Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review: Artisan Bread in 5 Min a Day

artisan bread

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.

artisan bread

26 comments:

Stacey Snacks said...

I saw Claire made this bread the other day.
There is hope for me, the non bread baker.
Yours came out terrific!
I would like a hunk (of bread!) please.

Colloquial Cook said...

You managed the top crust really well! mine looks anaemic compared to yours.I need to look into this crust issue. Fabulous slashing pattern too. I wonder if it plays a role in the oven spring thing.

Jeff Hertzberg said...

I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I'm so glad our recipes are working well for you-- thanks for the great review. Come visit us anytime at http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com, where you can post questions into any "Comments" field, or click on "Bread Questions" on the left side of the homepage and choose among the options.

Jeff Hertzberg
www.artisanbreadinfive.com
http://twitter.com/ArtisanBreadIn5

Chicago tribune video: http://us.macmillan.com/BookCustomPage.aspx?isbn=9780312362911&m_type=2&m_contentid=119255#video

Sophie said...

I think that your bread looks very appetizing! I too make a lot of fresh bread!

Giff said...

Thanks all, and thanks for dropping by Jeff. Congrats on the success of your book. :) As noted, I'm a happy reader.

Peter M said...

Giff, thanks for your encouragement and inspiration. My oven is pre-heating as I write and I can't wait for the result!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I have all of 5 cookbooks, but I guess today's the cookbook day. I picked up a copy of one of Rick Bayless's books to expand my Mexican repertoire and I'm off the amazon to pick this one up.

Joie de vivre said...

Oh wow! I've never heard of this book or the blog. Thanks for introducing it to me!

Maria said...

Your bread looks amazing Giff! It's funny because I just finished baking the same bread as I was discussing the book earlier with Peter M. and decided to just go for it.
They look great, but I have yet to slice into them as they just came out of the oven 9I have to admit that yours look smuch better, however).

Daily Spud said...

Like that, I've seen several blog posts over the past while about that book and all of them very positive. It would certainly persuade me to take a trip over to amazon to order a copy!

Giff said...

lol@Marc, I have many more than 5 cookbooks -- should also add a Bayless.

Maria, I might be misinterpreting your comment, but I'll note that I didn't cut into the bread right away -- actually the book tells you not to, that it is better to let it cool and rest for a bit.

Zoë François said...

Hi Giff,

Thank you so much for trying out the bread. Your loaf looks gorgeous and crusty! I'm so glad you are enjoying the book.

Thank you too for the kind words about my website. I have so much fun with it. As you know it is such a wonderful way to meet other people who really love food. :)

Zoë

Helene said...

I made that bread and we love it. Looks really good.

raquel said...

I, too, was scared of baking umtil I picked up this book after reading about it at Jayden's Steamy Kitchen. And I have not stopped baking bread since! This book is awesome!! I have buckets of dough waiting in my refrigerator and my neighbors couldn't be happier (we are a two-person household so my baked goods are shared with neighbors!)

Giff said...

It is fun to see how many people have enjoyed this book -- must be changing bread making habits around the world :)

kat said...

Giff I'm so glad you liked the book. Your loaves look wonderful. We've been making a light wheat buttermilk bread lately, by mixing a couple of the recipes together, we cook it in a loaf pan for sandwiches. My dad loves this book & makes batches of the dough & freezes it in single loaf sizes so he can have all different varieties of to bake whenever.

Maria said...

Giff, how much dough did you use for that loaf pictured? I found that even though I made the full recipe, I seemed to get just three loaves 1 large-medium and 2 medium-small sized.
I, too, let the bread sit til pretty much cooled and my husband flipped when he had some with dinner last night. At first he didn't believe that I myself baked it!

Maria said...

-

Giff said...

Kat, light wheat buttermilk bread - sounds delicious. Might have to hit you up for specifics.

Maria, my experience is same as yours. I made one largish loaf (a big "grapefruit" ball of dough), one medium, and then finally a small baguette that was perfect for 4 of us at lunch. That's why I would double the recipe if I had more room!

Robin said...

This book completely changed my life! We've got a fresh loaf going every day. It's great.

matt wright said...

Blimey mate, GREAT looking bread! I think I might have to pick up that book.

bee said...

that's a gorgeous loaf. i wonder if the recipes in the book would be adaptable for wholegrain loafs.

Joie de vivre said...

I bought this today based on your review! I can't wait to try one out.

Zen Chef said...

Oh my! Am i the only one who does not have this book? Judging on the reviews everywhere i'm missing out on something. The loaf looks fantastic Giff. Claire made a pizza from the same master dough the other night and it was awesome. I better get a copy.

Ricardo said...

Absolutly lovely country bread, looks crisp cooked just right I could eat half of it right now, with a little chorizo...hehe thx

Kathleen said...

Wow, your bread looks fantastic! Congratulations on a brilliant loaf! I've thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with these recipes and do recommend the book.