Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, came out about a year ago and positive reviews have been percolating around the blogosphere for some time. Recently, I decided to pick up the book and try my hand.
First of all, other than making pate brisee for savory pastry dishes, I have historically not enjoyed baking at all. I’m a cook rather than a baker (Lisl usually does all the baking in our household). So with that context, I’ll come out and say that I am really happy with this book. The process is extremely easy and the results delicious.
We have tried making bread purely in a breadmaker, doing a combo breadmaker-oven approach, the no-knead method Bittman wrote about long ago, and now this. This is my favorite method so far combining ease and flavor, and I look forward to exploring the Artisan book further.
The instructions are easy and clear (and make sure you read them!). You might also check out the corrections they have posted on their website. Two notes from authors: before you bake, let the dough (however you shape it) rest for at least 40 minutes (I did 40 minutes on the dot and results were great), and slash the top of the dough right before you put it in the oven.
I would be well into my third batch of dough if I hadn’t broken my baking stone by pouring water on it when it was really hot (the water was intended for the broiling pan on the rack below… fumble fingers!). I would actually mix up double the size of the basic recipe if I had more room in my fridge, but I don’t think I can squeeze bigger than a 5.5 quart bowl in there.
Lastly, I’ll note that one of the authors, Zoe Francois, has a great blog at Zoe Bakes and there is an official book blog here. Watching Zoe interact on Twitter was the clincher in my deciding to get the book (not that reviews haven’t been great but, again, I usually don’t bake). It is wonderful to see people who want to be part of the community, rather than just pitch something at the community. An increasing amount of the latter exists on Twitter (and all social media really), and I have no time or interest in such behavior. So I tip my hat to you Zoe, and thank you and Jeff for creating such a wonderful book.
Update P.S. as I was writing this, Peter over at Kalofagas was trying out this book as well and twittering his progress. He sounded as positive as I am.