View and Review: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Posted by Adam | Posted in , , , | Posted on Saturday, November 14, 2009

While reading recipes online are great, complete with pictures and colored fonts... sometimes nothing beats a good, hardbound book. Something you pick up, place down, accident cover with flour and cocoa smudges... ya know the usual sign of good wear and tear :)

I think its a great idea to give back every once in a while to help out those around you. Donate to a T-giving food drive, join a civic group, help strangers load groceries in there car... whatever makes you feel like you are making a difference. Help raise awareness... that's a BIG one. (That's what she said) :)

And we do exactly that with BloggerAid: Changing the Face of Famine. There are many, many people our there in less than favorable circumstances than ourselves, and it's important to acknowledge this and help out any way that we can. With the concept of View and Review, publishers have agreed to donate their books, so we can read, review, and help raise awareness of world hunger together, it's a pretty cool win-win :).

So what awesome book did I get? Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, published by Thomas Dunne Books.

Now, this book has received quite a bit of hype in the past year or so. I remember hearing about it back when I first started blogging, and I knew there was something special about it. Who doesn't like fresh bread? Nobody. Who has the time to bake bread and wait for raising times all day long? Just about nobody. So the thing I love about this book is that it fixes that. You break the bread preparation up over the course of a few days, with as little as 5 minutes being needed.

The beauty is that the bread dough stays in the fridge and raises on it's own. You can wrestle with your kids, go to work, wash the dog, take a girl out... it's ok, the bread doesn't mind. It stays for up to two weeks in the fridge... and gets better as it slowly ferments everyday! I love this for busy people like ourselves.

When it's time to bake, you take out a portion of the dough, shape it, preheat your oven, let it rest for a little over a half hour, slash it, and bake it. Done. It's so simple a neanderthal could do it. Which means I'll have it done in edible fashion to say the least :)

The book's concept is killer, but what I really enjoy are the recipes (obviously). You have standard favorites like baguettes, to whole wheat and rye peasant loaves (close to my heart, sauerkraut anyone?), to more dessert type breads like brioche and babka and panettone (good for this time of year). So I don't know what more you could want :)

And the step by step instructions are great. The authors focus on teaching you exactly what to do, and trouble shoot when things don't go perfectly as planned. While my first loaves didn't turn out stellar, I'm convinced that with a little practice and trial and error, I'll make it in no time. It's like having a teacher watch over you... without the ruler in her hand and the red pens.

The recipe I went with is the one that you ALL should start with. Its the foundation of a good bread... the almighty Boule loaf. It's ingredients are simple, and everyone will love it.

Almighty Boule
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes about four 1 pound loaves... can be halved and doubled, fyi

-3 cups lukewarm water (like body temp)

-1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast

-1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt

-6 1/2 cups unbleached, AP flour

I'm going to give you my version of the quick directions. If you'd like to know more, you can visit Zoe's Awesome Website, or of course buy the book :)

In a large 5 quart container, add the water, salt and yeast. Stir a little, it doesn't have to dissolve. Add the flour all at once, and stir with a big wooden spoon, until it is all incorporated. You may want to use your hands once it gets started, just to make sure the mixture turns into a dough and stays together. Don't worry if it's not perfect, and don't knead. The dough will be pretty sticky and wet, but that's fine... remember it's going to sit in the fridge for awhile.

Cover it with a lid that's not airtight, and let it rise. I would let it rise overnight...

Relax and go to sleep dreaming of bread :)

When you're ready to bake, grab a piece of dough the size of a grapefruit and cut it off with a flour dusted, sharp knife. With your floured hands, stretch the dough out like a saucer, and fold it out underneath itself, gathering the ends together.

Place this dough on a floured cutting board, or on a cookie sheet if you don't have a baking stone.
Let it rest for 20 minutes... go do something fun.

Preheat your oven to 450* and place the rack on the center or close to the bottom, place your broiler tray or some oven proof vessel on a rack in the top of the oven. If you have a baking stone, place it on that middle rack.
Let the dough rest for another 20 minutes, and it should have risen a little. Don't worry if it didn't too much, it will make up for it in the oven.

Dust and slash your knife, and make a cris cross or line patterns on the top of the loaf.
Even if you oven isn't up to temperature, take the dough and place it on your baking stone with a pizza peel, or place your cookie sheet with rested dough in the oven. Pour one cup of water in the broiler tray/oven proof container and close the door to trap the steam. 30 or so minutes later, you'll have brown crisp crusted dough... TA DA :)

Look at that crust. This is what bread is supposed to be. If you like that WonderStuff... well I don't know what to tell you :) Thanks Jeff and Zoe for showing us that bread can be done right, and done in time :)

While this review has been long overdue, I want to thank Giz and Val for being patient with me, and allowing me the fantastic opportunity to view and re-view this book. I am a better baker because of this, and I had a blast learning something new. I plan on making many of the loaves in this book, and feeding my hungry family, friends, and neighbors. Nothing says friendship like a good loaf of bread :)

Comments (32)

I love it Adam - now I'm wanting to start making bread myself (something I've always been afraid to try). Great post.

Hi Adam,

I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the book and the bread you baked. I'm so pleased to have another bread baker among us! The crumb on that loaf is absolutely gorgeous!

Thanks, Zoë

I haven't heared of BloggerAid, that's really nice. So is your bread!!! I love that book, I have dough in my fridge right now actually. Isn't it great to bake bread?! Enjoy the rest of the weekend my dear!

I realy love this ADAM, miss you a lot dear , how is all at home???
This bread look absolutely tasty and amazing, xxgloria

I love the nook !! gloria

I agree - give me a tangible cookbook ANY day over internet sources! Hence the fact my bookshelves are overflowing with cookbooks, haha ;)

hey! you made bread! awesome. pretty easy right? now you'll be hooked, and now you can kick it up a notch by adding stuff to it.
how's the new house going? our house hunting/home inspection has been a nightmare.

We are HUGE fans of ABin5. Love how easy the bread is and how tasty it is too:) Try pizza crust or baguettes next:) Their new Healthy ABIn5 is great too!

Adam, the bread looks amazing. I just recently started using yeast and found it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Actually, it's kind of fun. Great job kiddo.

There has been hype about this book for a while so I am so glad you had the opportunity to master the boule:D I can imagine the wonderful aromas wafting through your kitchen.

I love this bread and yours looks perfect!

Blogger Aid is a wonderful organization and I'm proud to also be a part of it!

What a wonderful book to review and what beautiful bread! The crust does looks perfect! Nice job Adam!

I love to make that recipe. It's even good as a pizza crust. Nice picture!

that's some stellar looking bread there! What I like the most is that you can make however much you want at a time.

Good call on the football =P

What amazing looking bread. It is screaming for me to toast a slice and put a dab of butter on it. PERFECT job!

Great review...fantastic writing, glorious photos. Looks like everyone else has said it all.

Let me just add that I know Jeff and Zoe have a NEW bread book out that should be equally awesome.

That is incredible looking homemade bread.

I heard so much positive review about this book. Glad it works out well for you.

i love their recipes! i make the boule loaves all the time... and have been planning a special recipe with them in the next week or two.

yea, bloggeraid!

Holy Cow! That bread looks delicious. Your book review was good! Although, I love bread, I can't seem to want to bake it, just eat it.

Blogger Aid is a great cause. Raising awareness of world hunger is an important issue. Noone should ever be hungry. Thanks for spreading the word.

Hey, I actually love wonderbread..just kidding!! This looks way better, especially that crust. Most of the times I make bread, I can't blog about it because it comes out looking raw and pale even though it's cooked. I love your simplified directions. It definitely makes bread making more fun!

I've been wanting this book for awhile now.

Your bread/crust looks perfect! Nicely done.

Your bread looks fanTAStic :) BloggerAid sounds like a great cause...and free books are always fun. I definitely can identify with the flour-and-cocoa smudged cookbooks thing - all mine are!

this bread looks amazing!! I bet they will be perfect with my home-made cherry jams!! could you send some over here?

ps, im sure your muscles helped a lot in kneading perfectly your bread :-)

The bread look aaamazing. Fantastic job!

i like the sounds of blogger aid! and what a great book to review :) i just got healthy bread in 5 and can't wait to read it!

Your 'Almighty Boule' looks mighty good to me :)

Looks like another book I have to add to my collection. Bread looks great!

WOW - beautiful bread! I have Zoe's new book on healthy breads and can't wait to dig in!

Wow Adam, nice job! This is a great review. Very fun to read.

Oh my, Adam, this is positively dreamy bread!! Seriously dreamy... :-)

Thank you for the great book review, too - I definitely need to put this text on my "dream list" immediately! :-)

There's nothing better than homemade bread - yum! Thanks for the book review, I'll have to check it out!