This is a truly revolutionary approach to bread baking: Take the needed amount of dough from the refrigerator, shape it, leave it to rest, then pop it in the oven and let it bake while you’re preparing the rest of the meal. By not kneading the dough but instead mixing the dough in bulk, refrigerating it, and using it as needed over time, you’ll truly be able to make this bread in five minutes a day. Well, five minutes hands-on time (excluding resting and oven time).
This dough is made with nothing but all-purpose flour, yeast, salt, and water, and it’s the easiest thing to handle, shape, and bake. This white dough can be used to make a boule, baguette, bâtard, ciabatta, couronne, crusty white sandwich loaf, Pullman sandwich loaf, and soft dinner rolls. We chose an artisan free-form loaf that the French call a boule (pronounced “bool” and meaning “ball”) as the basic model for this bread.–Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
LC 5 Minutes Note
Okay, so the bread actually takes more than 5 minutes to bake. But 5 minutes hands-on time? Please. That’s nothing. Nothing short of a miracle, that is.
Special Equipment: Pizza peel (or a baking sheet turned upside down); baking stone
5-Minute Artisan Bread Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 5 H
- Four 1-pound loaves
- 3 cups (24 ounces) water, plus more for the broiler tray
- 1 tablespoon (.35 ounce) granulated 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 3 cups water slightly. It should feel just slightly warmer than body temperature, about 100°F (38°C). In the large bowl of a standing mixer or a 6-quart container with a lid, mix the yeast, water, and salt. Don’t worry about getting the yeast to dissolve. Add the flour all at once, then use a spoon or stand mixer to mix until the flour is completely incorporated into the blobby dough that forms. (If you’re hand-mixing the dough and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, just use very wet hands to press the mixture together.) Don’t knead the dough! It isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This is achieved in a matter of minutes, and will yield a dough that’s wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.
- 2. Loosely cover the container and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse or at least flattens on the top, about 2 hours. (Relax. You don’t need to monitor the doubling or tripling of its volume as you do with traditional recipes.)
- 3. After 2 hours, refrigerate the dough and use it within 14 days. If your container isn’t vented, allow the gases to escape by leaving the lid or cover open a crack for the first couple days in the fridge; after that you can seal it. (You can use the dough anytime after the initial 2-hour rise, although the refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature, so it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight before handling it. Once refrigerated, the dough will seem to have shrunk back upon itself as though it will never rise again—that’s normal. Whatever you do, do not punch down this dough. You’re trying to retain as much gas in the dough as possible, and punching it down knocks gas out and results in denser loaves.)
- 4. The day you wish to bake, dust a pizza peel or a baking sheet turned upside down with cornmeal or line it with parchment paper. Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough with a serrated knife or kitchen shears. Hold the dough in your hands and add more flour as needed so it doesn’t stick to your hands. (What you’re trying to do is surround the surface of the dough with flour so that it can be handled. Resist the temptation to get rid of all the stickiness by incorporating the flour into the dough.) Gently stretch the surface of the dough, tucking the ends underneath the ball and rotating it a quarter turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off, and that’s okay; it’s not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the ball of dough may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The properly shaped loaf will be smooth and cohesive and the entire shaping process should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds—don’t work the dough any longer or your loaves may be dense. Place the shaped ball of dough on the prepared pizza peel and let it rest for about 40 minutes. It doesn’t need to be covered. You may not see much rise during this period, but don’t fret. It will rise much more during baking.
- 5. Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat a baking stone on a middle rack for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Place an empty metal broiler tray on any rack that won’t interfere with the rising bread. (Do not use a glass pan as it’s likely to shatter.)
- 6. Dust the top of the raised loaf liberally with flour and, using a serrated bread knife, slash a 1/2-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern in the top. There’s no need to dust the flour off the loaf.
- 7. Place the tip of the peel in the oven a few inches beyond where you want the bread to land. Give the peel a few quick forward-and-back jiggles and then sharply pull it out from under the loaf. Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for a total of 20 to 35 minutes, until the crust is richly browned and firm to the touch. (Because the dough is so wet, there is little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust.) A perfectly baked loaf will audibly crackle, or “sing,” when initially exposed to room temperature. Let the loaf cool completely, preferably on a wire rack for the best flavor, texture, and slicing. The crust may initially soften, but will firm when cooled.
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Jan 13, 2014
Wow! What a gorgeous, beautifully colored, irresistible loaf of artisan bread! I wish I had made more loaves at the same time. The loaf had a chewy crust and a beautiful interior. The ingredients for the dough were fast and simple to assemble. I used a wooden spoon and didn't need a mixer. Make sure to use the scoop and sweep method to measure the flour. I placed the dough in a large, ungreased Tupperware with a lid and rested it on the counter for 2 hours. Then I placed the container in the refrigerator, loosely covered, and waited 2 days to use the soft, spongy, yeasty-smelling dough. (I stuck a sticky note on the outside of the container with the date, so I could keep up with the 14 days—not that I expect it to last that long!) Forming the boule and transferring it to my hot pizza stone was simple enough. I made a tic-tac-toe pattern on the top of the loaf and there was definitely a significant amount of flour on the loaf, but it didn't burn. My loaf baked for 25 to 30 minutes. We love the aroma of bread baking in the oven and we were all watching and waiting for the loaf to cool so it could be sliced. This was truly Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I can't wait to try some other variations on this.
Jan 13, 2014
I nearly ALWAYS have some of this dough in the fridge. This bread is a simple, four-ingredient dough. I used a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl and finished with my wet hands. The dough was very lumpy and sticky. After the 2-hour rise, the dough was full of holes, which are very noticeable throughout when using a glass bowl. After refrigerating the dough overnight, it was VERY easy to work with. So easy, in fact, I really didn't need to flour the surface before cutting a loaf-size amount from the dough. I made a couple of boules, and while they had a nice crumb, the crust was SPECTACULAR! This dough is perfect to have on hand for any occasion. If, like me, you love a crisp, crunchy bread, this recipe is for you. If you leave the dough in the fridge for at least 48 hours the crumb has many more holes. When you use it the next day the crumb is much tighter. I prefer mine with holes to capture all of the goodies that I apply.
Jan 13, 2014
This has to be the easiest and fastest way to make bread dough. It's also now my favorite way to make bread dough—and a decent loaf or boule of bread with little effort. I made 1 free-form boule and 1 loaf in a traditional loaf pan. I found after baking for 30 minutes I had a tanned loaf of bread, much like a round sourdough loaf. I found this loaf had a moist and dense crumb and a crunchy crust. As for the loaf pan one I found it didn't rise as much, but this may be due to my handling of the dough, but it was still delicious. This is certainly a way to "wow" on a weeknight, as the bread does it's own thing while you prep dinner. A great method for making bread. I used a 10-quart storage container with a lid. While the dough was rising, I left 1 corner open and then when I refrigerated it I closed that corner. It really is a good idea to open it the first few days to allow the extra gasses out. I find it's a good workout mixing the dough with a wooden spoon (about 6 or 7 minutes of mixing), but I've used a stand mixer in the past with other bread doughs for speed (about 3 or 4 minutes). Both work equally well. The resulting dough looks like wet pizza dough, sort of jelly- or pudding-like. When the work is done, all that remains is to use it within 14 days. I so far have not had this dough last a week. The only suggestion I would make is that you should check your yeast to make sure is is still viable before mixing your dough. I forgot to do that and my first batch failed to rise. I replaced my yeast with fresh and the second batch performed as it should.
Jan 13, 2014
This bread is absolutely delicious! I love the warm, earthy flavors, the spongy, chewy texture, and the crisp crust. Great recipe. I just used the last of the dough today that had been in the refrigerator. However, I don't have a pizza peel, so I used a small bread board with a handle. When I tried to put the dough on the pizza stone as instructed, it fell and lost its shape and I had to pick it up and re-round it. I took the bread out of the oven when it was 210°F and the top was richly browned. It took only about 20 minutes to bake the bread. Despite some of the frustrations I experienced, I found that this recipe was well worth the time.
Jan 13, 2014
I'm going to start off by saying that this dough is gorgeous and comes together without a hitch. I followed the directions precisely and used exactly 6 cups flour. It's a lovely, sticky dough that's a bit difficult to work with unless you're used to working with loose doughs. After allowing the dough to chill in the fridge for 2 days, I embarked on making the boule. I followed the directions precisely, and even without a pizza peel, I was able to put the formed boule onto the preheated pizza stone without changing the shape terribly much. Don't be scared to use a lot of flour to help you shape the dough—it won't get incorporated at all and it looks rather gorgeous against the bread for exactly 30 minutes and then placed it on a rack to cool. The resulting boule was golden brown, with a lovely crust, fantastic "chew," and wonderful flavor.
5-Minute Artisan Bread Recipe © 2013 Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. Photo © 2013 Stephen Scott Gross. All rights reserved.