Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François' 5-Minute Artisan Bread

April 22, 2016

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Makes: four 1-pound loaves
Prep time: 2 hrs
Cook time: 25 min

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  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.

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Reviews (23) Questions (1)

23 Reviews

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.
 
judy September 21, 2016
I have been baking ARtisan bread for several years now, and regular bread for about 40 years before that! My old recipe was always hockey pucks. We jusst ate it because it was good for us. I have settled on a basic artisan bread recipe that is about half way between both loaf styles. I use buttermilk, I add a dash of xanthan gum for texture. And I like the dough a little drier than artisan bread recipes. I mix by hand until jut mixed, I put in a plastic container I have for bread raising (simple largish plastic storage container), sprinkle the dough with a thin layer of flour and I cover with an elastic and vinyl bowl cover I got years ago from VErmont Country store (no plastic film in this household for more than a decade!) wonderful bread. very forgiving, dough keeps for about 10 days, but also freezes well. I like to roll in seeds and herbs or dried fruits when doing final knead before final rise. I bake it in a pullman loaf pan and it is great for sandwiches, toast, or crisped up for crackers. Endless variety of options. KNow that if you leave it until the end of the time it becomes increasingly "sour" in taste. By that time it is excellent for grilled cheese! It took me several years to "own" this bread recipe, and now I love it. I no longer make hockey pucks, even if the dough is 75% whole wheat and a lot of seeds and added in grains--like Bob's REd Mill 7 grain cereal.
 
AntoniaJames June 16, 2016
Sarah, when you made this bread, did you use volume or mass units of measure in your testing? I'm a bit confused by the alternate measures of water stated above - 3 cups or 24 ounces of water. A cup of water weighs eight fluid ounces, which is 8.32 ounces on the scale. What is the correct amount to use? Thanks! ;o). P.S. I've also posted this question to the authors' site noted in the comment below, though my question really is about what you actually did.
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. June 17, 2016
Hi there, I used mass units.
 
AntoniaJames June 17, 2016
Okay, great, thanks for the clarification. I'm eager to try this!<br />It seems that the volume in the recipe needs to be adjusted, as 24 ounces (assuming not 24 fluid ounces) do not = 3 cups, right? (It's actually about 2.88 cups, or 1.92 tablespoons less.) <br />Cheers,<br />AJ ;o)
 
Susan W. June 20, 2016
Antonia, I have made this bread 3 times now. I love it. I used 3 cups fluid ounces and it's perfect. Although with such a massive amount of forgiving dough, I can't imagine under 2 TBS difference would matter, but maybe that's just me. I hope you report back with your results. What are your thoughts about halving the recipe. Something in my memory tells me you don't quite halve the yeast. I gave up bread years ago and only make it once in a while, so it could be a false memory.
 
AntoniaJames June 22, 2016
You're right; 2 tablespoons won't make much difference in this recipe. It bothers me, however, that readers would see that 3 cups (24 ounces) and draw the incorrect but reasonable inference that a cup of water weighs 8 ounces. (I'm a lawyer whose livelihood depends on accuracy and precision in everything I write.) <br /><br />The one ounce of water may not make a difference in this recipe, but it certainly could in others. I always use metric mass measures and rely on standard conversions, which is why I initially asked whether Sarah used mass or volume. I've found it a great idea to do that with all recipes, given that so many authors do not actually test in both volume and mass, relying instead on conversion tables. <br /><br />You run into trouble where the author has tested using volume measures and then converted to mass without actually measuring. The variability in measurement techniques, humidity affecting the density of ingredients, or even how the dry ingredient was poured into the canister, etc. all make such mass measure conversions unreliable. ;o)
 
Jeff H. April 29, 2016
Hey all: <br />I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, where this recipe comes from. If you have questions about the recipes, just post one on our site: BreadIn5.com -- at any "Comments" or "Reply" field. <br /><br />And yes, the 5 minutes refers to the active time required for each 1-pound loaf.<br /><br />Jeff
 
JEAN G. April 27, 2016
As I said before, this title is so misleading! Mixing the flour, water, yeast, and salt in less than 5 minutes does not make the bread! You should really think about renaming the recipe!<br />Jean Gordon.
 
Tyler V. April 27, 2016
If you read the book (The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day), the authors explain that once the dough is mixed, it only takes 5 minutes of active time to make a loaf. It's a neat process. You make a huge batch of very slack dough and let it rest in your fridge for up to two weeks. The longer the rest, the more tang the dough develops. I've made a lot of bread and the method laid out in this book has not only saved me a lot of time, it's given excellent results. You get nice big holes and a crackly crust.
 
JEAN G. April 27, 2016
Hello: Why is this recipe named 5-Minute Artisan Bread? This title is so misleading! There is nothing done in 5 minutes in this recipe!<br />Jean Gordon.
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 27, 2016
Mixing the flour, water, yeast, and salt takes less than 5 minutes! Especially if you use a scale to measure.
 
marynn April 26, 2016
When using the pre-heated Dutch oven method, I just plop in some ice cubes between the parchment paper cradled bread and the side of the pot. Easy, quick, less chance of a nasty burn.
 
Susan W. May 15, 2016
Marynn, I hope you see this question. Do you cover the Dutch oven as that variation in the recipe directs? Or do you leave it uncovered because of the steam from the ice?
 
Jessica April 24, 2016
This is the bread-baking method I use, and it's extremely reliable and no-fuss. Excellent for time-constrained households that are addicted to homemade bread and unwilling to pay a premium for bread of equivalent quality. For a whole wheat version, substitute about half of the white flour with whole wheat AP flour and add 1/4 of vital wheat gluten and a little extra water so the consistency of the WW batch matches that of an all-white flour one. Yields a light, extremely flavorful and chewy loaf with great, airy crumb.
 
AntoniaJames June 22, 2016
Thanks so much, Jessica, for sharing this. I plan to make a batch using whole wheat today.
 
Johndan April 23, 2016
Although it's common for recipes to specify adding ice to a pan to create steam, doing so drops the oven temp needlessly. Water--even hot--is going to convert to steam more quickly and without cooling the oven off as much.
 
Smaug April 26, 2016
I'd wondered if anyone else noticed that- I think people just like the spectacle.
 
Tyler V. April 27, 2016
I've used this method for a while, and read the book. The authors specify that you should put hot water in a boiler tray on the rack below your baking stone when you put the loaf in the oven. Nowhere do they suggest the ice method. Probably because it doesn't make sense.
 
Veronica V. May 24, 2016
Ice gives you steam for a longer period of time than water. Ice in the bottom of the oven or a pan makes a very small level change with the heat.
 
Smaug November 28, 2016
That's because it takes longer to start making steam- you have to heat the pan it's in first; that then has less heat and thus will produce less steam. Presumably you have more water if you run out-use hot water. This is also too hot for parchment. I don't think anyone actually worries about dough doubling or tripling exactly, that's just a vague guideline for inexperienced bakers.
 
Smaug November 28, 2016
That is, the pan has to heat the ice first.