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(Healthy or Artisan) Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Is anyone else addicted to making bread from these books?  :>

For those of you who haven't heard of them yet, both books use a no-knead method of breadmaking that utilizes a very wet dough.  You mix up the dough in big batches and pull off a chunk when you want to bake bread.  The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.  One batch generally lasts us about a week, with a fresh loaf about every other day.  On the "5 minutes a day" issue - this isn't really an exaggeration.  It doesn't include rising, resting and baking time, but it really only takes about 5 minutes to mix up the dough, then about a minute to shape each loaf if you're doing a basic round or oval-shaped loaf.  Not only is the bread fresh and homemade, it is totally delicious and very economical too.

We only have the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book, but we'll probably get the artisan one soon too.  My husband really enjoys baking, and was skeptical of the method at first, but this really is as good or better than any bakery bread we've ever had.  The "healthy" part means that the recipes are mostly whole grain, and there are some fancy recipes that have fruit or vegetables mixed in (we haven't ventured into those recipes yet, we are still enjoying the basics).  So far we have made the whole grain master recipe, rye, 100% whole wheat with flax, and the white master recipe.  Every loaf has turned out fantastic! 

The only cons I've found so far are that there is a little bit of a learning curve to working with the sticky dough (it's ok if you aren't too fussy about appearances), and you really do need a large container for making the whole recipe - the dough rose just over the rim of my biggest bowl, 5 quarts, but thankfully collapsed a bit after refrigerating.

So, has anyone else tried either of the books?  What did you think?  What varieties have you tried?

For anyone who is interested, the authors have a blog: Artisan Bread blog - Click Recipes and you'll find some of the recipes that are in the books.

I have heard great things about the books.  The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is the one I am most interested in. 

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I want to get this book....does the bread have to be made on a pizza stone, or do you think a ceramic slow-cooker pot would suffice? I don't have a dutch oven either and want to try one of their recipes before I buy it.

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You don't need any special equipment - we just bake ours on parchment paper on a regular cookie sheet, then transfer directly to the oven rack for the last 10 minutes to let the bottom crust get crisp.  We might eventually get a pizza stone..I'm not sure.  For now the cookie sheet method is working well.  You can use a silicone baking mat instead of parchment, or just grease the pan well since the wet dough can stick even on a non-stick pan.  We bought a perforated baguette pan, which works great even for the bottom crust since the bottom is so open.

If you don't care about a crispy crust, you don't need to use the steam and the high temperature.  For example, for sandwich bread you might want a softer crust - just bake in a regular loaf pan for a bit longer - 40-50 minutes, I think, at 350 degrees.  About 1.5-2 pounds of dough (about 1/3-1/2 the recipe) will be about right for a standard loaf pan.  The bread is delicious this way as well.  A 1 pound loaf is best in a mini loaf pan, but if you don't mind a shallow loaf a regular pan works too.

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thanks for the info VEGRUNSKI I will have to try a few, I have a feeling I'm going to order this book soon!

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Thanks for mentioning these book.  I have the healthy one coming coming on loan from another library.  I can't wait to get it.  I love baking bread and am trying to abandon white flour completely now. 

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These books are both great! I've made lots and lots of loaves from their first book. All have surpassed my expectations and I've been baking bread for many years. I don't own their second book, the one using more whole grains, but did borrow it from the library and loved the look of most of the recipes. Tried some and they worked out just as well as those from the first book.

For those of you new to this method of making bread, the first book has very detailed but easy to follow instructions on each part of the process. It's really quite simple, but they discuss just about anything you might be wondering about. Subsequent recipes don't go into all the nitty-gritty detail, but do give you enough information to proceed confidently. There really is no easier way to make great bread.

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Whoa, I definitely want to try this. Thanks for the info!!

eta: ok, some very unvegan recipes... I won't buy the book but I'll try the basic bread recipe they give.

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Algae - which book do you mean?  I was paging through the "Healthy bread" book today, and it seems almost everything is lacto-ovo, barring a pizza recipe with chicken on it, but the breads themselves don't have anything meaty in them from what I could tell.  I know they do mention having breadsticks wrapped in prosciutto or something at one point, though.  :P

Many (possibly most) of the recipes are vegan to start with, but I'm curious if the brioche recipes can be veganized - I'm a lacto-ovo, but I'm leaning vegan these days and we don't often have eggs around anyway.  4 eggs is kind of a lot!

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