5 Ingredients or Fewer

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François' 5-Minute Artisan Bread

June 26, 2021
4.5 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I found this famous—and famously reliable—recipe on Leite's Culinaria, where it was adapted from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.

My extended version of the recipe gives instructions for letting the dough rise in a brotform basket, on a baking sheet turned upside down, or on a peel. It also gives instructions for baking on a stone or a sheet, or in a preheated Dutch oven. Read to the end before you start—it'll make life/bread-baking easier! —Sarah Jampel

  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes four 1-pound loaves
  • 3 cups (24 ounces) water, plus more for baking the bread
  • 1 tablespoon (.35 ounce) yeast (active dry, instant, quick rise, or bread machine is fine)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons (.6 to .9 ounce) kosher or other coarse salt, to taste
  • 6 1/2 cups (2 pounds) unbleached all-purpose flour, measured by the scoop-and-sweep method
  • Cornmeal, for dusting (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Warm the water so that it's slightly warmer than body temperature—about 100° F (warm to touch, but not hot).
  2. In a large bowl mix the yeast, warm water, and salt. Don't worry about getting the yeast to dissolve.
  3. Add the flour all at once, then use a spoon to mix until the flour is completely incorporated and you have a blobby dough. (If it becomes difficult to stir, use very wet hands to press the mixture together.) Don't knead the dough—you want it to be wet and loose; just be sure there are no dry flour patches.
  4. Loosely cover the container and let the dough hang out at room temperature for about 2 hours, until it begins to rise and collapse/flatten on the top. (Leite says: "Relax. It’s bread dough, not a newborn. You don’t need to monitor it constantly. And don’t worry about the dough being precisely double or triple its original volume as you would with a traditional bread recipe. Just walk away, go about your business, and come back in 2 hours. Seriously.")
  5. After those 2 hours, stash the container in the fridge. If you're using a lid, leave it cracked open for the first couple of days before sealing it. I used a loose layer of plastic wrap. You can bake the dough any time after the initial 2-hour rise, but it will be less sticky once it's been refrigerated—it's best to leave it overnight before handling.
  6. Once refrigerated, the dough will seem to have shrunk, but don't worry. Do not punch the dough down, as you're trying to retain as much gas as possible. You can use the dough anytime within 14 days.
  7. When you want to bake a loaf, dust a pizza peel or upside down baking sheet with cornmeal or line with parchment paper; if you're using a banneton or brotform, sprinkle it generously with flour. Lightly flour a work surface. Measure a 1-pound piece of dough. Add just enough flour to the dough and your hands so that you can handle it without freaking out. Stretch the dough ever-so-gently and gather the outsides towards the middle, tucking the edges underneath. Using the counter for pressure, use your hands to drag and draw the dough quickly into a ball shape. Don't work it too much and don't worry about perfection.
  8. Place the shaped loaves on your pizza peel or baking sheet OR, if using a brotform, place it in the floured basket—the dough that rests against the basket will be the top of your loaf. Let it rest for 40 minutes. It may not rise much during this period, so don't stress.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450° F for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat a baking stone, baking sheet, or a heavy Dutch oven (lid and pot, both—but separated) on a middle rack the entire time. If you're baking the bread on a stone or baking sheet (as opposed to a Dutch oven), place a cast-iron pan on any rack that will not interfere.
  10. If you let the dough rise on a peel or baking sheet, dust the top of the raised loaf with flour and use a serrated bread knife to slash a 1/2-inch deep cross on the top. If you let the dough rise in a basket, simply flip it out on a piece of parchment paper so that it's beautiful side is facing up, then make the cut.
  11. Transfer the loaf to the hot peel/baking sheet/pot in the oven. If your dough rose on a peel or sheet dusted with cornmeal, you'll have to push then pull it so that it lands on the hot stone or sheet or in the pot. If you've let it rise on parchment, you can simply lift the parchment and place the dough, parchment and all, onto your hot surface.
  12. If you're using a stone or a sheet, add 1/2 cup of ice to the cast-iron pan when you put the dough in the oven to create steam. Be careful to stand back and step away immediately! If you're using a pot, there's no need for that—simply close the lid (be careful—it's hot!) when you add the dough. This will generate enough steam within the pot.
  13. Check the bread after 20 minutes. If using a Dutch oven, this is when you should remove the lid and let the crust get dark. When the crust is very brown and firm, remove from the oven (tap the bottom—if it sounds hollow, it's done) and let cool completely on a wire rack.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sarah Brown Slaght
    Sarah Brown Slaght
  • David Nernberg
    David Nernberg
  • Beth Steenburgen
    Beth Steenburgen
  • Brian D Morisky
    Brian D Morisky
  • L Dallin Roberson
    L Dallin Roberson

56 Reviews

Suz M. January 9, 2022
I made this bread last night and I couldn’t wait to get up this morning to toast a slice. I sprinkled ‘everything’ spice blend on the top—delicious, and so easy.
Great recipe!
Granny A. July 13, 2021
Update on "gnarly" problem. From The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. "...you may find that at the end of the batch's life, the surface darkens (or even turns gray) and it develops a more intense sourdough flavor; dark liquid may collect...--don't toss it, just pour off the liquid, and work in enough flour to absorb excess moisture. Then rest the dough for 2 hours at room temperature before using it. If you're not using it right away, refrigerate it again....keep it to the end of the dough's recommended life. Discard any batch that develops mold on its surface which you can identify as dark or light patches, with or without a fuzzy appearance.
Granny A. June 26, 2021
I've made this twice. No problems of the dough getting "gnarly." Suggest checking your refrigerator temperature, S.B. 40 degrees F. Zoe Francois gives a dozen variations to make with this dough--from naan and pita to sticky buns. I love how easy it is and I can give a loaf to a friend. I've made cheese bread with Manchego (off the charts), olive bread and walnut bread so far.
Suellen N. October 9, 2020
The version is more complicated than the one in the original cookbook.

I bake it without refrigerating It first some times.
I use a pizza stone with an old rimmed baking sheet on the rack below to put a cup of water when I start the 30 minute baking. I would think an upside down baking sheet would work but haven’t tried it.
I find that 14 days is too long to keep it in the fridge. Maybe because my container has a locking lid but it is the King Arthur bread rising container that I use to store it. It gets a grey surface and ruined the taste and consistency of the Bread when I cooked it anyway.

BeccaKhuai August 10, 2020
I am so excited, I started the load last night and I am wondering it's ready how many breads in total does this dough recipe make. I watched this recipe originally on food52 highlights and she made 2 loafs. She had more dough so in wondering how many more can I make after the 2. Please let me know and thanks again for this recipe😁
BeccaKhuai August 10, 2020
Loaf, but I want bread recipe*
HarriedChef October 28, 2020
I made 2 yesterday. And it looks like I have enough dough for 2 more.
Granny A. June 28, 2021
It's supposed to make 4 one-pound loaves, but I've gotten a little less, three loaves and enough for one of Francois' smaller recipes like a baguette.
Charmt June 26, 2020
I have made this easy bread several times including a small loaf today with everything but the bagel seasoning on the loaf it was delicious!,,,
Penelope May 25, 2020
Had problem with this. Made on 5/19...put in fridge in stainless pan with plate on top, slightly off kilter as suggested! Looked maybe a day after and it had risen quite a bit...pan was full. Fast forward 5 days...there was an amazing amount of white liquid on the bottom of the pan! It was waayyy too wet. Used pillsbury ap flour..all daughter could get at beginning of covid, and 1T instant yeast as directions indicated it made no deference, which surprised me, but took it at it’s word! Although I’m not a usual bread maker at this point in my life, I used to be. Returned blob I was going to bake back in pan and returned to fridge. Two questions: is this salvageable at this point and 2....what caused all that extra liquid?
Lisa June 29, 2020
Not sure what causes the liquid, but I get it too, and I use unbleached AP flour. You could have just dumped the liquid out and made the bread. I've been making this bread for a few years and usually cook up all the dough after 2 or 3 days. (it freezes good) Any longer than that and it starts getting gnarly looking. The bread still tastes good, but the look of the dough is very off putting. One time, I did let some dough sit around for 14 days because I forgot about it. Once again, good bread, really gnarly looking dough.
eayml May 6, 2020
This was the first loaf I've baked in my life and it came out DELICIOUS! This recipe is so dead easy I'm going to bake bread all the time! Thanks for sharing!
Sarah B. May 1, 2020
I made my first loaf today and my daughter is having it for lunch. She says it delicious! It's very dense though. Does anyone know why that is?
David N. May 1, 2020
Good starter recipe. I use it often but with 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Just let rise longer (8-24 hours depending on what you see). I use this for pizza dough and it is great because it keeps for a while and gives you a nice bubbly crust. I have also used it for rolls and baguettes. Rather than the cast iron steam method, just brush it with a bit of water before putting on a pizza stone (if doing bread, not pizza). Accepts a ton of four so pretty easy to work with. @@
Sarah B. May 3, 2020
David, what is the difference in the dough when you use 1/4 tsp instead of a tablespoon of yeast? I'm interested in trying this. Thanks.
David N. May 3, 2020
None, only rise time is effected as far as I can tell. So long as there are no enrichers (egg, milk or butter) I reduce yeast in every bread recipe. Longer rise times offer better flavor.
Sarah B. May 3, 2020
Thanks David, I will try that next time especially since yeast is hard to find these days!
Brian D. June 2, 2020
Less yeast, longer time develops more complex flavor and gorgeous structure.
David N. May 1, 2020
Good starter recipe. I use it often but with 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Just let rise longer (8-24 hours depending on what you see). I use this for pizza dough and it is great because it keeps for a while and gives you a nice bubbly crust. I have also used it for rolls and baguettes. Rather than the cast iron steam method, just brush it with a bit of water before putting on a pizza stone (if doing bread, not pizza). Accepts a ton of four so pretty easy to work with.
JEAN G. April 30, 2020
At last! Even when it was a long time ago, at least Beth S. agreed with me! It has "A Silly Name", nothing to do with the reality of making the bread! And, thank you Sarah Jampel for posting this new version that is a reality of how long it takes to make the bread!!! Keep safe you, your photographer husband (Congratulations are due to him for being such a patient and good photographer that I have been watching in lockdown, and your toddler, though I did not get a glimpse of him!! Thanks for all that you do and share! I enjoy it very much!!!
Sarah B. April 30, 2020
Can you use a standing mixer with the hook to incorporate all the ingredients instead of a spoon?
David N. May 11, 2020
I wouldn't. It comes together easily. The idea is to give it lots of time to develop gluten. If you put it in a stand mixer, it could over mix. If you decide to do so, I would not use a hook but a paddle and only for less than 30 seconds (probably all it takes). I use a silicone spatula and it comes together in about a minute of stirring.
Granny A. June 28, 2021
I watched Zoe make this in the Craftsy Bread Baking course. She says it's OK to use the mixer and dough hook.
Diedre K. October 14, 2019
Made this bread dough over the weekend and baked the first loaf tonight. The crust is outstanding but, the crumb is rather gummy. I know it was baked to the proper temp, rose nicely. Any suggestions?
L D. February 25, 2020
How soon after baking did you cut it?
Tommy August 31, 2019
ciao volevo sapere gli ingredienti in kilogrammi, potete dirmeli?
Cicou March 10, 2019
Hi ! Thank you for the recipe !
Just a quick question .. by all purpose flour, do you mean we dont have to use bread flour (strong white flour), can we use flour to bake cake for example ?
Thank you
fp February 1, 2019
Thank you for such an easy to follow and successful recipe.
It seems foolproof; I used a mixture of whole-wheat and all-purpose white flours, some oats and flax seed, and rolled the final loaf in sunflower seeds.
I baked one small loaf shortly after the two-hour resting, and another the next day. Both were perfect, though the next day one was better. The taste and texture were exactly what I wanted. Will bake the rest next week and I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes out.
And yes, it is incredibly easy and so little effort for such good results. Thank you!
John January 15, 2019
Easy...Tasty...It’s everything I need in a bread recipe!
Summer +. August 17, 2018
This is the easiest recipe with the most fabulous results! I’ve made it many times now, great recipe thanks for sharing!
Beth S. October 19, 2016
5 minutes...? It is recommended that it remain overnight in the frig.....just a silly name.
Cassie W. August 1, 2020
5 minutes of "hands on" time