Fifteen years ago, I became a bread maker. I read a book, gave it a try and found immediate success. I can’t really take much credit for this thing I love so much—turning out amazing loaves of bread on a whim. I owe any success I have achieved to Jeff and Zoë —creators and authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
It’s not like I’d never tried baking bread in the past. I thought I knew how to bake bread. The only problem was that my results were anything but successful. And it took way too much time—like all day! And all of that changed for me thanks to that book.
The routine …
About once a week I dump basic ingredients into a big plastic container that has a lid, and fits nicely into my refrigerator. I stir it up, set the lid in place and walk away (Hold on, I’ll give you the recipe details in a bit). That takes 15 minutes at the most. Two hours later (or when I remember), I set the container in the refrigerator. Done.
Whenever I want a loaf of bread (like every morning), I reach into the container, pull off a wad of dough, shape it, let it rest while I take a shower, then pop it into a hot oven.
In about 25 minutes, there it is—a beautiful, rustic, amazing loaf of bread, the kind I would expect to see in the finest French bakery.
Five minutes a day
Truly, I spend no more than five minutes per day, overall, doing this. And the cost? Less than 50 cents a loaf. Have you priced good bread in the supermarket lately? I’m seeing $4 to $5 and more per loaf!
Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François are quite a team. Jeff is a physician, scientist, and aspiring baker. Zoë is a pastry chef and baker who trained at the Culinary Institute of America. They met at their kids’ music class. Together, they have created and developed a fabulous no-knead way to make awesome bread, and now run the Bread-in-5 empire, boasting of what I’m guessing to be millions of followers.
Gets even better
Imagine my surprise when I opened my mail to find the NEW Edition of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Huh? How could they improve on perfection? Now I’m not saying I wasn’t thrilled to get a new and expanded edition of this amazing book. My old one is getting overly tattered, splattered, and worn. Still, it prompted a few questions:
Me: Why a new edition of Bread-in-5?
J&Z: When we released our first book in 2007, we didn’t have our website and blog in place (BreadIn5.com). So we wrote that book without the benefit for input from our readers (OK, they didn’t exist yet…). Over the years, readers have asked us for new material, and told us about all the ways that things could be even easier.
Me: What have you learned since the original in edition (2007?) that those of us who’ve used that book all these years should know? Are these changes now reflected in the new edition?
J&Z: One of the most important things we learned was that most home bakers love the visual cues you get from cookbooks that have lots of color photos. Our website is loaded with photos and video (click here for the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes master recipe). So we lobbied our publisher for more of those—and they came through, with 40 gorgeous new color photos, and over 100 black-and-white.
Our first book had just 8 color shots, and 20 black-and-white. There are about thirty brand-new recipes, including beer-cheese bread, crock-pot bread, panini, pretzel buns, and more in the updated edition.
Our readers expressed preferences, like lower salt versions, more whole grain options, and even some gluten-free recipes. And they wanted all of it to fit into their budgets–so the ingredients for our recipes cost about forty or fifty cents for a one-pound loaf (seventy cents for gluten-free).
Me: There’s a big move toward gluten-free in this country. Is it really possible to make gluten-free Bread-in-5?
J&Z: Absolutely. The recipe to try first is on our website (click to view Master Recipe). There are a few more ingredients, but the method is exactly the same—mix once, bake many, storing the extra dough in the fridge.
Me: How readily available are the unique ingredients for making the gluten-free master recipe? (specialty stores, online, regular supermarkets?)
J&Z: We only use ingredients that we can find in our local supermarket, though you can also get these flours online. Our book is Gluten-Free Bread in Five Minutes a Day should answer every question imaginable, in addition to specific instructions, color photos, and lots of recipes, too.
Me: Thanks guys, and please keep up the good work! Your books have become revolutionary for so many in my EC family as we are constantly looking for realistic ways to save time and money. Making our own bread at home—cheaper, better, and faster—does both. The difference between $4 and $.50 repeated over and over adds up to significant savings! And who doesn’t love fresh, hot, homemade bread?!
Here are links to both Master Recipes including detailed instructions and photo tutorials:
Bread in 5 Books by Jeff and Zoe
First published: 4-24-14; Revised & Updated 5-14-22
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