Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day - Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois

I have a pretty good incentive to start baking my own bread. It's just been reported that one of the big supermarket chains, Coles, has been implying that their Irish soda bread was fresh baked, when it was actually imported from Ireland. I don't normally buy much from Coles or Woolworths, because I don't like or trust them anyway, but its as good a reason as any to bake my own fresh bread! Bakery bread is awesome but it does get expensive if you're buying it all the time!

I bought this book a couple of years ago but never got into it for one reason or another. However now that I'm on school holidays I have the time to have a go! Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois has, through years of trials and testing, broken down the steps necessary to bake great bread. The idea is that you make one master batch of dough and keep it in the fridge, then take out a grapefruit sized ball of dough, shape it, rest it and bake it. I was skeptical about it really being THAT easy.

It is.

The dough is awesome, and contains only yeast, flour, salt and water. Its elastic and I used yeast that was past its use by date, so I added an extra sachet to be sure. That thing rose like a champion, it was coming out of the mixing bowl!

It's recommended that you refrigerate the dough overnight before your first loaf, but I was impatient and baked one last night. It came out well, but didn't rise loads - I also realised I had the oven on too low, so that wouldn't have helped!

I left the dough in the fridge overnight, and then baked a small loaf this morning, this time following the instructions exactly and got a MUCH better looking loaf! It rose a lot in the oven which was great!

The dough is meant to take on sourdough qualities the longer it stays in the fridge, and its said to last 14 days. When you take the dough out of the fridge it is tough yet elastic, it's a bit sticky but managable. I have a metal spoon next to it in the fridge to scoop out the dough, it's quite cool how it stretches, and it feels like great dough. I felt like I knew what I was doing!

The book has a variety of recipes, variations and really helpful advice and explanations on just about anything you can think of, as well as recipes for different flours.

I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into this book, because so far it's been really manageable to have a great loaf of bread, every day! I don't think we'd have time to bake it before work, because of the resting/cooking time, but you'd def have fresh bread at night, ready for the next day. The dough is so easy to make and so low maintenance, and then grabbing the dough from the fridge and shaping it is really easy too.

Given that Saturday is Bastille Day (July 14th), I'm going to make some baguettes! Stay tuned to see how they turn out!


  1. Your bread looks awesome definately has the sourdough look to it. I tried making sourdough a few times, I went to a 'wild sourdough' class here in Perth and it was great but I found I needed 3 days to make the bread and even then it wasnt ready until midnight! Iv just been given a bread maker and have used it 3 times this week it is fantastic. I use organic flour etc and think its pretty healthy. I hope to not have to buy supermarket bread for a long time - your right it is not good for us and who knows how old it really is or whats in it!

    1. Thanks Michelle! It does look great, and it's so easy, and I'm a total dough retard. It does need some work, in that it is quite plain tasting, but looking forward to seeing how the dough tastes on the weekend, as its meant to take on sourdough qualities the longer its kept! I'm also keen to try it with different flours - I have some rye flour that I'd like to use, as the white flour isn't great for you if you eat too much of it, and rye keeps you fuller for longer!