I stumbled upon something wonderful: the ease and deliciousness and purity of my own homemade bread. I thought making bread would be complicated and time consuming, a treat I’d only pursue when I really had time to delve into things. I was happily buying $6 loaves of bread from the local artisan bakery. But as an avid baker and self-professed lover of bread, I started researching artisan bread baking recipes. I came across the 5-Minute Artisan Bread Recipe on Leite’s Culinaria website. They based their instructions off of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François’ Master Loaf recipe in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
I followed their instructions step by step and made a beautiful loaf that was consumed in its majority that same night. I was so convinced that things had gone well that I baked the remaining portion of the dough for my neighbor as a thank you for watching my cat and he declared that it was the best bread he had ever eaten.
I was sold. I immediately snatched up my own copy of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and eagerly read its wondrous chapters on baking techniques and flour proteins.
I’ve made this Master Loaf recipe at least 6 times, which has yielded at least 18 generous loaves of bread, all of which have been a great success. This recipe suits my Simple 5 Food Experiment perfectly, for it only calls for these four ingredients: Water, Yeast, Salt, Flour. I use the bread for breakfast toast and jam, my lunchtime sandwiches, as an accompaniment to my soups. I even use it for my favorite dish, the McCragin Breakfast Sandwich.
If you are a novice in the baking world or a newbie to making bread, I would absolutely recommend starting here. The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity. The idea is that you make a huge batch of dough and only cook a portion of it at one time. The rest of the dough sits in your fridge in a covered (but not sealed) bowl or bucket for up to two weeks. Then when you want to make another batch of bread, you simply pull another pound of the dough out of the fridge, and with minimal preparation and rest time, you bake it.
It’s the chillest recipe for baking that I’ve ever seen. Jeff and Zoë give all sorts of tips in their book. Throughout the recipe, they reassure you that if you don’t do things quite perfectly, it’s all going to be fine. That’s my kind of cooking!
Details of the Bread Recipe
I would recommend following the recipe on Leite’s Culinaria. They detail it out really beautifully, and if you find that you love it, please know that I wholeheartedly recommend the cookbook. It’s full of easy recipes, interesting international recipes, helpful tips, and beautiful photos. (And no, I’m not getting any sort of kickbacks for recommending this.)
Tools you will need:
- One large mixing bowl or container with a loose fitting lid or plastic wrap
- Measuring cups for dry and liquid (tablespoon, cups)
- Wooden spoon to mix ingredients
- Baking stone or a baking sheet
- Pizza peel or cutting board or plate to shape and rest your loaf
- Metal Broiler tray (or some sort of metal tray that can hold a cup’s worth of water)
- Serrated knife
Ingredients you will need:
- Water (3 cups*, plus more for the broiler)
- Yeast (1 tablespoon active dry)
- Salt (1 and a half tablespoons)
- **All-purpose or Bread Flour (6 and 1/2 cups, so a 2 pound bag of flour is sufficient)
What I’d recommend:
- **I use King Arthur’s Unbleached Bread Flour. I have used all purpose flour to bake the bread, and it’s good — but I prefer the doughy taste of bread flour because it has more gluten in it.
- *Thanks to the cookbook’s tools and tips sections, I learned that I needed to add an additional with 1/3 cup extra water in the initial mix of the ingredients because King Arthur’s brand has a higher protein percentage, and I need an extra 1/4 cup of water because I’m specifically using bread flour rather than all purpose flour.
- I use all purpose flour to coat my bread when it’s shaped and resting.
- One time my friend used sea salt instead of the Morton’s fine salt that I use and it did not turn out super tasty. I read later that artisan sea salts sometimes lose their flavor when they are baked at high temperatures.
- For the quickest rise time, you have to use hot water, but not too hot or it will kill the yeast. Some people might get nervous about this, but in this instance, the authors wisely note that domestic sinks are not allowed to go above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you let your tap water run as hot as it can go you’re safe.
- When you’re preheating the oven, put your baking stone in there and your empty broiler tray. I didn’t understand that at first, but you want the empty tray to get really hot so that when you pour hot water in it, it releases steam around your bread.
- The cookbook indicates that you can rock your bread dough back and forth and get it to plop neatly onto your baking stone in the oven. I’ve never been able to get this to work, so I use a spatula and lift my dough onto the baking stone.
Perks and ease of following this recipe:
- A few minutes to put the dough together
- No kneading needed
- 2 hour rise time on your kitchen counter
- Store dough in fridge for up to 2 weeks
- Under an hour of rest time for the shaped loaf
- Bake for 30-35 minutes (32-33 minutes is my perfection, but this might vary depending on dough size and your oven)
- Yields 3-4 one pound loaves of dough
What are you waiting for? Get cooking, and enjoy this wonderful bread!
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