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Jul 28, 2008 12:35 PM

Artisan Bread Five Minutes makes me look like a genius

A few weeks ago I bough a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Have been experimenting with it and I just love this book. However, last night I had my moment of glory.

Unexpectedly found myself having a dinner party at 8:30 last night. Had just enough chicken breasts to marinate and grill. Had enough green beans to steam, and plenty of greens for salad. But ack! No bread! Dinner guests wouldn't have cared, of course, as they had overstayed our weekly "happy hour" anyway. Local store was closed. But then I remembered that I had some of the bread dough left in the fridge. Preheated the oven, formed a loaf of bread and everything was done around the same time. Friends were shocked and awed. It was one of those great moments.

If anyone hasn't tried this method of baking bread, I very highly recommend it. It makes baking a loaf of bread almost too easy. In fact, I'm going downstairs right now to mix up another batch. Amazing book. There's a recipe from the book on the NY Times website:

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    1. Yea for you, Nyleve. I, too, love this recipe/method. I prefer it over the Jim Lahey method. He has a wetter dough baked in a large pot. That was great bread too, beautiful crumb, but I enjoy the crust and chewy texture that results from the Hertzberg method.

      I've only used the basic recipe that was in the NYT. Are their others in the book that you're particularly fond of?

      1 Reply
      1. re: lynnlato

        I've only tried the basic "boule" so far. I made it both plain and as an olive bread. They were both fantastic but I prefer the floured crust finish of the boule to the cornstarch glaze of the olive bread. In the future I'll skip the glaze when making the olive bread.

        Looking forward to other breads in the near future.

      2. Any substitutions if you don't have a stone?

        11 Replies
        1. re: beggsy

          Sorry, I scrolled down on the recipe and found the alternate to the stone.

          1. re: beggsy

            I have a stack of quarry tiles which I use instead of a proper pizza stone. I like them because they're a) cheap; b) thicker, less fragile; and c) easy to pile up and store when not in use. I'm pretty sure they didn't cost me $10 in total and I've been using them for years.

            1. re: Nyleve

              I use the quarry tiles, too, and they are awesome. I just replaced them for the first time in maybe 10 years. I think it cost about $4. I'm a big fan of the Artisan Bread book, also. I've done so much talking it up among my friends and acquaintances I'm thinking I should be on their payroll.

              1. re: rockycat

                where did you buy quarry tiles?

                1. re: fern

                  I'm in Ontario. I picked up my tiles at a re-use store - where they sell reclaimed or excess building material. I've heard people complain that they can't find quarry tile anywhere but I would think you could find them at any decent building supply store. Or at the very least, at a tile specialty shop.

                  1. re: fern

                    I brought mine years ago in the tile section of the local home inprovement center. Here, we have Home Depot, or Lowes. They were about 8" square, and cost about 80 cents each.

                      1. re: Jibe

                        what's the finish on the tile? Unpainted? terra cotta?

                    1. re: rockycat

                      I've used quarry tiles, too, though they are slightly more prone to thermal shocking. Unglazed terra cotta saucers (the kind you get to put under flower pots) work very well. In a pinch, just stack a couple of pizza pans or cookie sheets to provide thermal mass.
                      Has anyone used marble tiles? One of the odd lot stores in Milwaukee regularly used to carry rather nice pieces of marble. Marble is known to be more fire resistant than some other building stones. My only question is whether, like soapstone, it would have so much termal mass that it would tend to burn the bottom crust before the loaf baked.

                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                        Would the marble be less porous and would that make a difference?

                        It seems like the porous tiles and stones might kind of absorb water a bit and make a crispier bottom crust?

                        1. re: karykat

                          Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the only way to find out is to try it. I think I'll look around.

              2. thanks for posting this...I've always wanted an easy starting point for bread, baking is my achilles heel in the kitchen, mainly because I don't like sweets...but I would love to start baking bread


                1 Reply
                1. re: joshlane4

                  This method is so beyond easy it's almost embarassing. You ought to follow the directions exactly - it's a pretty unique process, compared to other ways of making bread. But it works and it's fantastic.

                2. I'm grateful for the encouragement, too. I've got everything to start --I'm just lollygagging on getting started. I plan to do just a little loaf at a time in a pyrex covered dish, so that the dish becomes its own little oven. Will let you know.....