5-Minute Artisan Bread

5-Minute Artisan Bread Recipe

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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  • 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.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

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.

Testers Choice
Larry Noak

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.

Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

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.

Testers Choice
Gail Rueckl

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.

Testers Choice
Kristen Kennedy

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 burnished crust. I baked 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.

Comments
Comments
  1. Rita J says:

    I have used this so often, I have used about 10 bags of flour making this bread. The taste is amazing! I prefer the baguette. Amazon sells the baguette pan. Very easy to make and almost addictive.

  2. sumara says:

    I have bread flour, can I substitute some of that for AP flour?

    • David Leite says:

      sumara, the authors are clear about when you can use bread flour–usually when the loaf needs to hold a particular shape. For this loaf, I think you’ll have better success if you use AP flour.

    • Hi Sumara, you can use your bread flour, but you’ll want to add 2 to 4 tablespoons of additional water to compensate for the additional protein in the bread flour. I recommend making the recipe with all-purpose once so you know what the consistency is supposed to feel like, then you can experiment with other flours. Here is some more information about using different types of flour.

      Thanks, Zoë

  3. Carla says:

    All of the recipes in this book are fantastic. If you end up with just a bit of dough leftover, make little balls and deep fry them…then toss with butter and garlic. SO good and they don’t get soggy either.

  4. I have been making Zoe and Jeff’s breads since their first book came out and the breads that I’m able to produce are amazing.

  5. Jamie says:

    This is the third Artisan Bread in 5 books I have and I love them. Bread for the lazy? No…. just super simple and perfect every loaf! And really the best Challah ever.

  6. Rita J says:

    While my youngest was still in school, I would have two loaves waiting fresh out of the oven when she got off the bus. She would stand by the kitchen island and eat half a loaf before she said hello! I still feel good every time I think about those days. Grown up and out of the house now. Zoe, you gave me and mine some great memories. Thank you!

    • Hi Rita, it is funny to think mine was sitting in a bouncy seat on the counter when I wrote that book and now he’s taller than me. ;) So pleased you enjoy the bread with your family!

      Cheers, Zoë

  7. My best childhood friend turned me onto this recipe; I turned my neighbor on to it; and we three make it all the time. I usually bake it in the oven on a half sheet pan with a roasting pan turned upside down over it to avoid using the water to create steam and find it works well. I have also baked it in a cast-iron Dutch oven with great success. I even baked a little ficelle in a Le Creuset cast iron terrine, but I would really need two terrines to do that regularly.

    I have recently found a baking “steel,” instead of a stone on which to bake bread and pizza, and if it works well, I will give you a heads up. It’s a great idea – should conduct heat superbly and will not break.

    I have the original Artisan Bread book and recently got the revised Kindle edition (1) so I have it with me all the time (you never know where you will be when the mood to bake a loaf of bread and show off strikes) and (2) I have a lonely Pullman Pan in my cupboard begging to be used for the first time.

    I consider this recipe to be a miracle.

    • David Leite says:

      Yes, and I consider Zöe and Jeff the his and hers Saints of Bread Baking (with all due respect to St. Elizabeth of Hungary.)

    • Thank you, Victoria. How wonderful that you and your friends all bake together. I am so curious what you think of the steel. I’ve yet to try it, but it seems like a great product. Do let me know what you think.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  8. Lola says:

    I use a similar recipe, but it has a higher water content, so it doesn’t need steam to make a crackly-crisp crust. This recipe is definitely going on my to-do list though!

  9. Hunddee says:

    Has anybody tried baking bread (specifically this bread as it is so easy and tasty) in a Roemer Topf? Would I still need that broiler pan of water after soaking the Topf in water overnight? Cover or not to cover, that is the question…… I’m going to try it anyway but it would be great if somebody could share what experience they have. Most people don’t have a clue what wonderful foods can be cooked in the RT, talk about the original one pot meal! Haven’t done any baking in it but would like to try. Thanks.

  10. Deborah says:

    I tried this bread recipe twice, although is is an easy recipe, I found it didn’t rise enough and it was very yeasty tasting. Threw it out.

  11. Miriam says:

    Wow, wow, wow. Best ever!!! Really 5 minutes tops to start the dough. Made 2 generous loaves, 1 regular, the second I stuck full of garlic cloves. In my book Zoe and Jeff get a Nobel prize for bread making. Next time will try with chopped dill, maybe fried onions. Can’t believe the quality and taste of the final product. Dipped it in chimichuri HEAVENLY!!! Can see myself using Costco bags of flour!!!

  12. Lola says:

    Sure!
    Will need:
    3 cups bread or all-purpose flour (sometimes I use multigrain)
    1/4 tsp instant yeast
    1 tsp table salt (or 3/4 Tbsp kosher salt)
    1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
    Cast iron pot, or baking pan with lid (I use an 8 in. square cake pan with aluminum foil for a lid. Pyrex will explode)

    Mix dry ingredients together, then add water and mix til combined. Dough will be a goopy shaggy mess. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft free place for 12-20 hours.

    2 hours before you want to bake, wet hands and turn dough out onto floured piece of parchment paper. Bring the edges of the dough together and turn over, and transfer the dough ball on top of the lightly floured parchment paper into another bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rest for those 2 hours.

    Half an hour before baking, set oven at 450F and place the baking pan or appropriate pot (think Le Creuset. Should be able to withstand very high temp) in the oven to preheat.

    After the dough has risen to your liking, take the pan/pot out of the oven and lift the parchment paper containing the dough right into your vessel (hassle-free transfer!). Place the lid and put back in the oven.

    Bake for 30 minutes, then take the lid off and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until bread is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped.

    Enjoy hearing that crust crackle!

  13. Sue says:

    This is truly revolutionary — I can’t wait to give it a try!

  14. Karen Huffman says:

    Love, love, LOVE this bread. It’s one of those recipes where I can’t decide if I should tell everyone I know about it, or selfishly keep it as my own little secret and just impress everyone who doesn’t make their own bread. It is simple, rustic and the crust comes out to crispy perfection every time! Thanks for another “keeper”.

  15. Hi David, greatly simple hurrah! could I incoroprate cumin or seeds into this or is it not possible since there is no kneading? suggestions? Thanks in advance

  16. Mica says:

    Can I substitute the a portion of the flour for wholemeal, rye or spey flour?
    will it work if I knead in some roasted sunflower seeds before shaping?
    thanks and hugs from Germany!
    Mica

  17. basak says:

    Hi, does this recipe work with rye or whole wheat flour??

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Basak, the author of the recipe recommends that you follow the Master Recipe as written until you get a feel for the proper consistency. This is because the hydration needed for bread storage will vary from flour to flour due to the gluten content. The higher the gluten, the more water that will be needed. Once you get a feel for the dough, then experiment with other flours.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      basak, it definitely can work with other flours, but the amounts are different. I suggest purchasing the book. You won’t be disappointed.

  18. The bread that I make from ABI5MAD is caraway rye. It is the bread that got these two “baking fools” together in the first place. I add caraway seed to the recipe in a greater amount and I add 1/4 cup of dry onion flakes to the dough. You need to make a couple to get the feel for the dough and how to handle it. Like everything in baking, technique is important and you have to work on the product to get it perfect. My daughter likes the larger bread for sandwiches and I make many appetizer size loaves for holidays where I need smaller slices for chopped liver or chopped herring salad.

  19. chris says:

    Um, where’s the interior crumb photo? Would like to see I’d you were able to achieve an open crumb…

  20. Patrick says:

    I haven’t tried this technique yet but I shall soon.Have you experimented with saving a portion of dough from a batch a few days old and and adding it to the next batch? I am wondering if you would then get the stronger flavor of an older batch right away with a 2 day old batch? Thank you

  21. Larry Noak says:

    Hi Patrick, I have never done this with The Zoe Francois bread but, I am certain that the flavor may be enhanced with a bit of “old dough” It certainly couldn’t hurt. This dough already rests in your refrigerator so old dough wouldn’t be necessary but it could be a matter of personal taste. This bread has a fine taste as written and I’m guessing you will be pleased.

  22. Gustavo A Pardo III says:

    Made this for the first time last night added fresh rosemary and roasted garlic. Simply put amazing recipe, very easy and delicious. Thank you very much this will recipe is one that will stay for good.

    Couldn’t add pics

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Gustavo, you bet. I love this recipe. And if you send me your photos at david@leitesculinaria.com, I’ll add them to your comment.

      • Gustavo A Pardo III says:

        We are making more tonight roasted jalapeño & aged white cheddar, asiago & smoked chicken, cranberry, walnut & goat cheese!!!! Thank u so mucho!!!

        5-Minute Artisan Bread

        • David Leite David Leite says:

          Gustavo, I love this photo for many reasons. 1.) The breads look incredible. 2.) I think it’s the first photo that shows a reader in it. and 3.) You look so freaking happy and proud!! I love the variations you’re dreaming up. Send more photos, please.

  23. nader says:

    Aloha from Maui. I have experimented with this bread. I also get excellent taste and results skipping the last step! I add garlic and rosemary to the recipe and only use bread flour. I put it in a silicone form, fill it about half way, and let it rise for 2 or 3 hours. When you see it has doubled put your oven on at 450. Maybe not as pretty, but really good!!!!

    Nader

  24. Lynn says:

    Wow, can’t wait too try this! If one wants to freeze 1/2 for use beyond the 14 days, can the dough be successfully frozen?

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Lynn, you can. Here’s What Zoë and Jeff say:

      “Yes, you can, just wrap it very well or seal it in airtight containers, anytime after the initial rise. Defrost overnight in the fridge when ready to use, then shape, rest, and bake as usual. How long to freeze is a bit controversial — our dough loses a bit of rising power over time in the freezer, and that’s especially true for enriched doughs like challah and brioche. Our testers were happy with lean dough frozen for four weeks (dough made without eggs, butter, or oil). For enriched doughs, we’d recommend shorter frozen storage times: challah, three weeks, and for brioche, two weeks. There’s no need to increase the yeast or make any other changes to dough that will be frozen.”

  25. Erica says:

    these look so yummy :) I wonder if they would work as bread bowls for chowder or chili…? I didn’t read over all the comments, but for the most part it sounds pretty simple, even for me (can’t bake to save my life). Thanks for such a simple, and apparently delicious bread recipe :) can’t wait to give it a try!!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Erica, I see no reason why not to use these as bread bowls, and actually, now that you you mention the notion, I have a mad crazy craving for a batch of New England Clam Chowder ladled in one of these boules! And yes, you’re correct, this recipe is insanely simple and not at all time-consuming. I really hope you like it, because most people I know who think they can’t bake simply haven’t had good recipes, and I suspect that’s what’s happened with you. So definitely give it a try and please let us know how it goes!

  26. jasper says:

    Made this substituting about 1/4 of the wheat flour with rye flour and half a bottle of brown beer for some of the water, no problem. Incredible bread!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Terrific to hear it, Jasper! Like the way you’re thinking. A lot. Really appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

  27. Tami says:

    I really would like to try this but I don’t have a baking stone or dutch oven. Would a baking sheet work? or is there another substitute?

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Tami, you can use a baking sheet, my friend Christine does. Just make sure it’s wicked hot. I’d suggest sprinkling a piece of parchment with cornmeal and putting your shaped loaf on top. Then slide the paper and bread onto the baking sheet. It makes it easier.

  28. Fatima says:

    I tried this recipe last night. How do I get a beautiful round loaf? I tried the shaping but I wasn’t too successful and my loaf didn’t turn out as beautiful and golden. It was more like a panini. It tasted great though. Any tips?

  29. Eunice Choo says:

    My dough doesn’t quite hold its shape and it’s really kinda sticky! Any tips?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Eunice, it sounds like you have too much liquid or not enough flour. How did you measure your ingredients?

      • Eunice Choo says:

        Using the same measuring for flour and water, and the scoop and sweep method as per instructions. Nevertheless, the bread came out from the oven with a crusty top and moist inside. Maybe I should try it out again to get the right texture. What do think? Trial and error, right?

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