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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five Minutes a Day Artisan Bread

After one of my kids told me I could bake bread in my new enamel Dutch oven, I was on a quest.  A bit of research quick found Jim Lahey's No Knead Crusty Bread recipe that originally appeared in The New York Time's Minimalist column.  Others have used that recipe as a starting point, modifying the amounts of yeast, salt and water as well as adding a wide range of other ingredients but the basics of making this bread are the same.  Jim himself has modified the original method to shorten the fermentation time.  Jim's method relies on a lot of water to make a sticky dough, little yeast and a fermentation period of 12 to 18 hours then after forming the loaf, it is left to rise for 40 minutes and finally baked in a pre-heated Dutch oven.  My first loaf of no knead crusty bread was a huge success!  Searching for more ideas using Jim's method, I stumbled upon a YouTube video of how to make artisan bread in five minutes a day.  The no knead method was created by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe François who have written three cookbooks using their method.  Their method involves making a larger batch of dough, let it ferment 2 to three hours until bubbly then refrigerate the dough, cutting of a piece when you want to make a loaf of bread.  Well, that certainly had my interest!

ingredients for 5 minutes a day artisan bread
One thing I have noticed is regardless of who created the original method, the amount of yeast invariably is modified by whoever is making the dough.  Basically, if they don't get a good rise the first time, they increase the yeast.  A low rise can be due to insufficient fermentation period.  Even though a recipe says to let the dough rise 40 minutes, there is no problem with letting it rise longer.  In fact, the recipe I used for the no knead crusty bread was 40 minutes but I found several who were letting it rise as long as 2 hours.  The gluten content in the flour can also affect the rise.  I use Canadian flour made from Western hard wheat which is superior to flour made from soft wheat for bread making.  Getting a good rise with any yeast dough has never been a problem for me.  If you have a problem getting a good rise from the dough, adding gluten flour or lethicin granules to the dry ingredients will remedy the problem or you can use bread flour. 

I modified a recipe that had been modified from the master dough recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe François.  That recipe had been modified to use a bit more yeast and the method modified to use a Dutch oven.  Jeff and Zoe use a tray of water in the oven under the baking loaf of bread.  I modified that recipe to use unbleached flour, instant yeast and sea salt and like the video, I just cut off the amount of dough I wanted to use rather than weigh it out.

Basic Five Minute a Day Artisan Dough

6½ c unbleached flour
3 c warm water
2 tbsp instant yeast
1½ tbsp sea salt

[method as follows in the commentary]

mixed ingredients for 5 minutes a day artisan bread
I had to buy a larger covered container for this dough as it does double in size at the stage before being refrigerated.  I bought a 5.74 L (24.26 c) BPA free, food grade plastic container to use for this purpose.  I liked the lower design of this label but in hindsight one of the smaller plastic pails from the doughnut shop would have worked as well except I didn't have an empty one.

After dumping the dry ingredients in a , I mixed them together with a fork.  Once the dry ingredients were mixed, I poured in the warm water and started mixing with a fork.  It quickly became apparent that the best way to mix this dough was with my hands.  It was a bit slow going.

shaggy dough for 5 minutes a day artisan bread
Once the dough was fully mixed, it was definitely sticky with a shaggy appearance.  It was just slightly stiffer than the no knead crusty bread dough but not by much.  At this point, I covered the container with the lid but did not snap it down tightly.  This allowed the gases to escape during the fermentation period at room temperature.

The two characteristics of this bread dough that set it apart from kneaded bread doughs is the shaggy appearance and high moisture content.  The moisture content is what will create the crispy, chewy crusty and moist interior of the bread.  Like the no knead crusty bread, the best way to achieve these results is baking in a Dutch oven although Zoe uses the water in a tray under the baking loaf of bread method. 

dough for 5 minutes a day artisan bread ready for refrigerator
I let the dough sit for about 2½ hours at room temperature until it was nice and bubbly.  The key thing to look for is this bubbly appearance before refrigerating.  It may take more or less time depending on how warm your kitchen is.  Don't rush it!  Once the dough was nice and bubbly as pictured, I put the lid on the container but did not snap it down and put the container in the refrigerator.

In all honesty, the Five Minutes a Day is a bit misleading, actually quite misleading.  To use this dough, you cut off a piece the desired size then shape it into the desired shape.  So that part does take about five minutes.  However, the shaped dough must then sit for at least two hours to rise, then it bakes for a total of 65 - 75 minutes.  In terms of time, a kneaded bread (and I do make a lot of kneaded) can be made in that same time frame.  In short, there is no time savings at all.  The only thing eliminated is the kneading.  The second observation with this method is the container is large, and it has to be large to accommodate the bubbly dough.  A container this large takes up a lot of refrigerator space that can be a problem for some.  However, there are two benefits to using the Five Minute a Day Artisan Bread method. 

The long, cool fermentation results in an outstanding bread with a nice flavour and rise.  As the dough continues to ferment in the refrigerator it develops the tang of sourdough, becoming stronger the longer it fermentss.  So, this is a very easy way to make faux sourdough bread.  True sourdough bread uses a starter without any additional yeast added.  Ideally the Five Minute a Day Artisan Bread method is meant to make five loaves of bread over five days.  In reality, this is not feasible for some folks, including ourselves as we use three to four loaves of bread per week.  I actually made my first loaf of bread from the fermented dough two days after it first went into the refrigerator.  Now, the no knead crusty bread (12 - 18 hr room temperature fermentation) was excellent but the loaf made with the cold fermentation (Five Minute a Day method) was outstanding!

Both the no knead crusty bread and five minute a artisan day bread dough methods have their pros and cons.  Both give above average results.  I am now on to experimenting with both recipes, tweaking bake times and temperature just slightly to get the bottom crust just right.  I am also experimenting with additions.  I will share the results of the experiments as they become available.

1 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Very interesting post. Thank you.