If you are looking for my review of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, you can check it out here: A Bread Library book review: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.
I made their master recipe, mostly because I was skeptical that it would really work out the way they said it would. Surely, with as much yeast as they include in the recipe, they would exhaust themselves before I got a chance to bake the dough, right? I wanted to see.
I also wanted to see if this was a good book for beginning bakers. And I couldn’t very well recommend it if the master recipe didn’t work, could I?
Sorry for all these rhetorical questions. Let’s get to it, shall we?
For three loaves (recipe says four, but I doubt that) you will need:
6 1/2 cups AP flour
3 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon saltMix the salt and yeast into the water in a large bowl. Then pour in all the flour.
I knew from reading the book that the dough is supposed to be wet. My dough was not wet, so I added another 1/2 cup of water. While I recognize that the book is trying to be accessible to beginners, it would’ve been nice to have the weights of the flour and water and baking percentages to get a sense of ‘how wet is wet enough.’
The recipe says to mix until the flour was fully incorporated, but then you’re done. No more kneading! Usually I let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes then reshape it into a ball, but the recipe doesn’t say to do that. So I left it for 2 hours as indicated. It was very difficult to resist the temptation to futz with the dough!
After two hours, the dough looked like this:
After that, you cover the dough and place it in the oven until you plan to bake. The next morning, the dough looked like this:
The second morning (two days after I mixed the dough) it looked like this:
On the day you plan to bake, set up a pizza stone and cast iron skillet thusly. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Flour a pizza paddle.
Pull off a piece of dough and fold it into a ball shape by pulling the sides underneath so the gluten strands form a “gluten cloak” around the dough. Brush the outside of the dough with flour and place it on the pizza paddle. Let sit for 45 minutes to an hour while the oven is preheating.
Put the rest of your dough back in the fridge if you plan to bake it another day.
After an hour, use a sharp bread knife or razor blade to score the top of the dough. The recipe suggests a cross pattern so that is what I did.
Place the dough from the pizza paddle onto the pizza stone, and pour a cup of hot water into the skillet. Bake the dough for 20-30 minutes until very golden brown.
The first loaf I did, I followed the recipe which seemed to say to only let the dough proof for 20 minutes before baking. This was clearly not enough time to take the chill off the dough, and it pretty much exploded in the oven. The holes were ok, but not great. The proofing period after being in the fridge for days needed more time.
My second loaf of dough was given an hour-long proof, and it turned out much better. It still exploded in the oven, but it wasn’t deformed.
You can also see the holes were slightly bigger and more distributed within the crumb.
I thought the recipe made a nice loaf of dough. My concern, which I mentioned in my book review as well, was that keeping enough dough for three loaves of bread for days and days takes a lot of space in the fridge! Maybe for some people that’s a small price to pay for convenience. It’s up to you. It’s nice to know if I do plan to make bread in the future, I shouldn’t be afraid to leave it in the fridge for days; the yeast won’t get exhausted and the flavor won’t suffer.
This book is very good for the beginning baker and I would recommend it.