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2 Home & Garden Cooking and Food- Breads

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

by and

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking Cover

ISBN13: 9780312362911
ISBN10: 0312362919
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Excerpt

1

INTRODUCTION

The Secret to Making Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Refrigerating Pre-Mixed Homemade Dough

Like most kids, my brother and I loved sweets, so dessert was our favorite time of day. Wed sit in the kitchen, devouring frosted supermarket doughnuts.

"Those are too sweet," my grandmother would say. "Me, Id rather have a piece of good rye bread, with cheese on it."

Munch, munch, munch. Our mouths were full; we could not respond.

"Its better than cake," shed say.

Theres a certain solidarity among kids gorging on sweets, but secretly, I knew she was right. I could finish half a loaf of very fresh, very crisp rye bread by myself, with or without butter (unlike my grandmother, I considered cheese to be a distraction from perfect rye bread). The right stuff came from a little bakery on Horace Harding Boulevard in Queens. The shop itself was nondescript, but the breads were Eastern European masterpieces. The crust of the rye bread was crisp, thin, and caramelized brown. The interior crumb was moist and dense, chewy but never gummy, and bursting with tangy yeast, rye, and wheat flavors. It made great toast, too—and yes, it was better than cake.

The handmade bread was available all over New York City, and it wasnt a rarefied delicacy. Everyone knew what it was and took it for granted. It was not a stylish addition to affluent lifestyles; it was a simple comfort food brought here by modest immigrants.

I left New York in the late 1980s, and assumed that the corner bread shops would always be there, waiting for me, whenever I came back to visit. But I was wrong. As people lost interest in making a second stop after the supermarket just for bread, the shops gradually faded away. By 1990, the ubiquitous corner shops turning out great eastern, central, and southern European breads with crackling crusts were no longer so ubiquitous.

Great European breads, handmade by artisans, were still available, but theyd become part of the serious (and seriously expensive) food phenomenon that had swept the country. The bread bakery was no longer on every corner—now it was a destination. And nobodys grandmother would ever have paid six dollars for a loaf of bread.

Id fly back to New York and wander the streets, bereft (well, not really). "My shop" on Horace Harding Boulevard had changed hands several times by 1990, and the bread, being made only once a day, was dry and didnt really have a lot of flavor. I even became convinced that we could get better bagels in Minneapolis—and from a chain store. Things were that grim.

So Zoë and I decided to do something about it. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is our attempt to help people re-create the great ethnic breads of years past, in their own homes, without investing serious time in the process. Using our straightforward, fast, and easy recipes, anyone will be able to create artisan bread and pastry at home with minimal equipment. Our first problem was: Who has time to make bread every day?

After years of experimentation, it turns out that we do, and with a method as fast as ours, you can, too. We solved the time problem and produced top-quality artisan loaves without a bread machine. We worked out the master recipes during busy years of career transition and starting families (our kids now delight in the pleasures of home-baked bread). Our lightning-fast method lets us find the time to bake great bread every day. We developed this method to recapture the daily artisan bread experience without further crunching our limited time—and it works!

Traditional breads need a lot of attention, especially if you want to use a "starter" for that natural, tangy taste. Starters need to be cared for, with water and flour replenished from time to time. Dough needs to be kneaded until resilient, set to rise, punched down, allowed to rise again. There are boards and pans and utensils galore to be washed, some of which cant go into the dishwasher. Very few busy people can go through this every day, if ever. Even if your friends are all food fanatics, when was the last time you had homemade bread at a dinner party?

What about bread machines? The machines solve the time problem and turn out uniformly decent loaves, but unfortunately, the crust is soft and dull-flavored, and without tangy flavor in the crumb (unless you use and maintain time-consuming sourdough starter).

So we went to work. Over years, we found how to subtract the various steps that make the classic technique so time-consuming, and identified a few that couldnt be omitted.

And then, Zoë worked some pastry-chef magic: She figured out that we could use stored dough for desserts as well as for bread, applying the same ideas to sweet breads, rolls, and morning breads. It all came down to one fortuitous discovery:

Pre-mixed, pre-risen, high-moisture dough keeps well in the refrigerator.

This is the linchpin of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. By pre-mixing high-moisture dough (without kneading) and then storing it, daily bread baking becomes an easy activity; the only steps you do every day are shaping and baking. Other books have considered refrigerating dough, but only for a few days. Still others have omitted the kneading step, but none has tested the capacity of wet dough to be long-lived in your refrigerator. As our high-moisture dough ages, it takes on sourdough notes, reminiscent of the great European natural starters. When dough is mixed with adequate water (this dough is wetter than most you may have worked with), it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (enriched or heavy doughs cant go that long but can be frozen instead). And kneading this kind of dough adds little to the overall product; you just dont have to do it. In fact, overhandling stored dough can limit the volume and rise that you get with our method. That, in a nutshell, is how you make artisan breads with the investment of only five minutes a day of active effort.

A one-or two-week supply of dough is made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Measuring and mixing the dough takes less than 15 minutes. Kneading, as weve said, is not necessary. Every day cut off a hunk of dough from the storage container and briefly shape it without kneading. Allow it to rest briefly on the counter and then toss it in the oven. We dont count the rest time (20 minutes or more depending on the recipe) or baking time (usually about 30 minutes) in our five-minute-a-day calculation since you can be doing something else while thats happening. If you bake after dinner, the bread will stay fresh for use the next day (higher-moisture breads stay fresh longer), but the method is so convenient that you probably will find you can cut off some dough and bake a loaf every morning, before your day starts. If you want to have one thing you do every day that is simply perfect, this is it!

Wetter is better:The wetter dough, as youll see, is fairly slack, and offers less resistance to yeasts expanding carbon dioxide bubbles. So, despite not being replenished with fresh flour and water like a proper sourdough starter, there is still adequate rise on the counter and in the oven.

Using high-moisture, pre-mixed, pre-risen dough makes most of the difficult, time-consuming, and demanding steps in traditional bread baking completely superfluous:

1. You dont need to make fresh dough every day to have fresh bread every day: Stored dough makes wonderful fresh loaves. Only the shaping and baking steps are done daily, the rest has been done in advance.

2. You dont need a "sponge" or "starter": Traditional sourdough recipes require that you keep flour-water mixtures bubbling along in your refrigerator, with careful attention and replenishment. By storing the dough over two weeks, a subtle sourdough character gradually develops in our breads without needing to maintain sponges or starters in the refrigerator. With our dough-storage approach, your first loaf is not exactly the same as the last. It will become more complex in flavor as the dough ages.

3. It doesnt matter how you mix the dry and wet ingredients together: So long as the mixture is uniform, without any dry lumps of flour, it makes no difference whether you use a spoon, a high-capacity food processor, or a heavy-duty stand mixer. Choose based on your own convenience.

What We Dont Have to Do: Steps from Traditional Artisan Baking That We Omitted

1. Mix a new batch of dough every time we want to make bread

2. "Proof" yeast

3. Knead dough

4. Cover formed loaves

5. Rest and rise the loaves in a draft-free location—it doesnt matter!

6. Fuss over doubling or tripling of dough volume

7. Punch down and re-rise

8. Poke rising loaves to be sure theyve "proofed" by leaving indentations

Now you know why it only takes 5 minutes a day, not including resting and baking time.

4. You dont need to "proof" yeast: Traditional recipes specify that yeast be dissolved in water (often with a little sugar) and allowed to sit for five minutes to prove that bubbles can form and the yeast is alive. But modern yeast simply doesnt fail if used before its expiration date and the baker remembers to use lukewarm, not hot water. The high-water content in our doughs further ensures that the yeast will fully hydrate and activate without a proofing step. Further storage gives it plenty of time to fully ferment the dough—our approach doesnt need the head start.

5. It isnt kneaded: The dough can be mixed and stored in the same resealable plastic container. No wooden board is required. There should be only one vessel to wash, plus a spoon (or a mixer). Youll never tell the difference between breads made with kneaded and unkneaded high-moisture dough, so long as you mix to a basically uniform consistency. In our method, a very quick "cloaking and shaping" step substitutes for kneading (see Chapter 5, Step 5, page 28).

Start a morning batch before work, bake the first loaf before dinner: Heres a convenient way to get fresh bread on the table for dinner. Mix up a full batch of dough before breakfast and store it in the refrigerator. The lukewarm water you used to mix the dough will provide enough heat to allow the yeast to do its thing over the eight hours till youre home. When you walk in the door, cloak and shape the loaf and give it a quick rest, then bake as usual. Small loaves, and especially flatbreads, can be on the table in 40 minutes or less.

6. High-moisture stored dough cant over-rise accidentally:Remember that youre storing it long-term anyway. Youll see a brisk initial rise at room temperature over two hours; then the risen dough is refrigerated for use over the next week or two. But rising longer wont be harmful; theres lots of leeway in the initial rise time.

Given these simple principles, anyone can make artisan bread at home. Well talk about what youll need in Chapters 2 (Ingredients) and 3 (Equipment). You dont need a professional bakers kitchen. In Chapter 4, youll learn the tips and techniques that weve taken years to accumulate. Then, in Chapter 5, well lay out the basics of our method, applying them to ordinary white dough and several delicious bread variations. Chapter 5s master recipe is the model for the rest of our recipes. We suggest you read it first and bake some of its breads before trying anything else. You wont regret it.

Excerpted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.

Copyright 2007 by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.

Published in November 2007 by St. Martins Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

Brenda J, August 9, 2010 (view all comments by Brenda J)
I'm a foodie. I hang out online with other foodies. I cannot TELL you how many rave reviews of the recipes from Artison BREAD in FIVE Minutes a Day I have received (via email or forums/blogs)from these people. (They even send me PHOTOS of the breads they have made from this book.) SO, I bought it. My husband got hold of it. He's never baked a loaf of bread in his LIFE! Next thing I know (it's only been in our house 1 day) he's baking! I witnessed everything. He made all the first recipes in the book within the next several weeks. We both learned so much! It's kind of amazing--we were quite in awe--whipping out different shaped loaves with such ease (and so little cleanup).

See: You make a batch (in a bowl or in a mixer)...put it in the fridge...and then pull out bread to bake all week!!!!! AND, there are lots and lots of varieties and shapes of breads included. One gal friend of mine (her main interest is bread) has just about made them ALL the recipes in the book (and many times). She does get hung up making certain ones more than others because she has found a couple of them that she craves...and her husband LOVES bread. (Also, she likes to order seeds from King Arthur and sprinkle them on top of some of the kinds--and she likes to play with shapes..braids and things like that.)

If you read from page 1 you will see how AT EASE the authors make you feel. Water temp doesn't matter that much; nor does the type of yeast you use (as I recall). OH and the authors have a website...and they stay involved. If they have made any changes to the recipes, they put those changes up at their site; I've also seen them turn up at forums to help people who are asking questions about the technique or the book.

My favorite loaves so far have been the rye. Do a bit of searching around on the web and you, too, will see lots of rave chat and comments about this book. This is one cookbook I am EXTREMELY glad I purchased. (They have since come out with book 2, devoted to only 'healthy' breads in 5 minutes a day. We are purchasing that one for sure, too!) When you have these books there isn't much sense in buying breads...and oh, I've given some of our loaves as gifts. People LOVE receiving fresh bread!!
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Hubert, December 2, 2009 (view all comments by Hubert)
It just works - great bread, with minimal effort, and the results are great. I live a mile high, and the recipes work without the altitude adjustments. Besides the simplicity also the variations in the book are a recommendation, they inspire to try your own (focaccia with the herbs and onions in the dough for example).
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(10 of 17 readers found this comment helpful)
Deborah Fochler, March 22, 2009 (view all comments by Deborah Fochler)
About ten years go I got a bread machine for Christmas, we used it a few times. Since then it has been in a closet collecting dust. A friend gave me this book. The recipes and directions are easy to follow even if you dont have a bread machine. I made the Caramel Pecan Rolls for my book club and everyone raved about them. The only problem was I didnt make enough because we ran out. Everyone loves fresh bread and rolls and this book makes the process easy for even the most basic cook. A wonderful cookbook for all.
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(31 of 43 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780312362911
Subtitle:
The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
Author:
Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
Photographer:
Luinenburg, Mark
Author:
FranCois, Zoe
Author:
Hertzberg, Jeff
Author:
Hertzberg, Jeff , MD
Publisher:
Thomas Dunne Books
Subject:
Baking
Subject:
Methods - Baking
Subject:
Bread
Subject:
Courses & Dishes - Bread
Subject:
Cooking and Food-Breads
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series Volume:
The Discovery That R
Publication Date:
20071131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.13 x 7.50 in

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Business » General
Cooking and Food » Baking » Breads
Cooking and Food » Baking » General
Cooking and Food » General

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking Used Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Thomas Dunne Books - English 9780312362911 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I'm super impatient when it comes to cooking and need something simple to make. Not only was this cookbook easy to use but it produced some very delicious results. I'm constantly looking through it as a reminder for the recipes I use frequently.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "While the phrase 'artisan bread' typically evokes images of labor-intensive sessions and top-notch ingredients, for authors Hertzberg and Franois it means five minutes. An intriguing concept — high-quality, fresh bread in less time than it takes to boil water. The authors' promises of no kneading, no starter, no proofing yeast and no need for a bread machine is based on the concept of mixed and risen high-moisture dough stored in the fridge for up to two weeks (dough is cut into pieces and popped in the oven for fresh loaves as desired). Note: for those tracking minutes, the five-minutes doesn't include the 20-minute resting time for dough or 30 minutes for baking. After concise, introductory chapters on ingredients, equipment, and tips and techniques, readers are presented with the master recipe, a free-form loaf of French boule that is the model for all breads in the book. Three main chapters — 'Peasant Loaves,' 'Flatbreads and Pizzas' and 'Enriched Breads and Pastries' — are filled with tempting selections and focus on ethnic breads and pastries including Couronne from France; Limpa from Scandinavia; Ksara from Morocco; Broa from Portugal; and Chocolate-Raisin Babka from the Ukraine, but the basics (Oatmeal Bread, Bagels, White Bread) are all here, too. A smattering of companion recipes such as Tuscan White Bean Dip and Portuguese Fish Stew are peppered throughout. While experienced bakers and true gourmands will skip this one, those looking for an innovative approach to making bread just might find it in these recipes." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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