February 19th, 2014

Amaaaaazing quick and easy homemade bread in minutes

Boule from Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook | One Hungry Mama

I don’t typically like making bread. Even no-knead seems like too much work, or at least takes too much time, but a new cookbook discovery has changed all that. Thanks to The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, I’m currently obsessed with baking bread from scratch. It’s easy with this book’s completely groundbreaking-to-me approach. Seriously. I think you could get hooked, too. And, yes, I know how busy you are!

Making bread from scratch might seem insane to many of you crazed mamas and papas, but part of what’s so great about The New Artisan Bread approach is that you can take 10 active minutes on Saturday or Sunday to make dough that will sit ready-to-go in your fridge for up to 14 days. Then, when you decide it’s time to make bread anytime in that 2 week period, you take another 10 minutes to prep a loaf, let the bread rest, and then bake.

There is no kneading, no punching, and only one major rise (with some rest time on bake day). And though the book encourages a pizza peel and baking stone, I managed to make that amazing boule pictured above using a thin wooden cutting board coated with cornmeal and small cast iron skillet. No special equipment.

Seriously amazing.

There are tons of bread recipes in the book—from sourdough to brioche—but the master recipe makes tons of different kinds of breads. I recently made quick Indian-Style Spinach with Chickpeas and, instead of making rice, grabbed dough out of my fridge, spent 5 minutes rolling out disks, and threw them in a pan with hot, melted butter to make fresh naan. Fresh naan with dinner—crazy!

Homemade Naan | One Hungry Mama

To give you a sense of what this book is about, I’ve shared my abridged version of the master dough/boule recipe below. If you think I’m nuts for even suggesting scratch bread, I hope you’ll give the recipe a try. It’s honestly a revelation that will blow your mind if there’s even a tiny piece of you that likes the idea of making your own bread. Remember: like you, I cook dinner in 20-45 minutes every night. I get that you’re crazed, but also know that you love the idea of trying new, easy ways to feed your family delicious, homemade food. This is one of those ways.

If you’re already sold, I strongly suggest that you invest in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. It is chock full of important details, easy recipe variations, and helpful hints.

The master recipe below makes about 4 loaves. I halved it and was able to make naan for 4 and one boule—a good start I think. I recommend you do the same.

The Master Bread Recipe for Boule (and other breads)
From The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
Makes about 4 loaves of bread

3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F, not hotter)
1 tablespoon granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Begin by making sure that the water feels just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Pour the water into a 6-quart bowl (one that pairs with a stand mixer if using one; keep in mind that it’s easy enough to mix the dough by hand with a spoon) or a lidded, but not airtight, food container. I used a large dutch oven. Add yeast and salt to water and gently stir two or three times.

2. To the water, add flour all at once. Mix in the flour using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or using a wooden spoon. There’s no need to knead the dough. You’re done mixing when the dough is uniformly moist, without dry patches; it should only take a couple of minutes, at most.

3. Cover the container with a lid that fits well but can be cracked open so that it is not completely airtight. If you’re using a bowl without a lid, cover it loosely with plastic wrap (not a towel!). Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. You can use a portion of the dough at any time after this first (and only!) 2-hour rise. After this point, you can refrigerate the dough for use at any point in the next 14 days.

NOTE: If your container isn’t vented, allow gases to exacpe by leaving it open a crack for the first couple of days in the fridge. You can close to it airtight after that. However long you leave the dough in the fridge, do not punch it down. Just grab what you need every time you bake, and leave the rest as is.

4. On baking day, prep a pizza wheel with cornmeal or parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking to it when you slide the loaf into the oven (the parchment will slide right onto the baking stone along with the loaf). I don’t have a pizza wheel and, instead, use a small, lightweight, wooden cutting board. Dust the surface of your just risen or refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough using a serrated knife or kitchen shears. Hold the dough in one hand and dust with more flour as needed so that it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough from the top around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off, which is okay. The top of the loaf should look relatively smooth and stretched, while the bottom may appear to be a collection of bunched ends. Don’t worry: the bottom will flatten out during baking. This whole process should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds—don’t overwork the dough.

5. Place the shaped loaf on the prepped pizza peel (or cutting board), and allow it to rest for about 40 minutes, uncovered.

6. In the meantime, preheat a baking stone near the middle of the oven to 450 degrees F, which will take about 20-40 minutes. I don’t have a baking stone and use a small cast iron pan instead. Place an empty metal broiler tray for holding water on any shelf that won’t interfere with bread and allow this to preheat, too.

7. When the loaf is done resting, dust the top of it liberally with flour and slash a 1/2″ deep cross or tic-tac-toe board pattern into the top with a serrated knife. Open the oven and carefully slide the loaf off of your peel (or cutting board) and onto the hot stone (or cast iron pan). Carefully pour 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, pulling the parchment paper off (if used) at about 20 minutes. When done, the crust should be richly browned and firm to the touch. Allow the loaf to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack, for best results.

10 Responses

  1. Lucy says:

    Sounds wonderful! I am going to try this with gluten free bread — I am so desperate for good rustic bread. Do you think I ought to throw in a bit of xanthan gum? I guess I should probably just try it both ways and report back, but I thought you might have some insight to share. Thanks!

  2. Amanda says:

    I always have this in my fridge. Quick pizza, bread bowls for soup, worlds best croutons, French toast? Easy. I bought their original book and it changed my life.

  3. One Hungry Mama says:

    @Lucy – the book has a gluten free recipe that doesn’t call for anything too fancy – just a few basic GF flours. I tried that recipe first and, honestly, it didn’t come out great. want to try it again, though. I wonder if my yeast was bad. Anyway, you might want to look into that. I’ve also had the thought of making the master recipe using a GH blend, but then wonder why, if the results are good, the authors wouldn’t have just suggested that in the first place. Surely if it worked, they would have as opposed to developing their own GF master recipe? I should get in touch with them and ask! Anyway, let me know if you try this with GF flour. And, as for xanthan gum: I’m by no means a GF baking expert, but i’ve heard that it’s often good to boost store-bought blends with XG, especially if it isn’t already included. I tend to use Cup4Cup which works well as a straight substitute in most recipes and has XG in it. I use it sparingly, though, since we’re not a strict GF family and, well, it’s super expensive, so I haven’t tested it extensively enough to know if you should add XG if using it to make this bread. Sorry that I’m not more helpful!

    @Amanda – I love that you have this on hand all the time. It’s totally changing my life, too. So great! Thanks for sharing.

  4. With a title like that I had to click over! And you’ve now convinced me that I NEED this book. :) Thank you!

  5. Kirsten says:

    Life changing! Thank you. I’ve already ordered the book.

  6. One Hungry Mama says:

    I think you’ll love the book. I’m SO excited about it! -S, xo

  7. I think I need to grab this book! I’ve recently started grinding my wheat for bread so I’m getting into the whole daily loaf. ;)

  8. One Hungry Mama says:

    oh my – of all people – you DO need to grab this! xo

  9. Tatyana says:

    Love the recipe but I am confused. How is it different from no-knead bread? :) I often use a recipe that actually takes less time than this one: http://natashaskitchen.com/2012/02/26/no-knead-artisan-bread-recipe/

    In minutes but hours?! :)

  10. One Hungry Mama says:

    It’s just like that recipe, Tatyana! Can that recipe’s dough store in the fridge? Also, how else can it be used? I bet you can handle it similarly to this master dough, but I love the book because it’s tells you all that. I mean, I had NO IDEA that the dough could stay in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. And they give the recipe in quantities that make it easy to make a dough once and make fresh bread over the course of a week or two instead of making the dough each and every time. Also, the book has multiple dough recipes, each as simple as this one, and SO so many different breads, from pizza crust to sourdough to—you name it!—that have made making bread so much easier for me than just having a single no-knead loaf recipe, if that makes any sense. If you’re an intrepid baker, though, you can probably figure much of it out on your own—I just couldn’t until this book came into my life. :-)

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