Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cookbook Review: The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

I love the concept of "Bread in 5" -- you mix up a big batch of dough, stash it in the fridge, and then bake off portions over the next couple of weeks whenever you like.  It's not quite five minutes a day, but it certainly makes it possible to have fresh bread or pizza for dinner without coming home early from work (or buying the dough at the store, which is my usual lazy technique!).  I got a copy of the "healthy" version a few years ago from the library, but was never totally satisfied with the flavor and texture of the breads I made - I'm not sure if this was user error, but in any case I mentally put this in the category of "nice idea, but..."

Still, when I got an email asking if I wanted to review the The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the updated version of the original (i.e. non healthy) cookbook, I figured I would give this concept another try.  I've got to say, I'm now a convert - I'm not sure if it's just that the technique works better with 100% white flour, or whether I messed something up when I originally tried the whole wheat recipes, but either way the breads I made from this cookbook were fantastic!  My favorite part was just how many different things you could make with the master recipe -- which is just flour, yeast, salt, and water.  Over the course of about a week-and-a-half, I made ciabatta, three pizzas (one full-sized, and two mini lunch-sized), and naan, and they were all delicious.

Ciabatta with jam

Fair warning -- you're not going to get a perfectly authentic product.  Naan typically has yogurt or milk mixed into the dough, and my ciabatta definitely didn't have the big holes you see in the real thing, despite an extended rising time.  Still, there is zero chance that I would have mixed up three different batches of 'authentic' dough over the course of eight or nine days, and the results were super yummy.  I loved being able to bake fresh bread to go along with dinner, without feeling like I was spending the time to make an extra recipe in addition to my main dish.  Plus, the initial big batch of dough is super simple to put together - you don't have to pull out the stand mixer, and the rising time is very flexible.

Pizza topped with leftovers: BBQ sauce, roasted potatoes, bell pepper, sun-dried tomato chicken, herb goat cheese, pesto Jack, and scallions.

You can find the master recipe for this technique -- which is what I used to make all my breads this past week -- on the Bread in 5 website.  The cookbook provides some additional dough recipes (including whole grain, gluten free, and sweet doughs), as well as tons of different ways to shape and cook the bread.  I'm excited to try pita bread, crescent rolls, and pretzels next!


This book is perfect for: people who love fresh-baked bread but are short on time, people with a lot of fridge space (the bowl of dough takes up a fair amount of real estate), gluten-free bakers (there's a whole new chapter on gluten-free bread), and folks looking to save some money (the recipe is way cheaper than purchasing the same number of loaves/dough at the grocery or bakery).
Skip this one if: you'd rather spend more time to get the most authentic bread possible, you're on a diet (seriously - this stuff was delicious, but I ate a LOT of bread!).

Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this cookbook for review purposes.  All opinions and recipe-testing are my own.


  1. I recently found their blog and am going to try the slow cooker method on Thanksgiving.

    1. Oooh, I haven't tried that yet but I may have to give it a shot sometime soon - such a cool idea! :)

  2. I have the "healthy" version of this series and like it but don't love it...maybe the artisan version is really the way to go!

    1. Definitely my experience! The bread from the 'healthy' book was never inedible or anything, it just didn't inspire me to go back and make it all the time. Whereas this version definitely does! :)

  3. I've been meaning to check out this book. Thanks for the reminder! Love bread baking.