Bake Bread, Save Dough: Basics for 5-Minutes-a-Day Bread Bakers

You may recall a column from a few weeks ago on baking bread—specifically, artisan bread in five minutes a day! It’s true. I do. And given the number of messages, comments and questions I received in response to that column, I’m excited to know that so many of my readers want to do that, too!

Rather than address each of your questions individually, I’ve taken the liberty to compile and edit them down to this manageable few:

Q: Can I get started with just the Master Recipe or do I really need the book?

The creators, Jeff and Zoe, have kindly made the Master Recipe plus step-by-step instructions with photos available at their website (click HERE), so the answer is no, you do not need the book to get started. But you’ll want it eventually. Hint: It would make a great Christmas gift.

Q: Is the Master Recipe gluten-free? 

No it is not. However, Jeff and Zoe have written a subsequent book,  Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Baking Revolution Continues, with 90 delicious and easy recipes made with gluten-free flours. It’s a gorgeous book, inside and out.

Q: Can I freeze the dough?

Yes, you can. Just wrap it very well or seal it in airtight containers, anytime after the initial rise. Defrost overnight in the fridge when ready to use, then shape, rest, and bake as usual. Great idea too, especially with the holidays now coming into clear view ahead

Q: What tools and equipment do I need to get started?

You might be able to get started with what you have already. However, I know from experience that you’ll give yourself the best chance for immediate success (which means you won’t give up after one try) when you have the right equipment. Here are the basic essential tools:

Dough-Rising Bucket with Lid. A must-have to make artisan bread using this unique method is a dough-rising bucket with lid. Any large container that will fit in your refrigerator, that also has a lid, will do. This particular one is ideal because it is square to make better use of space in a refrigerator, which for me is limited. The bucket and and lid are separate items. Don’t forget the lid! Bucket about $13. Lid about $8.

Oven Thermometer. One of the secrets of making fabulous artisan bread is oven temperature. It must be precise! But don’t worry. Even if your oven is not well-calibrated, the only thing necessary to fix that is a good oven thermometer. The book explains and instructs on this. This is a great, reliable and easy-to-use thermometer. About $7.

Pizza Peel. It looks like a big flat wooden paddle and yes it is most often used in making homemade pizza. It is an essential item for making artisan bread. While pizza peels come in metal and also wood, I much prefer this wood peel for the artisan bread process. I find that my dough sticks to metal. This peel is ideal. About $14.

Baking Stone. Another must-have is a good quality, large baking stone. Unsealed quarry tiles will do the trick, but getting the right size with tiles can be challenging. A much better option is a commercial baking stone like this one. For any home baker, consider this an investment in your craft. About $50.

The Book. The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I might as well be the president of the 5 Minute Bread Fan Club for how this book (and all of Jeff and Zoe’s books) have changed my life! About $12.

That’s it! All you need to know to start baking wonderful, high-quality, delicious artisan bread. And it’s not going to cost you four to six bucks a loaf, either. Jeff and Zoe have taught me how to do it for fifty-cents. They want to teach you, too.

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  • Pat Langer (JoyintheJourney)

    Mary,
    I just wanted to comment that I had been making the artesian bread for a while, We had gotten busy and stopped making it, and you’re recent column prompted me to pull out my supplies and make it again. It was a huge hit and I don’t think we will stop this time. It is so nice to be able to make fresh bread daily! Thank you for the reminder!

    • Awesome, Pat. It’s an easy habit to pick up, isn’t it? What I love the most is that our bread is always fresh. And oh, that aroma!

  • Mary Boyden

    Mary, the bread looks amazing, however, I am allergic to yeast, do you know of anything similar that doesn’t use yeast? I usually make biscuits when I am really craving bread but am always looking for new yeast free recipes. Thanks for all you do for us, keeping us on track with your tips!

    Mary Boyden, PA

  • Ann L

    I made this bread for while, quit for a while and you prompted me to start again. I have a few money saving tips. I used one of those plastic boxes that you get lettuce or spinach in, punched a hole in the top and it fits nicely on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator. I mix, proof and store in it. I didn’t want to spend $50 on a baking stone so I use my cast-iron skillet. If I want a double size loaf, I use a loaf pan to make it rise higher and just sit it in the pre-heated skillet. I don’t understand why a pizza peel is “essential”. I just used parchment paper. Only problem, homemade yeast bread tastes too good. I eat it too much.

    • Kimberley Hunter

      I don’t use the same method as Mary, but I do bake my own bread, and I agree. Homemade yeast breads seem to make simple meals better, too. Grilled cheese sandwiches are better, peanut butter on toast is better, beans with a slice of toasted homemade yeast bread is better. Plus, when the bread is baking, your kitchen smells wonderful.