Must-Have Bread Book for New Bakers: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day

by Maris Callahan on May 5, 2009

There are few things better than freshly baked bread, be it wheat bread for sandwiches, biscuits to slather with butter at Thanksgiving dinner or a crispy baguette to dunk into soup at lunchtime.

Recently, Zoë Francois and Jeff Hertzberg published Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, a book that helps even the most novice home baker, create fresh bread in their own kitchen.

In the book, you’ll find a recipe for just about every type of bread you could want to make. Some are simple, some are more complicated but they’re all based on the principles of one master recipe. You can store the dough in container in your refrigerator for a week, cutting off individual pieces so that you can bake a loaf of bread anytime – with only five minutes of hands-on time per day.

Artisan Sourdough Boule

Once your batch of dough has been mixed and stored, each loaf will only cost about 5 minutes of active preparation time at once. Makes four 1-pound loaves


3 cups lukewarm water (about 100º F)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)
Cornmeal for the pizza peel


1. In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.

2. Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.

3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.

4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.

5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.

6. Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread
may not rise much during this time.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don’t have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.

8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.

9. Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.

10. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

Now, believe me, I’m no expert at baking bread overnight, but Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is a great starting point for new bakers or for seasoned chefs who want to learn a quick new method. The supplies that the authors suggest are optional, but helpful, and I’m definitely on the market now for a baking stone, a pizza peel and a bucket to store my dough.

Tell me about your favorite kind of bread! What’s your favorite way to eat bread? If you bake your own, I’d love to hear some of your favorite tips so I can hone my skills.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

elra May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

What a beautiful bread. Nothing like your own homemade bread.


Monica Shaw May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’ve heard great things about ABI5AD. I highly recommend a pizza stone and peel… really makes a difference and is relatively cheap.
Does this loaf actually have a “sour” taste? I’ve tried a similar loaf, and while it was tasty, it wasn’t exactly sour…
You remind me… I have some no knead dough rising in the hot water cupboard. Time to rescue it. =)


Leslie May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I really really really need to get this book..I have been saying it for months!


Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

Great review and that bread looks lovely! Must have a look for this book :D


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’ve been recommending this book to my readers for months; it makes having fresh bread so easy. And if you’re cooking dinner for a family after work every night, you really can have bread on the table in the time it takes to prepare the rest of the meal. I love that this method, and the no-knead bread, are really changing the way we think about bread — no longer an all day labor of love.


Matt May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

So- what is your favorite color?


Catherine May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I don’t make my own bread because, well, it takes too long. No more! Thanks for letting us know about the book.


beyond May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

my grandfather was a baker and smelling your bread through the computer screen makes me think of him…


kat May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

This is our favorite bread book of all time too. I make the buttermilk bread for our sandwiches adding flax seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ oat bran its wonderful


FatFighterTV May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

YUM – that looks so good! I can almost smell it, too. :)
I love to cook, but I don’t really bake. My favorite bread is really anything whole wheat and fresh.


Rachel May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I need to get this book! We love bakery bread. Our daughter won’t eat “sandwich bread”. The closest I’ve gotten to making homemade bread is the frozen dough that you let rise. I do make quick bread though. When we bought our home years ago Brian said he was going to make homemade bread every weekend. This hasn’t happened. Although he does make homemade pizza crusts. Maybe if I get this book, he would. Might be a nice Father’s day present. Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog. Have a great day!


lisa (dandysugar) May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

Love this, I really want this book. Your bread looks amazing!!


Bridgett May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

One of these days I will finally get this book. Nothing better than warm bread right out of the oven.


Amy May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

my husband is currently in charge of making all bread – we have a breadmaker, and that is pretty awesome, but I think I’ll be trying this out this weekend. I LOVE Bread.


Pearl May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

how cool! when i make bread, i’ll check back to yours for reference!


Blond Duck May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’ve got to try this now. I’ve done dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls and bread machine bread, but never free form.


Sara May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I haven’t made this one yet, but I just love the no-knead bread recipe.


Ashley May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I like french bread from the grocery store, and when I younger (or now, whatever), I used to pull off the crust and then roll it back into a dough-like form and eat it. So classy.


lisaiscooking May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I do keep seeing this book mentioned everywhere I look, and the bread always looks great. So does yours.


lisamichele May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’M A SOURDOUGH – ARTISAN BREAD JUNKIE! Before my injury, I was baking a bread or two a week with my year and a half old starter I dubbed, I think it’s amazing that you can whip up artisan breads in 5 minutes a day, and yours looks perfect!~ I’m going to have to check out her book one day, when I finish paying off my credit card from X-Mas! lol


ksgoodeats May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’m so glad I got over my fear of working with yeast because homemade bread = divine! I’m going to have to test this out!!


Janel May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I read this book, but tucked it away on my shelf. Now that I’ve seen your post, I need to get it out and start baking!


annie May 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

I don’t make homemade bread nearly enough. I have a bread maker that was handed down to me, but somehow I don’t use it too often either.
I’m like you when it comes to deciding on a favorite anything… I love so many different things it hard to come up with one, especially bread!


Susan May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

I always comment on your cooking but never your photos – they are always amazing.


Erin May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

That looks divine! As a kid I ate a LOT of bread. I was also incredibly skinny, so I don’t know how I got away with it. I once at the entire bread basket at dinner on a cruise. I love bread anyway I can have it. With cold butter, dipped in olive oil spices, toasted with jam, as a kid I would even sometimes take soft sandwich bread, tear it into pieces and smoosh it into a perfect cube, then eat it. (Please tell me someone else did this too)


kate May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

Sourdough….the more sour and tangy the better and with plenty of good unsalted butter on it (melty like…) maybe with a drizzle of honey and oh my GOD do I want some bread right about now!!!!!


RebeccaC May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

I absolutely LOVE to bake bread…I find it so relaxing. I have a recipe for a super fast french loaf and an amazing sweet dinner roll. But I keep hearing about Five Minutes A Day and I’ve been LUSTING after it. I am officially buying this book now thanks to you.


Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

I can’t live without this book! It is one of my faves. Great job on your sourdough. That is one handsome loaf of bread!


Sunny May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

wow, that bread looks amazing! sourdough is my favorite. i’ve always shied away from making homemade bread, but this doesn’t sound too hard… i’ll have to give it a try!


Joie de vivre May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

Isn’t that book wonderful! I won a copy from the Friday Friends and I just love it!


Princess Pointful May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

I loooove sourdough artisan bread, and potato bread. Mmmm.


magda May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’m the same way with favorites … it’s so hard to nail any one thing down!
This looks like such a fun project. I had to google around to find out what a pizza peel is (is that embarassing?), but now that I know, I might just have to try it out : )


Juliana May 6, 2009 at 3:00 am

Love bread period! The one that you feature is just amazing…I am speechless. Thank you! I’ll definitely try it!


Venus May 7, 2009 at 3:00 am

I love your photos. I have never wanted to bake bread as badly as right now! Just may have to do it this weekend.
I am the same way with favorites by the way. How can you ever have one really? It’s not possible.


Food Hunter May 8, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’m so addicted to this book right now.


Gudrun May 11, 2009 at 3:00 am

I love love love this book! I wrote about it a couple weeks ago – they have completely altered the way I think about bread. The technique is easy to follow and their writing style is so comforting and empowering! Cannot wait for the new one, which will have a whole section on Gluten Free breads :-)


goodshoeday May 14, 2009 at 3:00 am

Wow – this looks really good and nice and simple. The sourdough experiment I’ve got going take 4 WEEKS before you even get to bake bread and I’m only 2 weeks in! I’ll be giving this a go to see how it compares.


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