The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Artisan Bread in 5

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Updated: 2 days 6 hours ago

Valentine’s Day Swirled Bread

February 8, 2016 - 3:18pm

I’ve just returned from an incredible week in Denver. I was there working with Craftsy to create another class, this time on show stopping cheesecakes (it will be out in a few weeks). I love working the with the Craftsy team. They work hard and laugh harder. We spent months developing the class concept, all the materials/recipes and then got together for 4 days of non-stop baking and filming. I like to think I’m a hard worker, but then I see the folks at Craftsy and I realize how much more a human can do in a single day when they work as a team. I loved it. Not only the work, but also the people. Writing books and blogging are two pretty solitary jobs, so having 5 days in the kitchen with their crew was a blast. It’s fun to watch other people create beautiful food. It is also fun to see my recipes come to life.

As we were prepping all the cheesecakes for my class, Victoria, the kitchen assistant extraordinaire, told me about a bread she bakes for her young daughter. Victoria helped me on my Craftsy bread class* and played with the recipe to create a rainbow of colors with it. Brilliant. I immediately thought of a Valentine’s Day Bread with swirls of pink and red.

*If you haven’t checked out our Artisan Bread in Minutes class on Craftsy, I am always so happy to have new bakers join the class. If you’re interested be sure to use this link to sign up, you’ll get $20 off. It makes a lovely Valentine’s Day Gift for the baker in your life.

Red Swirled Valentine’s Day Bread:

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1 tablespoon Platinum Red Star Yeast

1 tablespoon kosher salt

8 eggs

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more butter for the loaf pan

7 1/2 (1065g) cups all-purpose flour (measure with scoop and sweep)

Gel Paste Food Color

Egg white wash – egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water

Red Sprinkles for top

In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the water, Platinum yeast, salt, eggs, honey and butter together. Add the flour and mix on low until combined.

I like to use gel colors, because you get a more intense color and they are neater than the paste. But, if you have one you like to use, any will work. You are going to be adding color, then dividing the dough and adding more color, so you’ll end up with 4 bowls of dough in the end.

Start out with a little color, so the first batch is a pale pink.

Take one pound of the pink dough out, then add more color and mix in thoroughly. Remove another pound of this slightly darker dough. Repeat two more times.

You’ll end up with four bowls of dough, ranging from light pink to dark red.

Loosely cover the containers and let sit for about 2 hours so the dough can rise. You can use it right away or refrigerate the dough for up to 5 days.

When you are ready to make the bread, form each colored dough into a ball

and roll them into 1/8-inch-thick rectangles.

Repeat with the other colored doughs and then stack them on top of each other.

You want them all to be the same size and thickness.

Once they are all stacked, roll the dough out to be about 1/4-inch-thick.

Starting on the long end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log.

Cut the log in two equal pieces. The layers will be very distinct when you cut them.

Take one of the logs and cut it lengthwise, down the middle. wrap and refrigerate the other log for another loaf.

Twist the two pieces, keeping the cut side facing up.

You will end up with a twisted rope.

Place it into a well buttered Loaf Pan and brush with egg white wash. You don’t want to use the full egg or it will change the color of the bread too much when it is baked.

Let the loaf rest for about 90 minutes (45 if you are using non-refrigerated dough). Brush with more egg white wash and sprinkle with red sugar sprinkles.

Preheat oven to 325°F

Bake the loaf on the middle rack for about 45 to 50 minutes or until the top feels firm when pressed.

Remove the loaf and let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.

Turn the loaf out of the pan and let cool to room temperature.

Happy Valentine’s Day!



Stovetop Pizza with Spelt Dough

February 2, 2016 - 5:21am

With the holidays tucked safely behind, I’ve found myself trying to incorporate healthier foods into my family’s New Year diet. There were some subtle groans about the 100% whole wheat flour bagels and bread that showed up in our kitchen January 1st, foreshadowing things to come. After a few weeks of slowly letting go of the white flour, however, no one seems to mind quite as much anymore. Along with the whole wheat flour, I have also been adding spelt flour to many of our baked goods and breads. I’ve always loved the flavor of spelt, and find it easy to work with in most applications. I had forgotten about the Whole Grain Spelt Dough recipe in Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads, and it has been a welcome addition to dinner. My kids didn’t even notice the crust on their beloved stovetop pizza was slightly heartier, and gobbled down their slices without batting an eye.

100% Whole Grain Spelt Dough Recipe
from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, page 84

3 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon Red Star Platinum yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1/8 cup olive oil
8 cups whole grain spelt flour (I used the half-spelt variation, with 4 cups spelt flour and 4 cups all-purpose flour)

Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix the remaining dry ingredients using a spoon, a dough whisk, or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Cover, and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, about 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded container and use over the next 7 days.

On pizza day, start by heating an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stovetop (for a slightly large pizza, I used my braising pan here, which also worked well). Cut off a quarter-pound piece of dough and shape into a ball. Flatten the dough with your hands or a rolling pin, and roll into a 1/8 inch thick round.

Carefully transfer the dough to the preheat pan, and quickly spread olive oil or sauce over the dough, then the cheese and whatever other toppings you are using (I’ve used olive oil, roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and mozzarella cheese here). Cover the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes without lifting the lid (unless, of course, you smell scorching).

When your bottom crust is browned to your liking (check the bottom of the crust by peeking at a corner of it with a spatula), remove the lid, turn on the broiler, and toast the pizza for 1-2  minutes to get a crisp top crust. Remove the skillet from the oven, then take the pizza out of the pan with a spatula. Allow the pizza to cool slightly on a wire cooling rack. Cut into wedges and serve.

You might also be interested in our Mushroom Garlic Thyme Stovetop Pizza.

And don’t forget to check out our Craftsy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes class! Learn the secrets to making fresh, artisan-style breads in no time, from classic baguettes to braided loaves and even hearty sandwich breads.


Lesaffre Yeast Corp. (Red Star) provided yeast samples for recipe testing, and sponsors BreadIn5’s website and other promotional activities.


Caramel Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding

January 14, 2016 - 7:39am

Sometimes the best discoveries come from happy accidents. I made a pan of caramel cinnamon buns and I was the only one home to eat them. That in itself is no great tragedy, I took great pleasure in sitting down with a cup of coffee and a warm sticky bun in the perfection of solitude. But, the day went by and the kids were busy with sports, finals and all that kids are busy with, so I found myself with a pan of lovely, albeit slightly stale rolls. My boys would have happily devoured them as a midnight snack, but for my taste they were a bit stiff, after 12 hours on the counter. We talk about using stale bread for pudding in our books, that’s not news, but this recipe elevates a rather humble dessert to a special occasion by using sticky buns. I just put the sticky buns right back in the cake pan, with the caramel and all, then covered it with custard. I baked them and a new classic was born in my house. I served the pudding as dessert, but they are also perfect for breakfast or brunch. 

1 1/2 pounds brioche dough – I used the recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but you can use Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day or the Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day as well.

Filling and caramel for pan:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix together the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and zest in a bowl. Divide the sugar mixture in half.

Brush half the butter over the rolled out dough. Here is the technique for creating the cinnamon rolls.

Mix together the remaining sugar mixture and butter, then spread it over the bottom of a Cake Pan, 8-Inch x 3-Inch (if you don’t have one with such high sides, use a 9-inch pan). Place the rolls over this sugar butter mixture.

Bake at 350°F for about 25 to 30 minutes or until just set in the middle.

If you want to make the bread pudding you can skip this stage, but I wanted to show you what they look like inverted onto a plate. Pretty, pretty, pretty little sirens. Go ahead and eat one before you make the pudding, it just makes more room for the custard. If you’ve inverted the buns to sample one or two, then put them back into the pan, with the caramel, to make the pudding.

Pudding custard from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 

6 egg yolks

3 cups half-and-half

1/4 cup sugar ( I reduced the amount, since the rolls are sweet)

3 tablespoons rum

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon orange zest

Mix together the custard and pour it over the baked cinnamon sticky buns in the pan. Let them sit in the custard for at least 30 minutes, but you can refrigerate them overnight.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Bake until the custard is just set. 30-45+ minutes. The time will depend on the temperature of the custard and buns.

Serve them warm or room temperature.

I poured a bit of half-and-half over them, but you can top with ice cream and/or fruit.

The cup made by my pottery instructor Kevin Caufield.

Brioche Cake with Sugared Cranberries and Cream Cheese Frosting

December 21, 2015 - 7:53pm

With Christmas just around the corner, I’ve found I still don’t have the perfect morning-of breakfast. I have a secret wish to have that one amazing sweet bread my kids will make in their homes one day, for their own children on holiday mornings. After playing around with sugared cranberries and cream cheese frosting, I’ve decided they might be the keys to what I am searching for. The tart cranberries and tangy cheese pair well together, especially when perched on a sugar-swirled brioche cake. We all oohed and aahed on first bite.

Orange Brioche Cake with Sugared Cranberries and Cream Cheese Frosting

Sugared Cranberries
This will make more cranberries than needed. I like to make extra to add to other baking, or just to nibble on.
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup (297g) granulated sugar, plus 1 cup (198g) to coat
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
One 12-ounce bag (340g) fresh cranberries (about 3 1/2 cups)

Brioche Orange Cake
2 1/2 pounds Brioche Dough (page 300 of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup sugared cranberries

For the Sugared Cranberries
Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat to medium; let simmer until the mixture is reduced slightly, 5-7 minutes. Pour the vanilla into the sugar liquid and stir to combine.

Pour the cranberries into the sugar liquid and let them soak for at least 8 hours and up to 24.

After the cranberries have soaked, place the remaining 1 cup (198g) of sugar in a bowl. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Use a slotted spoon to remove some of the cranberries from the liquid, and coat them in the remaining sugar. Place them on the sheet pan and let them dry.

For the Cake

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Let the dough come to room temperature, and then roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Brush the entire surface of dough with the melted butter, and spread the orange-sugar mixture evenly over the butter. Scatter the cranberries over the dough, and gently press them down into it. Roll up the dough, starting at the long end.

Grease a 10-inch tube pan, and gently place the dough inside it, with the two ends touching.

Let the brioche rise in the pan for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the brioche for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown. Let the brioche cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then carefully remove it. Let it finish cooling on a wire rack.

When the cake is completely cool, top it with the cream cheese frosting (recipe follows) and sugared cranberries. Best eaten the same day it is made.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon triple sec
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 cup powdered sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter on medium until smooth. Add the cream cheese, and beat again until light. Scrape down the sides and add the triple sec, vanilla, and salt, and mix on low until combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy.

Christmas Stollen and 10 Bread Baking Gift Ideas

December 16, 2015 - 7:39am

Christmas Stollen is a great tradition this time of year. A sweet loaf that is studded with fruit, spiced with cardamom and a little treat of almond paste runs through it. Once it comes out of the oven we dust it with a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar to look like the snow outside. If there is any left the next day it makes amazing French toast. This is a loaf that also makes a great gift for the holidays.

Speaking of gifts for the bakers on your list, here are 10 great ideas for those who love to bake and folks who want to learn how.

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – A perfect place for both experienced bakers and new comers to start. We also have a GF version: Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Bread Baking Craftsy Class – An in depth video class that will guide you through the mixing, shaping and baking of our Master recipe. We’ll make dozens of breads, including everything from a boule to sticky buns. You’ll see our tips for shaping properly and getting the best results from all your breads, no matter which dough you use. If you buy the class through our site you’ll get $20 off the price of the class. Hope you’ll join us.

More gift ideas at the end of the post.

100% white whole wheat Christmas Stollen from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Makes enough for three 1 1/2 pound loaves

6 cups White Whole Wheat Flour

1 tablespoon granulated Red Star Baking Yeast

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom

1/4 cup Vital Wheat Gluten

2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (see the book for other alternatives)

1/2 cup honey

4 large eggs

1/4 cup brandy (OJ or black tea can be substituted)

1 1/2 cups finely chopped dried and/or candied fruit (you choose your favorites. I used cherries, raisins, craisins, and  apricots.)

1/2 cup Almond Paste, per loaf

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

Confectioners’ sugar for the top

Mixing the dough: Dump the flour, yeast, salt, cardamom, and vital wheat gluten in a 6-Quart Round Food-Storage Container with Lid and stir them together with a spoon or dough whisk. Add the water, butter, honey, eggs, brandy and dried fruit, mix until well incorporated. No kneading! Cover loosely and let stand on the counter for 2 hours. This dough will be sticky, but much easier to handle after it has been refrigerated for several hours. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 days or frozen for 2 weeks.

For a version that is a little more decadent, you can use the Brioche Dough (page 189, ABin5) and add the cardamom, the dried fruit fruit and replace 1/4 of the water for the brandy.

On baking day take a 1 1/2 pound (small cantaloupe-size) piece of dough from the bucket.

Using plenty of flour roll out the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick oval. Form the 1/2 cup almond paste into a rope and lay it onto the dough about a 1/3 of the way from the end.

Fold the dough over the almond paste…

in thirds, so that it forms an S-shape…

when you look at it from the end.

Place the loaf on a Sheet Pan with parchment or a Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat and loosely cover with plastic and let it rest for 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F degree, with rack in the middle of the oven.

Once it has rested brush with the egg wash and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the loaf cool for about 20 minutes and then Sprinkle it with confections’ sugar…

Until it is completely covered and looks like snow!

Here are our top 10 gift recommendations for getting anyone on your holiday list started with bread baking:

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – A perfect place for both experienced bakers and new comers to start. We also have a GF version: Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Baking Revolution Continues with 90 New, Delicious and Easy Recipes Made with Gluten-Free Flours

Bread Baking Craftsy Class – An in depth video class that will guide you through the mixing, shaping and baking of our Master recipe. We’ll make dozens of breads, including everything from a basic boule to sweet sticky buns. You’ll see our tips for shaping properly and getting the best results from all your breads, no matter which dough you use. If you buy the class through our site you’ll get $20 off the price of the class. Hope you’ll join us.

6-Quart Round Storage Container – the most convenient container to mix and store your dough.

Danish Dough Whisk – The coolest tool you’ll have in your kitchen. It makes mixing our dough even easier.

Scissors – long bladed shears are great for cutting dough from the bucket and for cutting loaves like the epi.

Oven Thermometer – check to make sure your oven is running true to temp with an independent thermometer.

Baking Stone– this classic stone is tried and true, but quite thick, so requires a longer preheat or a thin Rectangular Baking Stone – this stone is thinner, so it heats up quickly and can be used on the grill.

Baking Steel – this baking surface heats up quickly and retains great heat

Pizza Peel– this is perfect for sliding pizzas and breads onto the hot stone.

Serrated Bread Knife – a sharp bread knife is key to cutting a crisp loaf of bread.

Combine any of these with a bag of all-purpose flour and Red Star Yeast and they will be off and baking.

Happy Holidays.

The winner of our Emile Henry Bread Loaf Baker, Red Star Yeast Platinum Yeast and the copy of our book is Michele. Thank you all for the wonderful comments.