It is hard to be in my presence for more than a few moments without me mentioning my new favorite cookbook, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Written by Jeff Hertzberger and Zoe Francois, who met when their children were together in the same music class, this book removes much of the mystery around baking crusty, artisan bread in your own home. She is a professional pastry chef; he is a doctor and consultant with a love of great bread. With all this practical and analytical skill, it is no wonder they have created this well thought out book.
The reason I love this book is that Zoe and Jeff have made it so easy to have fresh, European-style, artisan bread every day. The premise is simple – create a wet dough, without kneading, and allow it to rise slowly at a cool temperature, basically, in your refrigerator. And it is so simple to bake the bread – 1 hour before you are ready to bake, take out a lump of dough, form it into a loaf and allow to rest. Preheat your oven, and after the dough rests, slide it onto the hot pizza stone.
I have made several of the breads and the taste and texture has always been excellent, although they don’t always end up looking exactly like the pictures (see Pain Epi above). Jeff and Zoe provide several key breads, then build new recipes off those – for example, I made the Cinnamon Rolls and the Pletzel from the same Challah master recipe. From their website, I also tried baking bread in my dutch oven, which worked extremely well. This is good to know, if you do not have a pizza stone!
My past experience includes baking bread from scratch, but I don’t think that is a requirement to use this book. The recipes are very simple and the conversational tone of the instructions makes it very easy to follow. I highly recommend this book to other interested home cooks craving easy homemade bread.
P.S. I am not affiliated in any way with Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, I am just a happy customer!