14 January 2009

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François is one of my all time favorite books. It takes all the fussiness out of baking. One you grasp the concept, baking bread couldn't be easier.

The book has its own website: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day to give you more info.
It is important to understand the concept of why the bread works and it the most complicated part of the procedure. You need to buy the book to fully understand it.

Their recipe was adapted for the New York Times. Here are the NYT instructions.

November 21, 2007

Recipe: Simple Crusty Bread

Adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)

Time: About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours’ resting and rising

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough


1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Yield: 4 loaves.

Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

The New York Time wrote about Jim Lahey who owns Sullivan Street Bakery. He has a no-knead bread technique which works in a similar fashion. I often use the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipe and use Lahey's technique of cooking in a covered, heavy pan.

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