5 Ingredients or Fewer

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François' 5-Minute Artisan Bread

June 26, 2021
41 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes four 1-pound loaves
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

What You'll Need
  • 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)
  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.

  • Betsy420
  • helen
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    Linda Steinberg
  • brushjl

77 Reviews

Betsy420 April 8, 2024
This is an incredible recipe. I love having freshly baked bread available to me any time. The recipe goes together in less than 5 minutes.
brushjl March 19, 2024
Hardly five minutes more like three days. My bread looked nothing like the picture and was kind of rubbery. It made good toast.
Mary October 15, 2023
I made 1/2 a recipe yesterday since my husband is the only one who can eat it. Today I made 2 buns about 150g each. Baked them for 20 min on a pizza stone with steam. They were a hit!!
stronghoney July 29, 2023
Easy, quick, very forgiving. This one is a keeper. I'm sure I will be experimenting with flour changes and additions.
helen June 9, 2023
I have been baking bread for over 40 years and I've never made such a good, easy, high hydration bread. I used 4 cups all purpose flour and 2 scant cups King Arthur white whole wheat. I was tempted to add some oil, but didn't. I think the bread is a little salty, but I like salt, so it's fine with me. The crust was beautifully caramelized, yet easy to cut. The crumb was open and light. I cooked it in a dutch oven on parchment dusted with flour. It held it's shape (not like some high hydration breads that ooze and look like biscotti when you cut them). I'm so happy to have more dough in the fridge. I may even throw out my four year old sourdough starter, because, why fuss?
Hulabelle March 25, 2023
Made this bread today after giving the dough 24 hrs in the fridge. It baked up beautifully on a pizza stone. Delicious chewy, great texture. What a neat recipe, so easy .
Arrxx February 15, 2023
Question. If you only want to make 1 or 2 loaves can you 1/2 the recipe? Or freeze the dough? Or make a 2# loaf?
Granny A. February 15, 2023
Haven't tried cutting in half, but I can't see why it wouldn't work. I have par baked and frozen. Check on the internet. I think the rec was bake 80 percent. Wrap tightly. And freeze. Ingredients are not very expensive. I often give a loaf to a friend. Most peeps don't bake bread so it's a big treat. Also slice after cooling, lay on a tray, then freeze. Bag frozen slices.
Arrxx February 15, 2023
Thanks for the suggestions! I often freeze break with no ill effects.
Jeff H. February 15, 2023
Head over to my website at https://BreadIn5.com, where I can answer in depth (or my books). Short answers: yes...
Joieouse June 2, 2023
Sorry! Somehow flagged this as inappropriate whilst scrolling down 😩
Chris February 6, 2023
I’m not new to bread baking but this is the easiest and one of the best recipes I’ve ever made. I used only 1 tablespoon of salt but will use 1 1/2 next time, as I found it lacking. I baked my first loaf after 2 days in the fridge using 24 ounces of dough and have enough left for 2 more 1# loaves. The baking time took about 5 minutes longer than stated because of the extra weight, temping at 200 degrees internally. I may add a little whole wheat flour or rye flour or coarse cornmeal or a combination next time I make the recipe just to be different.
Granny A. February 6, 2023
Chris, it's amazing. For a feast of recipes using the same technique with whole grain/part whole grain breads, try their book: The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Revised and Updated with New Recipes
Book by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François. I've made at least a dozen of the recipes and they've all be great.
Becky January 12, 2023
I made this bread for the first time today just the way it was written. I made it yesterday and left it over night in the fridge and baked it today. I’m not a newbie to bread baking but I have to say that this is by far the easiest and tastiest bread I’ve ever made! My husband, who normally isn’t a bread person, told me that I need to just keep the dough on hand so we could have homemade bread anytime we want it. I may just do that! I will be singing the praises of this bread for sure - easy to make, a nice crust that’s not too chewy, and yet tender and delicious on the inside! Thanks for sharing it as it will be my go to bread from now on.
Teatime January 11, 2023
Curious that I’ve always been told to keep salt separate from the yeast. Doesn’t salt kill the yeast? I usually add a teaspoon of sugar to yeast and add water and then flour- or flour and then water.
Margery J. January 10, 2023
I wouldn’t be using a *cast iron* pan with ice. I’ve known cast iron to crack. I use a steel roasting pan—shallow and tolerant of temperature extremes. Can anyone assure me that this is a good use of cast iron?
Dk October 29, 2022
My everyday bread, I have used it as a base recipe to make a seedy, grainy bread. I make 2 loaves out of the recipe, as soon as I bake my loaves I mix the dry ingredients in the bowl so it’s ready to go the next time I need it.
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.
Linda S. January 17, 2023
would you share your measurements of cheese added to the bread and olive mixture? Thanks
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!