We both recently started making our own bread. One reason for this is that we are eating more and more organic foods and growing our own veges so making our own bread was just one more step towards knowing what we are eating. Commercial bread is full of additives and preservatives. We know exactly what goes into our bread.
The bread recipe we use is from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking recipe book by Jeff Hertzber and Zoe Francois, which is available in both hard copy and kindle. We have both, but I like to work from the Kindle app on the iPad.
Now what is so great about this bread recipe?
Well it takes only 5 minutes to make, there is NO kneading required and the mixture keeps in the fridge for around 14 days so you can just pull off a lump of dough to make a fresh loaf when you need it.
The book has around 100 recipes so that you can make different kinds of bread but we generally make the basic dough mix which makes enough for four 1 pound loaves. Although you can double or halve the recipe to suit your family’s requirements, we find that the standard recipe works well for two to four people.
Master Recipe for 5 Minute Artisan Bread:
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast (equivalent to 2 packets). I no longer use packet yeast but loose yeast granuals
- 1½ tablespoons Kosher salt or other coarse salt
- 6½ cups flour, unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose (not strong)
Preparing Dough for Storage:
1.. Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. With cold water it will need 3-4 hours.
2. Add the yeast to the water in a 5 quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. I use a large Tupperware rectangular modular mate container.
Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.
Adding the Yeast
Yeast Added to the Warm Water
3. Mix in the flour and salt – kneading is unnecessary. Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula. Don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement.
Use Scoop & Sweep Method
Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. I have just started using my Cuisinart hand mixer which also did an admirable job.
If you’re hand mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead, it isn’t necessary.You know the dough is ready when everything is uniformly moist, without any dry patches. It takes a few minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.
- Stir the flour into the yeast mixture
Mixing the bread dough
4. Put the dough aside to allow it to rise. Cover with lid (I just sit the lid on top of the container and don’t seal it otherwise it could explode from the trapped gases). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approx 2 hours, depending on room temperature, and initial water temperature. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes as longer rising times, up to 5 hours, won’t harm the result.
Bread dough rising
5. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature.
On Baking Day:
1. You can bake this bread in a prepared loaf tim, tray, or whatever you’ choose to bake it in or on. I simply use a Pizza Stone. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with four. Pull up and cut of a grapefruit-size piece of dough (approximately 1 lb), using a serrated knife.
2. Hold the dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off – that’s fine, it isn’t meant to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will sort itself out during resting and baking.
Stretch the bread dough
3. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 – 60 seconds.
Bread formed into roll
4. Rest the loaf and let it rise in the form, on the tray/pizza peel, for about 40 minutes. I use a small round board sprinkled with Polenta, which I find helps stops the dough sticking and helps it to easily come free when transferring it to the pizza plate.
Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period. That’s fine, more rising will occur during baking.
5. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.
6. Dust and Slash. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a quarter inch deep cross, diagonal lines, or tic-tac-toe pattern on top using a serrated knife.
Bread dough floured and slashed
7. After a 20 min preheat you’re ready to bake, even though the oven thermometer won’t be at full temperature yet. Put your loaf in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of hot water (from the tap) into the broiler tray and close the oven to trap the steam.
8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.
9. Eat with your favorite topping – yummo
Baked bread with a golden crust
Sliced bread ready to enjoy
9. Store the rest of the dough in the fridge in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days. The flavour and texture improves, becoming like sourdough. Even 24 hours of storage improves the flavour.
This is the standard bread. There are loads of variations – both savory and sweet – in the book. I also have the Kindle version of their Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.
Making bread has never been easier. Forget all the fuss and bother of kneading and resting the dough for hours on end, which is how my mother used to make her homemade bread. She would have loved this recipe.