Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Feb 9, 2009 10:05 AM

Artisan Bread - Question on the baked result

I was very excited about the recent thread on Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day. I got the basic recipe on line from NYT and have the book on hold at the library (I'm number 3 in line).

But, I got impatient and using the basic recipe from the NYT, I made a batch yesterday. Super easy to throw together, I covered and let it rise about 2 1/2 hours. The dough really came up fast and was very airy. Following the instructions, I floured the top and though sticky, I found it easy to cut of the described amount and shape it. Since I have neither a stone nor a peel, I used the alternate baking instructions... Shaped the circle into an oval and placed in a greased, non-stick loaf pan. Preheated the oven to 450 degrees with the broiler pan on the floor of the oven, placed the loaf pan on the middle rack, added water to the broiler pan, quickly shut the door and baked for 30 mins. Actually, I went about 35 mins.

The result was a nicely browned loaf that didn't raise up very high, but had a nice thunk when I knocked on it. I let it cool and sliced into it. The crust was crisp but not as thick as I was expecting it. And the interior was very spongy. Not surprising since the risen dough was spongy. I threw the rest of the batch into the refridgerator. This morning, it was still deflated.

Will the baked loaf improve if I age the dough?
Will the unbaked dough rise up again?
Did I do something wrong?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This might be an oversight, but you don't mention anything about letting the dough rest after shaping and placing in the loaf pan. Did you accidentally skip that step? It might explain why the load wasn't as raised...

    I used to use this recipe, and I found that I needed to lean towards the longer rise, especially during winter, when it tends to be pretty cool in my house. I didn't have a stone or peel, but I didn't like the loaf pan either, so I used an inverted dark, heavy rimmed baking sheet that I'd preheat in the oven, just like you would a stone. Then I'd bake the loaf as if using the pizza stone, except on a piece of parchment.

    In my opinion, the Cooks Illustrated "Almost No Knead Bread 2.0" is an easier, tastier loaf. It's the recipe I use now, instead of the Artisan loaf. It takes longer due to rise time, but the hands-on work load is almost the same. Here's a link to the recipe that I found online:

    2 Replies
    1. re: RosemaryHoney

      Rosemary, Yes, I did let it rest the recommended 40 mins and while it did rise a bit the second time, it wasn't a huge rise.

      Thanks for posting the recipe you use.

      1. re: janetms383

        In the errata, it says to let it rise more like an hour or so, which is what I usually do. - I think I usually do the full hour and a half. I've only made the bread using a pizza stone.

    2. i don't think you did anything wrong. i was most disappointed when i made it in a loaf pan, though. so after that, i just baked it on a cookie sheet and it worked just fine. however, my preferred method is to bake a baguette on my couche. it's amazing. i love this bread.

      the dough will improve with age, but it will also not rise as much.

      6 Replies
      1. re: eLizard

        I'm surprised to hear you can just bake it on a cookie sheet. Do you grease and use the cormeal, just the cormeal, or (as Rosemary suggested) parchment?

        The dough was so loose, I thought it would run all over the oven

        1. re: janetms383

          I've baked mine on a turned over cookie sheet. I love the taste, but have had the same flatness in the results. Going to try again ... maybe you've inspired me to try again today.

          1. re: janetms383

            Your concerns are exactly why I like the CI version better. You place the dough on greased parchment and into a frying pan for the second rise, so even though the dough is so loose, it stays in the shape of the frying pan. Then you use the parchment as a sling to lift and drop it into the hot dutch oven. It works really well. I didn't want to buy any new equipement, so I just use my oval 5 qt and it works fine.

            For the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes, I used greased parchment on the inverted baking sheet and did have some spreading, but I still liked it better than the loaf pan. Isn't it fun to do all this trial and error :)

            1. re: janetms383

              i use parchment. i've not had any issue with the spreading or the flatness....but i deflate as little as possible when forming a pretty solid gluten cloak. i let it rise, slash the top, and bake. i spritz with a bit of water sometimes... but really, i almost always make baguette.

              1. re: eLizard

                eLizard, I'm surprised by your comment tht you don't have any issues with spreading. I used a rimmed cookie sheet, shaped the dough in an oval and let it set 1+ hours. The result would have been good for pizza. The loaf had NO shape AT ALL!

                1. re: janetms383

                  I don't really have any issues with spreading. and forgive me if this adds insult to injury....but i cut the yeast by half. the full amount is waaaayyyyy too yeasty for me. and if i use instant yeast, I even less than half. sorry! like i said, though, i most often make it on my couche. but the oven spring is pretty impressive.

          2. When you get the book, search its website for the corrections - there are a number of errors in the book, depending on which printing it is. Maybe a previous use has already done so, but if not, I would put a post-it note on the inside cover with the corrections or the suggestion to check for them on the website.

            My first time ever baking bread was with the Cooks Illustrated version mentioned by RosemaryHoney. I even bought the CI-recommended Best Buy 6.5 qt Tramontina Dutch Oven (Walmart $40) for that purpose (in case my smaller Dutchie wasn't large enough, and I DO use the big one for other things). The loaf was a spectacular success - great crisp crust and airy peasanty interior. I later read that it works in a variety of covered pots but since the high preheat and lid are what create the wonderful spring and crust I am glad I followed CI's recipe to the letter.

            You might also want to consider the super-simple one-pot method of Jacques Pepin's. The only challenge is that not everyone has an appropriate pot. The bread isn't very crusty or high but if you don't mind a long, narrower slice it is tasty and holds up well enough for sandwiches and toast:


            1. I hate this book. It is a charlatan riding on the crest of the wave of others. No secrets here. If you really want some baking insight, then buy Hamelman, Silverberg, Rheinhart, or lots of others.

              Remember that the dough is very wet and thus needs a form to hold it up. Kind of what has happened to my belly over the years, but I will try not to leave off with that image.

              So if you lay it on a sheet pan it will spread out reducing the final height and push.

              If you use some form of mold then the escaping gas will push the molded shape upwards and thus you will get height.

              The dutch oven is great because it is designed to go into the oven in the first place, but look around you kitchen and see if there is not some other device that could serve the same function (large sauce pan, Corningware casserole, etc. Avoid glass as that could break. maybe even a cake pan?

              I have been tempted to try one of my stainless steel mixing bowls, but so far, I have resisted.

              Or you could add more flour, stiffen up the dough and lay out on a sheet pan. But then you will have to learn shaping techniques.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Food Tyrant

                I don't know if I'd go so far as to call the author a charlatan, there are few people who are willing to put in the time and are capable of the level of attention that baking bread requires. I started out with the no-knead recipes and found them lacking in flavor, as I'm used to artisan breads from the bay area. For getting people to attempt bread baking at home I applaud the recent surge in popularity of the no knead and 5 minutes recipes.

                1. re: Food Tyrant

                  I have liked the NY Times no knead bread a little better. For me, it's had a more open crumb, less spongy, and a little better flavor. But I have very much liked this 5-minute-a-day bread. I have liked the crusts very much, quite good flavor and the fact that I can have fresh bread every day without a trip to the bakery by just taking a blob from the refrigerator, letting it rise and baking. This has been a boon to us. Fresh hot good bread without having to go out into the snow to buy fresh stuff.

                2. When I bake in a loaf pan, I roll out the dough to a rectangle with my hands. I made the end as long as the loaf pan. Then roll up and pinch the edge. Put in loaf pan and let rest until it's risen. Slice the top w/ a sharp edged tool (lame or razor is best but I've used s sharp fish knife). Then bake as you did. I get a nice rise.