I can’t tell you how many people recommended that I try Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, a technique of bread baking that requires zero kneading and truly makes bread simple. I got the book from the library long ago and read up on Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois’s basic method, then finally my friend Shannon insisted that I just come on over for a lesson. “We’re making bread,” she said. “You have to see how easy this is.”
Who am I to pass up an invitation for lunch?
While the kids became pirates and played under the stairs, we baked and mixed and talked food. The loaf we created was gone after a delectable lunch of grilled cheese, and I remained impressed at how easy it was.
The original book has a 100% whole wheat sandwich bread recipe, which is what we made, and the authors’ new book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, has 100 new whole grain and gluten-free versions. (Funny thing – I just won that book last week from the Foodie blogroll, so I’ll get to experiment with new recipes in a few weeks!)
The new recipe includes 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten and part white flour, which will improve the rise considerably. I know some people are wary of using extra gluten regularly because of the risk of developing celiac disease, a gluten allergy, so I decided to play with the original recipe in my kitchen. The bread is NOT at all “healthy whole-grain-y” tasting or heavy at all, but it does turn out a bit dense and tough to get the middle all the way baked.
I need a little work perfecting the method, myself, because you’re not supposed to knead or work the bread at all, and I keep messing with it more than I should! You can see the steps with photos here. It’s really a great, easy way to accept this week’s Monday Mission, bake your own bread.
Original 100% Whole Wheat Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Recipe
1 1/2 C hot water
1 1/2 C cold milk
1 1/2T yeast
1T & 1tsp salt
5T neutral flavored oil
6 2/3C WW flour ( I used naturally white soft WW, it’s a little lighter and makes a fluffier bread than hard WW)
Mix the water, milk, salt and yeast until the yeast isn’t in a big chunk anymore. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix the whole thing together until uniform, but don’t knead or over work it. Cover and let rise for 2-3 hours.
With wet hands take a hunk out the size of a cantaloupe. Shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Bake free form or in a greased loaf pan. Loaf pan should be slightly more than half full. Slash the top of the bread with a very sharp serrated knife to allow it to expand better.
Let dough rest and rise 1 1/2 –2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 along with your baking stone if using, and pour 1-2C water into your METAL broiler pan at the bottom of the oven. Bake 40-50mins. Smaller loaves cook up much quicker so keep your eye on the bread and take it out when the crust is a nice deep golden brown.
You store the remaining dough in the refrigerator and simply grab a hunk when you want bread, form a loaf and allow it to rise a few hours. It keeps for 5-7 days. One batch is enough for about three loaves, and you can make pizzas or many other kinds of bread with the same master recipe. The fact that it’s waiting for you in your fridge after the 5-10 minutes you spend making it is the “five minutes a day” magic!
Here are the notes Katie would add to the baking instructions:
- Be sure to use melted butter or coconut oil for the fat, not canola or other unhealthy industrial oils.
- White whole wheat or traditional work great; I prefer a half-and-half mixture myself.
- Always heat water on the stovetop to get it hot; it’s not recommended to use hot tap water because hot water is more likely to leach lead and other problematic substances from your pipes.
- Alternately, you could allow the milk and water to come to room temperature and proceed from there. The hot water counteracts the cold milk for my friend who doesn’t want to wait for room temp ingredients.
- Non-chlorinated water always works best for bread. I’ve started leaving a jar of tap water on my counter at all times for bread and water kefir; leaving it open for 4-6 hours should allow the chlorine from the city water to evaporate out.
- If you don’t have a broiler pan, never use a glass pan!! Shannon did and it exploded in her oven. Only metal, folks. A cast iron pan will do fine.
- You can freeze the dough. Just thaw in the fridge overnight and allow for a nice long room temperature rise when you want to bake.
- You can use freshly ground wheat, according to the authors’ website. More on the health benefits of milling your own flour tomorrow!
- Mix the water, milk, salt and yeast until the yeast isn’t in a big chunk anymore. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix the whole thing together until uniform, but don’t knead or over work it. Cover and let rise for 2-3 hours.
- With wet hands take a hunk out the size of a cantaloupe. Shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Bake free form or in a greased loaf pan. Loaf pan should be slightly more than half full. Slash the top of the bread with a very sharp serrated knife to allow it to expand better.
- Let dough rest and rise 1½ –2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 along with your baking stone if using, and pour 1-2C water into your METAL broiler pan at the bottom of the oven. Bake 40-50mins. Smaller loaves cook up much quicker so keep your eye on the bread and take it out when the crust is a nice deep golden brown.
Can You Soak Artisan Bread?
You knew I’d ask that question, right? I think that was my initial hang-up with the method; I was just getting into soaking and sourdough, and I didn’t want to take a potential step backward in nutrition, even if it was easier. (If you haven’t been around KS lately, catch up on the soaking grains research.)
Jen at the Leftover Queen mentioned that she successfully soaked the olive oil bread recipe, so I jumped in to try to soak the master whole wheat recipe. The results were a bit sticky and an expected *fail*, but the reviews at the table last night included, “Mmmm, this is really good bread!” from the in-laws, so I guess it worked out alright! Here’s what I did:
Soaked Artisan Bread Attempt:
- Mixed 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/2 cup whey, 1/2 cup water with all the flour overnight. I threw in a little extra water because usually soaked breads need that, but that was an “oops”.
- Allowed to rest overnight.
- Stirred together 1/2 cup warm water, with the yeast, salt, honey and melted butter, shooting for about 110 degrees.
- I combined that mixture with the soaked flour. It was a mess! I had decided to try mixing with only a spoon to prove that you could in fact do this without fancy equipment like a KitchenAid mixer, (and you can without soaking!), but I ended up just mixing with my hands because it’s a tough thing to get water mixed in with something that already has the consistency of bread dough.
- I should not have used extra water; in fact, perhaps less water would be best. I added 1-2 cups white flour to get the dough from batter consistency back to bread dough. I was terrified of overdoing it and ending up with rock-dense bread, so I probably stopped a little short there.
- The bread rose fine and looked like this in a loaf, pretty mushy and flat:
- But the final product tasted good!
On my next soaked attempt:
- I will add the melted butter, and maybe half the honey, in the soaking step and go shy on the liquid until I saw the consistency.
- I will use my KitchenAid! There are reasons I never baked bread by myself, and mixing the ingredients is one of them. I love machines. 😉
- On the other hand, research shows that a rise with yeast does, in fact, reduce the phytates, although not as much as sourdough. My friend Shannon says she’s often made the dough right before bed and left it over night with no problem. I’m thinking just using the whey in place of 1/4-1/2 cup water and allowing the first rise to be about eight hours would suffice for “soaking”.
- Shannon has also forgotten the second rise and left if MUCH longer with no problems, which would again work to make the bread more digestible. Perhaps simplicity and laziness is the way to go with soaked Artisan Bread in Five!
Want to try it yourself? I’m so blessed to be able to give away BOTH Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day to my readers! Head over to the blogoversary celebration giveaway post to sign up (comments on this post will create a conversation about the Artisan in 5 method but will not count as an entry in the giveaway.) GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED.
Have you made bread with this method? Do tell, especially if you’ve attempted a “soak” or found that you can leave it at room temp for a long time.
I was not provided with any products for this review, but the publisher is providing copies of the books as giveaway prizes. There are Amazon affiliate links in this post. See my full disclosure statement here.