resealable container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm (about 100 degrees) water. Using a large spoon, stir in flour, mixing until mixture is uniformly moist with no dry patches. Do not knead. Dough will be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of plastic container. Cover, but not with an airtight lid.

Let dough rise at room temperature, until dough begins to flatten on top or collapse, at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; refrigerated dough is easier to work with than room-temperature dough, so the authors recommend that first-time bakers refrigerate dough overnight or at least 3 hours.)

When ready to bake, sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel. Place a broiler pan on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and repeat oven to 450 degrees, preheating baking stone for at least 20 minutes.

Sprinkle a little flour on dough and on your hands. Pull dough up and, using a serrated knife, cut off a grapefruit-size piece (about 1 pound). Working for 30 to 60 seconds (and adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands; most dusting flour will fall off, it's not intended to be incorporated into dough), turn dough in hands, gently stretching surface of dough, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go, creating a rounded top and a bunched bottom.

Place shaped dough on prepared pizza peel and let rest, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it in lidded container. (Even one day's storage improves flavor and texture of bread. Dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in airtight containers and defrosted overnight in refrigerator prior to baking day.) Dust dough with flour.

Using a serrated knife, slash top of dough in three parallel, ¼-inch deep cuts (or in a tic-tac-toe pattern). Slide dough onto preheated baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into broiler pan and quickly close oven door to trap steam. Bake until crust is well-browned and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool completely.


Min said...

Yeah, Becky! You did it! This looks great, I can't wait to try it.

Min said...

I also LOVE the red clay saucer idea! What size do you use for pizza?

Jeff Hertzberg said...

I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day. Thanks for trying the bread! If you have questions, please post them on our bread blog at

Jeff Hertzberg

Anonymous said...

I am wondering how the addition of your sourdough started went? You said you added it to the basic recipe. Did you have to allow the bread a longer time to rise given that sourdough starter sometimes has a negative effect on commercial yeast?


reddquilter said...

Sourdough artisan bread---I added about 1 cup sourdough starter and decreased the yeast by 1/2.
I didn't find any negative effect on the yeast. I also have tried it without any yeast at all---it does take a bit longer to rise, but I think this is my favorite way.
Hope this helps!

Kelly said...

i'm psyched to hear about adding sourdough starter...I bought the book hoping to do it with sourdough but don't see any official recipes for that...though it sounds like the old dough takes on a tang. I can't wait to try it.

Min said...

Good luck, Kelly! Come back and let us know how it works for you.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried plain white flour, instead of the unbleached. Also what ratio of whole wheat to unbleached do you use, and is the procedure the same?

Min said...

I don't know about plain white flour, I prefer unbleached in everything. You could pop over to Jeff's website ( and ask him about white flour.

Becky uses about 1/2 wheat and 1/2 unbleached, I bet the procedure is the same.

Anonymous said...

For those having trouble adding the water when the oven is hot. I put the broiler pan in the cold oven, added about 3 cups of water, then heated the oven. It was very steamy when I started baking the bread. I baked for 15 minutes, then removed the pan of water and continued baking 15 more minutes. The results were wonderful. I have no baking stone, so was using a metal loaf pan, and I had a wonderful hard shiny crust all the way around, even in the loaf pan. I would love more information on the clay large, etc. They always seemed fragile, so wondered how they stood up to the high heat.

Min said...

Anon, thanks for visiting, I will have Becky address your clay saucer questions.

I'd just like to say: I saw Becky and Gina in action with this bread over the weekend, and I am embarrassed it has taken me so long to try this! The bread is super fast and wonderful, and Becky made scrumptious focaccia from the dough as well! I am impressed, and I am heading off to make some dough!

Everyone should try this method!

Esther said...

I started using plain out flour instead of King Arthur to save money :-(. It works great, though there is a slight difference in taste. I made Blueberry bread this weekend, adapting the Judy's Boardroom Bread recipe from the book. My adaption is here:

Wendy D. said...

Made dough for this bread on the California coast last night. Baked some this morning. Here are my ratings.

Easy: high
Convenience: high (few ingredients—didn't even use the cornmeal; few requiremnts—didn't use a stone or clay saucer)
Recipe accuracy: high
Taste: good, not great, but may improve over time
Overall: I miss the opportunity to knead the bread. I like having the dough on hand. Won't be a staple, but a fall-back, recipe for me.

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