Friday, January 23, 2009

The religion of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

My friends, need I say more to get you non-believers on the path? Just get the good book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois, and it will change your life. I can get home from work and have a hot, freshly baked loaf on the table in about an hour and a half. Folks, I did discover one drawback, though. This method takes away all the "fun" and guesswork I used to have trying to make artisan breads: wildly inconsistent starters, risings, timings, results, etc. Now -- sigh, ho hum -- my breads almost always have perfect crust, crumb and flavor. Watch the authors and see how easy it is to impress yourself, family and friends. Say Hallelujah!

Basic Boule (makes about eight 1-lb. loaves)
by “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”

1450 g lukewarm water (6 cups)
3 tbsp regular yeast
3 tbsp salt
1850-1900 g unbleached AP flour (13 cups)
can substitute up to 250 g with whole wheat or rye flour

Measure out the water into your bread bucket. Sprinkle in the yeast and salt and stir to dissolve. Add the flour and stir with a stiff spoon and/or wet hands until all the flour is incorporated. The dough may be slack and a little lumpy. Cover or close the bucket loosely and let sit on the counter for about 2 hours, then keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake, place a piece of parchment on your peel and dust it with cornmeal. Using a bread knife, cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough from the bucket. Place on a floured surface and "round" or "cloak" the dough by gently pulling the outside of the dough into a smooth, firm ball (about 2 minutes or less). Place the boule on the parchment smooth side up and let rest for 40-90 min. 30 min. before baking,
preheat the oven (containing a baking tile on one shelf and a broiler pan on another) @ 450°F. Dust the boule with flour and use a greased bread knife or santoku to slash the top (x, +, or tic-tac-toe design) 1/4"-1/2" deep. Get a cup of hot tap water ready. Open the oven, slide the parchment and dough gently onto the tile, carefully pour the hot water into the broiler pan, and close the door quickly. After 15 min. you may remove the parchment if desired. Allow the loaf to bake until deep golden brown, about 35-55 min. Use your peel to remove the boule from the oven and put on a rack to cool completely. TIPS: Bread made from week-old refrigerated dough tastes best! No need to wash the bucket, scrape the sourdough bits into your new batch! For more tips and errata, go to

1 comment:

  1. I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I'm so glad our recipes are working well for you. Come visit us anytime 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: