Sunday, January 18, 2009

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes

My friend Diane told me about this book this week, and I was completely skeptical. But she was glowing in her praise, so I did some internet research and found this excellent video tutorial (by the authors) and the Master Recipe (which I was hoping to link, but now can't find). I also spent a lot of time on their website and reading various food blogs critiquing the book.

Since it didn't take a lot of ingredients and wasn't super labor intensive, I gave the Master Recipe a try this weekend. Here's how it went...

Mix together 1 1/2 TB yeast, 1 1/2 TB salt, 3 cups lukewarm water, 6 1/2 cups flour. (This is the full recipe, but I halved everything and used 1/3 part wheat flour.) The dough really did come together in 5 minutes, even with Boo helping me. Boo and I like to taste the dough, and I was upset by how salty it was (Boo, on the other hand, didn't care - she would eat salt plain). This would not be first time I had oversalted something. But I popped it in the fridge anyway and didn't worry about it again until evening when I sliced off a chunk of dough and set it to rise. I tasted the dough again and it wasn't nearly so salty.

After about 1 hour and 40 minutes of rising, on my well-floured cutting board (you should use a pizza peel and cornmeal if you have them) it was time to slash and bake. I preheated the pizza stone for 20 minutes (middle rack) before sliding the round loaf in (450 degrees). I also added a cup of water to a metal pan on the rack beneath the stone. I overcooked it a tiny bit, but it tasted decent. J tried some this afternoon and said it was EXACTLY like the bread he used to eat everyday in Portugal.

Today I cooked the second half of the dough. This part is, I think, the beauty of this kind of bread. I came home from church, pulled out the rest of the dough, set it to rise while I made some soup, and then popped it in the oven an hour and a half later. Although it takes time for it to rise and bake, my actual hands on time was probably less than 2 minutes. Supposedly the dough will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. So you make the dough one day (in five minutes) and then over the next two weeks, just cut off a chunk of dough when you need a new loaf. The longer it sits, the more of a sourdough taste you get. Food blogs say the prime taste is at about 3 days. FYI, all the clever things about this recipe (cooking it on a stone, water on the lower rack, etc.) came from the tutorial.

I got a prettier loaf the second time around. And the extra time in the fridge really did make a difference - it tasted GREAT. The bottom and top crusts were perfect.

Looks just like a Panera Bread loaf. :)

I got on the waiting list at the library, but it looks like it will be a few months before my turn. We happened to be at Barnes and Noble last night, so I browsed the book for a few minutes. And it looks fantastic. The whole wheat bread looks just as easy, and not too different, so I will give that a try this week. The pastry section had me drooling (ganache filled something or other, OH MY), and a ton of other recipes for pizza crust, soft pretzels, challah, and the list goes on.


  1. This sounds similar to the no-knead bread I've made before, but better. I'll have to look into this book.

  2. This sounds really cool. I'm not a big baker, but you are making me want to be with all your great recipes you post! Now, if only I had more time.

  3. This sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing. I'm really trying to learn how to do all these things {i.e. cooking and house keeping such and all of that}. Thanks for putting all of this on your blog :)

  4. Andrea, thanks for sharing! I can't wait to try it!

  5. Great idea! I may even become a bread maker. We are definitely going to try this. Ask J if what he ate in Portugal was pao d'agua.

  6. That looks awesome. How long did you bake it for?