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Q & A with Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

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Q & A with Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

artisan bread in 5

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François are the co-authors of the new book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. They've been kind enough to take a few hours out of their busy schedules and answer a few questions I had about the book. and to respond to community member questions about the recipes or techniques found in the new book.

Floyd: I was surprised by the breadth and depth of the recipes in this book. I guess I expected something like the Sullivan Street no-knead technique applied to a couple of dozen other recipes and quickly rushed out the door by the publisher, since that is largely how I've seen other folks try to capitalize on this trend online. But I gather from your introduction that you two were working on this technique well before no-knead phenomenon took off, no?

Zoë: The New York Times article Bittman wrote about Lahey's bread came out when we were nearly done with our manuscript. We were very nervous he had beaten us to this concept, wet no-knead dough that had a long rest. We realized quickly that our method took the concept much further, that we had something more to offer than just the wet dough. We weren't sure if Lahey was working on a book and if there was room in the bread book market for two, with a fairly similar message. After a while we came to understand what a gift Bittman and Lahey had given us. They really got people excited about baking again, this on the heels of the Atkins craze.

Floyd: Heh. Yeah, the Bittman article in my mind marks the official end of the Aktins era.

Zoë: I honestly don't think that so many people would have dared try our method had he not primed the way. He legitimized what we were doing for people, we didn't have to convince anyone that it would work. Well almost everyone got it! Having said that, once people try our method they will quickly recognize that it is quite different than Lahey's.

Our dough is wet, but not as wet. We did this on purpose so that first time bakers could handle the dough without being frustrated. We also wanted to offer a variety of bread styles and traditional shapes, such as the pan d'epi, which couldn't be done with a dough any wetter than ours. The bread made with our dough can certainly be baked in a dutch oven or a cloche but it can also be made on a pizza stone and slashed to have a really beautiful and finished appearance.

chocolate brioche
Photo: Mark Luinenburg

Jeff: Yes, our innovation was being developed long before the current no-knead craze began. What differentiates our particular no-knead approach is that we tested all our recipes with dough intended for storage, for as long as 14 days. No other book has ever looked at that, and this part of our book was being worked out by 1990, long before either of us knew that there might be a book in it! We didn't start trying to turn all this into a book until 2003, but that was still long before Bittman's Times article appeared.

As Zoë says, we have little in common with the Lahey/Bittman approach except that our dough is wet and isn't kneaded; neither were new concepts. What's new is trying to store dough, and adapting that approach to the broad universe of baked goods from the many traditions that make up the Western baking menu. No other book or method that we know of has ever explored the possibility of long-term dough storage, and that's what opens up enormous possibilities for busy home bakers. So we're glad to have surprised you with some variety!

Zoë: We also have several sweet breads that are based on the brioche dough, such as sticky pecan caramel rolls and braided pastries which couldn't be done with the other method.

Floyd: Yes, I made your chocolate brioche (recipe) last weekend and it was excellent, much better than any other brioche I've made!

Zoë: Floyd this is music to my ears! I can live out the rest of my days and know that I contributed something worthwhile to this world.

chocolate brioche

I love brioche. I used to make it for the restaurants I worked in when I first left culinary school. My first boss came up with some crazy sandwich that involved individual brioche buns. It was a nightmare. They had to be watched and babied or the whole batch would explode or implode, depending on what else was going on in the kitchen and how warm it was that day. Our proof box was a rolling rack with a plastic bag over it. Not exactly a precise environment. It was literally the most finicky recipe we worked with. When I discovered that this concept of no-kneading and storing the dough would work for Brioche I was personally amazed and thrilled. It was my personal triumph with this project! I'd only wished that it had occurred to me a decade earlier!

With the brioche recipe came the other sweet breads and dessert pastries. I'm a pastry chef by training so once I was let loose I just couldn't help but add lemon curd, almond cream and chocolate to various recipes. It was just plain old FUN!

Jeff: Zoë is a pastry genius and I am a lucky, lucky amateur hack to have gotten a chance to write a book with her. She's taught me everything I know about fine baking!

Floyd: On my first try, I came up with a hydration of about 65% on the master recipe (recipe). Does that sound about right? It was less wet than what I expected, but my flour may have been compacted a bit too tight. I think if I make it again I'd be tempted to make it a little bit wetter.

Zoë: We struggled with using cup measures vs. weights, but in the end we decided on cups because most home bakers still measure that way. Unfortunately it means that some people are going to have the same experience that you did and end up with a dry batch or two. We purposely avoid talking about hydration levels and other lingo that might be intimidating for people who have never baked bread. Since your readers are clearly accomplished bakers and are most likely weighing their ingredients we will give you the break down. Our scoop and sweep method of measuring gives us a (5 oz) cup of unbleached all-purpose flour. The total weight of the master recipe is 2 pounds of flour. Using 3 cups of water we figure the hydration is about 75-78%.

If you use a brand of flour that has a higher protein level, such as King Arthur, we suggest that the hydration be closer to 81-83%.

Jeff: 65% hydration just isn't wet enough for long-term storage. We found that below some hydration threshold, the gradually diminishing gas content in the bread just didn't support a nice rise after the first few days. It seems that slack dough offers less resistance to bubble expansion (at least, that is how we explain what our experiments showed). The threshold seems to be around 75-78%; any drier than that and the batch doesn't store very well.

Floyd: I made my first batch of the master recipe on my baking day last weekend. And, I must admit, I was a bit let down. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as what I would have baked otherwise on my baking day.

The following day we took a trip up the mountain to play in the snow. When we got back, cold and tired, I quickly shaped and let rise the second half of the dough and baked it to accompany a pot of soup we reheated. The second batch came out much better, I think partially because I let it rise longer (more like 90 minutes instead of a minimum 40), partially because it had more time to ferment, and partially because nothing hits the spot like a home cooked meal after a busy day like that.

Jeff: 40 minutes is the minimum time to allow the dough to rise. If the ambient temperature of your house is cool, say below 65 degrees then it is a good idea to allow the bread to rise longer. If you have the patience, the longer and slower the rise the better. But we wanted people to be able to get a fresh loaf of bread to the table after working all day, so we found that 40 minutes for a 1 pound loaf was quite doable and produced a great loaf of bread.

master recipe

Floyd: Gotcha. Well, what clicked for me while eating the second batch was that, fine, an experienced baker like myself can put in time and effort and make a better loaf of bread: making real artisan bread is an art. But a less experienced or busy baker can spend next to no time using your technique and still turn out a remarkably good loaf of bread, even on a work night or after a day in the snow.

Zoë: I had the same thought when we first started to test the recipes. I figured it didn't really count that I could make them because I'd gone to school to study this stuff. It also didn't count that Jeff was able to produce gorgeous bread because he had been doing it for 20+ years. We needed to give it to rank beginners, those who not only didn't bake but were afraid of it. My mom was my first tester. I figured if she could do it we were really on to something. A week went by after I sent her the recipe and she still wouldn't try it and then she finally did. She was hysterically laughing and said "you would never believe the beautiful loaf of bread I just pulled out of my oven!" then I knew it would work. She has been baking almost daily for 1 1/2 years now!

Jeff: Floyd's experience (better bread once the batch starts to age) jibes with that of our readers, especially the ones with lots of experience in the traditional method. Unless our batches age a few days to mature and develop fermentation by-products, experienced bakers familiar with sponge and levain methods may miss the complex flavors they love. On the other hand, we've been very successful with experienced bakers when we can convince them to hold onto the batch, and maybe even avoid baking at all on the same day as the batch was mixed. All this feedback comes from the blogosphere; I don't know how anyone used to get feedback from readers before the Web changed everything. Did people actually write letters? With a quill pen?

Floyd: Amazing, isn't it? I know many of us here on that site still marvel at how quickly we can help each other, even getting tips between the time a loaf is shaped and when it is put in the oven.

Speaking of the site, a couple of the misconceptions I strive to overcome on the site and that I think you two do a good job refuting are that: 1) bread baking is by definition difficult, and that 2) you have to follow recipes precisely to bake a good loaf. I am constantly amazed at how resilient most dough are and how much flexibility the baker has. Yes, from beginning to end it is a long process, but there are any number of points along the way where you can pause the process so that it fits your schedule. If anything, most breads improve from being refrigerated or folded so that it has to rise again. And rarely does letting loaf rise 90 minutes instead of 75 cause major problems, so you should relax and enjoy yourself while baking. Modify the recipe to fit your schedule rather modifying your schedule to fit the recipe.

Zoë: Floyd, your approach is a breath of fresh air for serious bakers, because even serious bakers struggle with the time constraints of modern life: jobs, friends, families, and running households. Your site rejects the idea that it all has to be absolutely perfect and restaurant-ready.

Floyd: Ha! You can say that again. Some of the breads I've posted, even in my lessons, are ridiculously ugly.

Zoë: Right, but that's not what home cooking is about. Home cooking is a practical art that should bring joy into everyday life, not be reserved for special occasions. That's all we were trying to do with this book.

Floyd: Indeed. And your technique is like the 80-20 rule applied to baking: you can get 80% of the way to making great bread with this approach using 20% or less of the effort of the traditional methods.

Jeff: We are hoping that this method will get people who have been intimidated by bread baking back in the kitchen. Once they are comfortable baking this bread they might have the confidence to try some of the more traditional techniques and put in that extra 80% effort. That would be very exciting! For others it is just an issue of time and this method produces a really great bread with very little time commitment.

Floyd: I baked your rye (recipe) Friday and Saturday and enjoyed it very much, Jeff. I used Bob's rye flour. It came out nice and light and made great sandwiches the next day.

Jeff: I sweated over that rye bread. This was the bread that got me obsessed with yeast baking in the first place, and I wanted it to be great. The struggle was, how much rye? Because I knew that most of our audience would not seek out true medium rye (lower in bran), I kept the fraction of rye relatively low.

artisan bread in 5

Most of us in the U.S. will have easy access to Bob's Red Mill rye products, and Hodgson Mill Rye (Pillsbury seems to have stopped distributing their's nationally). Bob's and Hodgson are tasty products, but very high in bran, which absorbs lots of water and yields a result that's less "custardy" than classic sour ryes. In order to get "custard" with the high-bran products, I had to push the hydration to the point where novice testers were having trouble shaping it and sliding it off the peel. Since I knew the high-bran products are what our readers would generally use, I kept the rye fraction relatively low, and the reception has been great.

The best ryes are made with true "medium" rye, and the only place to get it has been King Arthur Flour by mail order. If you have medium rye, by all means, experiment with pushing the rye fraction. At some point, you'll find that the rise isn't great (only wheat flour contains enough gluten to support great rise), and you may want to add a little vital wheat gluten (VWG).

But you can see why I didn't want to start with this for novice bakers. Monkeying with VWG takes some experience.

Floyd: Indeed.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is available now from St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books. The website for the book is artisanbreadin5.com.

Update: This thread is now closed. Thank you Jeff and Zoë for taking the time to answer out questions!

Comments

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Zoe and Jeff,

I'll start off by saying how much I appreciate the fact that you have undertaken this project. Here in America we have been blitzed with marshmallow bread and fast food for so long that we are on the brink of losing the basic skills to produce many of the wonderful foods our parents and grandparents grew up with. I'm nearly 60 and I'm the only person in our circle of friends who makes an attempt at Artisan breads. A few do sweet breads and treats but it is a shame so many people think baking is to difficult.

I'll confess I haven't bought your book yet, but I plan to. I have fiddled around with the master formula and let a batch ripen in the fridge for 5 days before I started to take from the bucket. The first batch I needed bread so I couldn't resist and I baked it in the same day. For me, baking is a mind set. Once I got to the point I could make a few different types of bread without digging out a book or a recipe from here, It was riding a bike. However, I have failed to get anyone in my family or any friends to join me in the pursuit of good bread. So, your timing is good.

My first project is to gift your book to my 83 year old father who has expressed a mild interest in my new baking hobby. He is recently widowed and is finding he likes to cook for the first time. I need a book that I can refer to and send him a copy so he can follow along. Your book sounds like the perfect way to get him started experimenting with flour. I know if I sent him the BBA his eyes would glass over. He needs a path to victory that won't be intimidating.

So, thanks for giving me the tool to spread the love, so to speak. I'd love to ask you some deep question about the formulas but I should get my hands on a copy of the book first. From Floyd's comments it sounds like you have shared some very interesting breads that will be fun to learn. I have no experience with sweet breads at all but we all love to eat them so it's about time to take the plunge.

Good luck with the book, I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Eric from Milwaukee

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

Whole Wheat Sandwich BreadWhole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Jeff & Zoe,

This is a photo of a loaf that I started on Thursday and baked today from the recipe in your book.  My wife likes it a lot, and I get better rise from this recipe than any other whole wheat bread recipe that I have tried.

My question is about baking a loaf from the master recipe.  I find that they tend to end up excessively moist in the center.  I am wondering if 40 minutes is too short a time between removing the dough from the refirgerator and putting the shaped loaf in the preheated oven?  Maybe they are still too cold inside.

Colin

Montebello, California

 

jhertz10's picture
jhertz10

Hi Colin:

Thanks for trying our stuff, glad you had a good experience with the Whole Wheat Sandwich.  The Master Recipe (the basic white loaf) was test-baked with one-pound loaves, free form.  Most people make them bigger than that, and as we say in the book, if you do, you need to bake for longer.  A two-pound loaf will probably need 30% more baking.  Otherwise the center will be overly damp. 

But before you start weighing your loaves, check your oven temperature; that's the usual problem for underbaking on the inside.  Could be too hot (the outside browns nicely before the inside's done), or too cold (just not getting done). 

This should be easy to fix!  It's interesting that you had no trouble with the WW, which is a more challenging recipe in general. 

Jeff Hertzberg

jhertz10's picture
jhertz10

Eric:  Let us know how you make out with the web-based versions of our recipes.  It's not a bad way to sample our stuff before making a committment. 

Jeff

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jeff/Zoe,
Do you have any advice on baking with no preheat and or no stone? Many here have abandoned the stone as a waste of energy with little lost in crust appearance. Personally I usually bake on parchment and an aluminum sheet pan in a just barely preheated oven.

Eric

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi Eric,

This is interesting. I have baked our bread with no stone and found the only difference was that the crust was a bit thicker than I liked. I find the stone helps to produce a thinner, crisper crust. This too is true when the bread is thrown into a cool oven and does its rise as the oven heats up. The crust just gets thicker and harder than it will if you use a stone.

The parchment trick is now one of my favorites. I use it all the time, but directly on the stone.

Zoë

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I baked another loaf of the master recipe tonight. This one had been in the fridge since last weekend and was more in the range of 75% hydration.

When I opened the container it had a really hoochy, alcoholic smell. I was afraid that was going to give it an off taste, but I guess that must have all baked off because it tasted fine.

Pretty little blisters on the crust and much more of the nuttiness I expect in a well-fermented dough.

Nice crumb on the ends! The center was tighter and still a bit too moist, most likely because the dough was still not up to room temperature when I put it in the oven even though it had been out for a couple of hours. And, yes, I was baking a slightly larger loaf, around a pound and a half.

I'm tempted next time to try flattening the dough out a bit to let it warm up for an hour or so before shaping it for a final rise. Your thoughts?

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Hi Jeff and Zoe. 

I don't have your book yet, but it is on my list. I'm curious about something. I have my first batch of your Master Recipe on the counter right now.  Say I wanted to use part of the dough for a cheese and olive bread. Could I cut off a chunk of the dough, gently knead in my additions, let it rise and bake?  How would this extra knead and rise affect the quality?

jhertz10's picture
jhertz10

Floyd:  What you're suggesting will definitely work, but the only suggestion I'd have is stretch the loaf laterally to flatten it rather than punching it down... our usual caution about knocking the gas out of stored dough.  If you stretch, you're changing the shape of the gas bubbles (and compressing) rather than deflating them.  We do what you're suggesting with the ciabatta (page 37).  Hey, I think that picture looks great but yeah, OK, OK, the bottom half looks a little tight.

KipperCat:  The technique you suggest is all over our book.  We tend to flatten and roll in the additions to avoid kneading, but my guess is that your approach will be equivalent (kneading in the additions).  With our method, you want a really long rest after making additions, at least an hour.

Jeff

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Agreed that the crumb in this photo is lovely. But this was only the second or third slice into the loaf, about an inch in. By the time I got to the center of the loaf, the crumb was *much* tighter throughout, tighter than what is on the bottom here.

Good idea, to stretch rather than punch down. Rather than a round, I might try a longer, thinner loaf next time.

Thanks for the feedback!

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Thanks Jeff.  As you know, that makes the master dough formula much more versatile - especially for a small household.  I'm embarassed to admit that even though I browsed the book on Amazon I didn't notice this.

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi Eric,

I really look forward to hearing more about your experience with the bread and especially how your father takes to it! My mom and I bake long distance together. I'd say we talk about what we are baking once a day. It has been a great experience. And no, she is NOT a baker, or wasn't before this!

Have fun and keep us posted.

Zoë

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Zoe,

I called my Dad last night and told him I am shipping him a book about home baking that I believe he can do with me. I told him about my thoughts and asked him to join me in this experiment. He sounded interested in the project so now we are waiting for our boxes from Amazon! My father does not have a computer so we don't have email as an option but I think I'll take some pictures to supplement your pictures and send him a CD he can play in the DVD player and maybe some video.

This will be fun. I don't need an excuse to call my Dad but we have been sharing recipes lately so this will fit right in.  I'll let you know how it goes.

He asked me to send him a loaf of my Jewish Rye so I think I'll bake a hunk of the mix from your posting and ship it tomorrow.

Eric

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi. We have a few videos of us mixing up the dough, forming, slashing and baking the bread. My favorite one is from the Chicago Tribune and you can find it on our website. www.artisanbreadinfive.com on the video page. I'm just not sure how you can reproduce it for your dad?

Zoë

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Hi Eric, any chance your Dad could visit his local library?  The librarian there could show him how to pull up the online videos.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I just sliced open the first attempt at your Deli Rye as posted above. I followed the recipe closely except for just a few small deviations. Also I took notes and converted everything to grams so I would be able to make intelligent changes based on my own experience. I used Gold Medal Harvest King which is my standard AP flour. I used Hodgson Mills Rye. I did add 50g of my rye starter to the ingredients list but otherwise I didn't alter the recipe.

This started yesterday morning and was mixed with a dough whisk until all the flour was incorporated. About 26 hours later I marked the dough and cut two 430 gram hunks off. I was making an effort to not handle the dough any more than necessary to get it onto the lightly floured pie plate I was using to measure with and then onto the counter. I gently rolled some surface tension into the log shape you see in the picture. One careful rolling shape and onto the parchment. Once both the logs were on the paper I mixed the cold wash and brushed the surface followed by sprinkling the caraway seeds. I haven't applied the cornstarch wash cold before and I questioned if it would work without boiling the water but there is no mention of the boiling and whisking in of the cornstarch so I did it cold. The seeds stayed on as you can see.

After 1:45 of bench time, I turned the oven to 450 to preheat. after the oven was stable at 450F and my 2 hour timer went off, I loaded the bread on the aluminum sheet pan and poured 1/2 cup of boiling water in my steam pan in the bottom and blocked the vent of my electric oven for 15 minutes. NOTE: NEVER EVER DO THIS WITH GAS. No stone was used for this bake, just the dough on a cold pan in a hot oven. The total time the oven was on was less than 45 minutes.

I set my bake timer at 25 minutes and at that time I checked the internal temperature from the underside with a quick reading gauge. I was a little surprised that I was already at 203F which is plenty for the way I like rye blends, so I removed the bread to the rack.

My wife thought the seeds on the outside were a little over the top and were hard on her dental work. My usual NY style rye has kosher salt sprinkled on the top after the bake and that's what she is used to.

I like the flavor and will enjoy baking the remaining 2 loaves next week. I may try baking at a slightly lower temperature for the next time.
Eric

Finished Rye
Finished Rye
Rye Crumb
Rye Crumb
Mixed and fermented 26 hours
Mixed and fermented 26 hours
430 G scaled
430 G scaled
Shaped-washed and seeded
Shaped-washed and seeded
Low tech proofing for 2 hours
Low tech proofing for 2 hours

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi Eric, your bread looks fantastic and the crust looks thin and crispy! I'm going to go back and try baking mine on a sheet tray and see how I like the results! Thanks for the idea.

I hope your dad enjoys his rye!

Zoe

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Zoe for your kind words,
I think the easier you can make it to turn out great bread the more people will try. I'm sure there are minor improvements using a stone or a brick oven for that matter. Everybody has a sheet pan and you can always get a roll of parchment. The single hardest thing to do for a new baker is move the proofed dough to the stone. With the pan method and parchment it really couldn't get any easier and more fool proof.

Eric

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Yes, Eric I think you are absolutely right! That was exactly our intention, to take all of the intimidating steps out of baking without sacrificing quality! So if you can simplify it even more and get great results, even better!!!!

How are you getting the steam in your oven?

Zoë

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I have tried all kinds of steam methods from portable steam generators to cast iron pans. I have learned that at least for my situation, the very best I can do is blow hot steam into a stainless steel cover when baking on a stone. That said, it's a lot of trouble to get all the items ready and limiting to only bake things that fit under my cover (which looks like an overturned steam table deep pan BTW with a hole for the steam). Also as I have already said, I try not to use the stone unless I'm baking multiple sessions.

These days I use an old 8x13 steel baking pan with a split fire brick in the bottom. The pan is thin enough it recovers quickly after hot water is poured in and the brick or stones stays hot and boils the water for a while making a very moist environment. There has been much discussion about the physics involved and heat loss or consumption converting water/ice cubes to steam. For my money I boil a cup of water in the microwave, quickly toss it in the hot pan and close the door. The vent in my electric oven is right in the front which I block with a towel for 12-15 minutes. By then the water is usually evaporated and I open the door to release the humid air. I never ever open the door to spritz the dough or oven walls in the first few minutes as is widely suggested. IMHO that's counter productive to achieving a good spring and good color.

If I have a loaf that has a thick skin from drying in a banneton or couch, I might spray the surface of the dough just before baking to soften it up a little. Those big handles the European bakers get are from not softening the skin before the load the brick ovens.

One other thing worth mentioning is the "Magic Bowl". One of our really talented bakers here (Susan from San Diego) showed us all how to bake under a glass or SS bowl. Actually this might be a great concept for your smaller concept daily breads. Susan covers the boule with a 4 liter glass bowl for the first 15 minutes or so then carefully removes it when you see the first hint of browning. It's really fun to watch the spring take place through the bowl. Once you know about how long it takes, you can switch to a SS bowl which is easier to manage. The interesting thing is that the moisture in the dough steams the inside of the chamber and you get the nicest glossy crusts with huge spring, and no need for steam at all. Since then people here have tried all sorts of turkey roasters and various pans that will suit their need with great success. Here is a link to the thread--
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4744/first-epi-and-baguette#comment-24025

Eric

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Eric,

Thank you for this, it gives me at least a week's worth of experiments!

If you get a chance would you take a picture of your pan set up with the split fire brick?

Thanks! Zoë

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi Colin,

I think that the resting time should be a range. As I am talking to people and listening to their experiences I've come to realize that 40 minutes is good for a very small loaf in a rather warm kitchen. We wanted people to know that they could have a very nice loaf of bread in a really short amount of time. This is true, but if you have the patience and desire to let the dough rest for a longer time I think you will be happier with the crumb. It certainly won't hurt to allow the dough to rest longer, we just wanted people to know that it isn't absolutely necessary.

I have been playing with a new method of resting the dough. I form it at night into the shape I want and refrigerate the dough covered loosely with plastic. In the morning I preheat the oven to 450 with the stone on the center rack, slash the cold dough and bake it cold. It has had a rise entirely in the refrigerator and it works beautifully! The crust is nice, the crumb is full of nice big holes throughout the loaf. It works for loaf breads as well. you still want to handle the dough gently. Because it is rising so slowly it really has time to establish nice hole structure. Be warned that it will spread out, but not rise much while resting. It still has great oven spring.

Thanks, Zoë

 

colinwhipple's picture
colinwhipple

I will try the overnight method.  I like the idea of baking a small loaf first thing in the morning.

Colin 

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi Floyd,

I find if you leave the container slightly opened, just a crack, the gases don't build up and you won't have that hoochy smell.

Your loaf looks great but I too have had that experience of the middle being denser than the ends. I find it is a matter of over handling it while shaping and tucking the ends up into the dough. I find I am now shaping for less and less time (about 20 seconds) and trying not to tuck in the ends, but leave them loose under the loaf!

Try the cold rise that I described to Colin and see what you think??? It was a technique that one of our readers suggested and it seems to be working really well. I've been learning so much from the experiences of others. Thank you for providing us with an opportunity to hear from your readers!

 Thanks, Zoë

L_M's picture
L_M

Hi Zoe and Jeff,

I've made your master recipe several times already, and I'm very happy with the whole idea and the results! It's a wonderful way to have fresh bread whenever you want without too much planning ahead :-)

Last night I mixed up a batch of the rye and I plan on baking it tomorrow, so I'm excited to taste this as well.

I have one question in about the general method - is it really necessary to let the dough completely rise and deflate at room temp before placing it in the fridge? When I made the master recipe before, I didn't have time to wait so I placed it straight away in the fridge after mixing up the dough. The dough must have been warm and active enough that it went through the rise and deflate process over a period of 1 - 2 days in the fridge, so that led me to wondering whether there is an advantage having the initial rise at room temp?

Just a note to anyone that had tighter crumb in the center - I found that if I wait til the whole loaf is wobbly ( no matter what size or temperature the dough is, or how long it takes) before it gets baked, then the loaf has an airy crumb throughout.

L_M

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi L_M,

No, your instinct was right you do not have to let it rise at room temperature if you intend to refrigerate it for at least 12 hours before baking. I've mixed up a batch before bed and just throw the whole bucket directly into the fridge with no room temp rise. It has grown overnight and is just great to use.

Your "wobbly" loaf test before baking is very interesting. I'll have to try that and see how it works for me. It is challenging, especially for experienced bakers, not to over work this dough, which results in a dense crumb, so any trick to getting a really open texture is welcome! Thanks, Zoë

raisdbywolvz's picture
raisdbywolvz

Hi Jeff and Zoe. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions.

I'm using KA AP flour, weighing out 2 lbs on the scale, and I finally got that I should be adding more water (I got it just now, reading through this thread), so this may answer some of my questions, but even so, I'm going to ask them anyway.

Up above, you talked about the bread producing a thinner, crispier crust on a stone. I've been using a stone with cornmeal (on the middle shelf) from the beginning, and I bought an oven thermometer to make sure I'm baking at 450 (my oven was over 50 degrees on the cool side), but even so, my crusts come out much thicker and harder than I think they should. The crumb is nice, but the crust is very hard. The temperature in my kitchen is about 68 degrees. I've been letting the shaped dough rest for 40 minutes to an hour and a half on the peel, but the crust is the same each time. I can't figure out what will make it thinner.

Another question: The other night I kneaded some additions into the dough before shaping my loaf. I tried to be as gentle with it as I could, and next time I'll try stretching and rolling as you mentioned above. But say I was to knead the additions in, how much resting time does the loaf need to build up the gasses again? And if I were to stretch and roll, how much resting time would you recommend? Does the dough build up gasses again easily after being handled like this?

And on the same line of thought... I hear the gasses escaping every time I reach in the bucket and grab a hunk of dough to cut off. Is there a way I can pull the dough out of the bucket without such a loss of gasses?

Thanks for all you've done!

 

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi. One more thing to consider is which oven rack you are baking on. In the book there is a mistake in the master recipe, which says to put your stone on the bottom rack and it should be in the MIDDLE! If I bake bread on my bottom rack it takes way too long to color nicely and gets very thick. If none of what Jeff and I have said seems to do the trick, let us know and we will figure this out with you!

If you haven't already done so you should visit our errata page at our websites to make a note of all the mistakes we missed in the book. There are more than we'd like!!!

www.artisanbreadinfive.com

www.zoebakes.com

Thanks, Zoë

raisdbywolvz's picture
raisdbywolvz

Thank you, both of you. I am using the middle shelf, and I've already gone through your errata page and made corrections throughout the book. I'm so glad you posted that! It's helped so much.

The one thing I hadn't considered was the steam escaping, so I'll try spritzing the loaf as Jeff suggested. I'll let you know how that turns out.

One more question... I've just finished off a batch of dough, baking my last loaf tonight. Each of the loaves I've baked came out of the oven with a rounded bottom that has cracked open on the sides of the bottom. I'm baking on a baking stone on the middle shelf, using cornmeal to slide it off of the peel. I slash the dough as you show in the book after at least a 40 minute rest, sometimes longer. My oven thermometer reads 450. The flour I'm using is the KA AP flour, and unfortunately I didn't add an extra 1/4 cup of water to it, which I will do the next time. Do you have any idea why the bottom of my loaves are rounded and cracked? Is this a hydration issue?

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi.

Yes, I think the issue of the rounded loaf and splitting bottom is your dough is too dry. As you mentioned, you need to add more water when using King Arthur Flour. I think this will improve your loaf in many ways!

Zoe

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi. The escaping gas when you pull the dough out of the container can't be avoided, unfortunately. That is why it is so important to be gentle with the dough when shaping so as not to lose anymore! Zoë

jhertz10's picture
jhertz10

L_M:  My short answer is no, you can do the rise partly (or probably completely) in the fridge, especially if you start with 100-degree water.  I've done variants of this and it just takes a bit of time. 

     Hey, can you tell me a little more about what you mean by "wobbly?"  I think I know where you're going with this, and many readers have asked how to get more open crumb structure, so I'd love to get your specifics.  Are you shaking it side-to-side and watching for movement? 

Raisdbywolvz:  I have this sneaking suspicion that your oven isn't well-sealed and the steam you're creating is dissipating.  Zoe and I had this exact experience tonight at a demo, with professional Viking ovens.  There wasn't much steam effect despite treating the steam exactly as we do in our home ovens (I have a Jenn-Aire and a Zoe has a Dacor, I believe).  Steam makes the crust in non-enriched breads thinner and crisper (as opposed to hard and thick when baked dry), by cross-linking proteins at the exposed surface. 

Here's what I would do:  try spraying water on the loaves at the outset of baking (in addition to the broiler tray/water method we specify).  That wets down the surface and might compensate for less steam effect.  Some books say to repeat this at three minute intervals for three repetitions so experiment, and let us know how you make out. 

Jeff

raisdbywolvz's picture
raisdbywolvz

You're a genius! I used 2 cups of water instead of 1 in the broiler pan (I got this tip from another thread on this site) and my crust came out with the thinnest, crispiest crust I've produced yet!

Thanks again for your help.

L_M's picture
L_M

Hi Zoe and Jeff,

Thank you both for confirming my thoughts about the initial rise - from now on it will be straight in the fridge for me, unless I intend to bake that same day.

More on wobbly... Jeff you probably do know exactly where I'm going with this. First of all I must say that most of my baking is with up to about 1/3 - 1/2 of the flour as wwflour and the rest white, so I don't have much experience with rye or other flours.

In order for me to determine when it is the correct time to put the loaves/rolls in the oven, I first of all look at the increase in volume (which usually tells me nothing unless it's in a loaf pan), then I do the poke test, and then, when I think it is ready, I do the ultimate "jello test". It's the only way I can ready describe what I'm looking for. The whole piece of shaped dough, inside and out, should wobble like jello. If it's a free form loaf (on parchment) then I wet my hand before placing it on the loaf and quickly but gently, give it a good shake to see if it wobbles throughout. If it's in a pan or rolls on a baking sheet, then I just shake the pan or sheet and try to get the same idea of what is going on inside. I find that the outer portion of the dough gets airy before the center so I always try to make sure that the center is light as well before it gets baked.

Tonight when I bake the rye loaf I'll pay special attention to see if there is anything else I forgot, but as I said before I don't have experience with rye so I hope I'm not asking for a brick with this method!

Eric: beautiful loaves!! Why do you want to bake at a lower temp next time?

L_M

L_M's picture
L_M

 5 min. deli rye5 min. deli rye

Wow - this is wonderful bread!! I was very happy with the result - lovely texture and it tastes just like I was hoping... I'm hooked.

It took 3 hours at approx 20C -21C room temp from the time I took the container with the dough out of the fridge until it was ready to be baked. It did feel slightly different than other doughs without rye, so I didn't let it get quite as wobbly as I normally would, but I'd say it expanded to at least 2 -3 times it's original size. Nice oven spring, thin crisp crust, a few large holes here and there, but for the most part the crumb was quite even throughout. The flour I used was 11% AP and dark whole rye, and luckily these are both available in most stores because I think I'll be making this alot!

L_M

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi L_M,

This bread is really beautiful!

You let it sit out at room temperature for 3 hours before you baked it? How old was the dough? This is very interesting and encouraging. I've been telling people to go as far as 2 hours, so now I have another experiment to do. My fear is unexperienced bakers will go too far and lose the oven spring.

We knew that a 40 minute rest would not produce the perfect crumb, but we wanted people to know it could be done, and that they would get decent results. Now I think we should have a range for those that are patient enough to wait!

Thank you for sharing the picture. It is so helpful to see what people are baking!

Zoë

L_M's picture
L_M

Hi Zoe,

The dough wasn't very old - I mixed it on Sat. evening and baked on Mon. afternoon, so it probably still had lots of strength. Also the 3 hours was the total time out of the fridge so part of that (about 45 min) was used for a stretch and fold, and preshaping etc. 

It's interesting that everyone is so worried about overproofing. I remember that for my first couple of years baking bread I was seriously underproofing because of all the warnings (LOL), and constantly the result would be dense, doughy, hard loaves. But... I agree, nothing beats the thrill of watching bread as it springs up in the oven!

Good luck with all your experiments - it sounds like you have your hands full (of dough of course) :-)

L_M

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi L_M,

I agree about the overproofing issues. The only dough I ever had trouble with was the traditional method of making brioche. I've never had that problem with this recipe.

Thanks again! Zoe

syllymom's picture
syllymom

Ok, I think I need to buy this book.  Or maybe I should yet for the second edition with all the corrections.  :) 

How long until a second edition? 

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi syllymom,

We are already on our 4th printing of the book. We managed to get some of the corrections made in the last edition, but we've found some more since it was printed. I fear this will be a long process!!!

If you haven't already you should go to our website and check the errata page before you use the book. www.artisanbreadinfive.com

Thanks, Zoe

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

I baked 4 dinner rolls from the master recipe last night, and the flavor and oven spring were excellent. (I did a half recipe using only 1 tsp yeast letting it rise on the counter for 5 hours, then refrigerated 1 day.) The thin crust was on the soft side, with little caramelization.  I'm not sure my toaster oven really got up to 450, though I imagine that with a small stone in there I could get a crisp crust.

I have most of my remaining dough formed into a loaf, but I saved back about 4 ounces to see how the dough tastes after several days.  I transferred it to a smaller container.  I can see that if I kept 2 or 3 batches of your dough going, I would need to transfer to smaller containers for space considerations. Is there any problem doing that? Would the dough need to be handled quite gently during this, or does it recover a bit?  

I was doing a strange shape tonight, so I did a few stretch and folds before shaping.  I don't know if this is a no-no, it just felt right.  Too bad I was in too much of a hurry to let it rest long after the folding.

And my last question tonight.  Have you tried inoculating your doughs with a sourdough culture instead of commercial yeast? I would rather use wild yeast, but don't know enough to try to predict how it would react to the long term dough storage.

Thanks for all of your help!  I plan to get the book, but don't have it yet,  so I apologize if all these questions are answered there.   

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi kippercat,

Yes, I think you are right that a small baking stone will help your crust in the toaster oven! Try that and see if you see any improvement.

I transfer my dough to smaller buckets as I use it. I try not to handle it too much but I'm not overly careful either. As long as it is going to have plenty of time to rise again, it doesn't really seem to matter!

We have lots of recipes in the book that have you adding ingredients to the dough or rolling it out. Any of this is quite doable with the dough, but you do need to allow a longer rest after handling it so much.

You can use a natural levain with our method. We suggest about a cup of your starter in place of the yeast in the whole master recipe. Obviously this dough will need a much longer rise. We say that the initial rise should be about 6-12 hours and the rest before baking should be about 2+ hours. The resulting bread is really wonderful. This recipe is not actually in the book. We decided to take the Levain chapter out, for fear of intimidating novice bakers. It may have a place in the next book!

Zoe

blackberrygrl's picture
blackberrygrl

Hi all, Floyd, Jeff, and Zoe...

I am an avid reader of the forum but never post. I'm a novice bread maker and have a basic question about the no-knead bread. I saw a post on another thread that said they punched down the dough every day in while in the refrigerator. Is this necessary? Have I ruined my batch since I haven't been doing this? When I open the lid, it's still very wet. Thanks.

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi blackberrygrl,

Great question!

Your instincts to leave the dough, without touching it, is right! You want to preserve all of the gas that builds up in the dough so that the crumb of the baked bread is filled with nice holes and isn't dense. This is why we recommend not punching it down and being as gentle as possible when shaping the loaf.

The dough will be very wet and may to get wetter as it ages. It sounds like you are doing everything exactly right!

Please let me know if you have any more questions! I'm so glad you are trying out the bread and look forward to hearing about your experience.

Zoe

 

ljcblue's picture
ljcblue

First of all, I love this site! (insert new member obligatory fan girl squeal!) :)

 

Second, I've been experimenting with the basic recipe ever since the article on artisan bread in 5 showed up in The Boston Globe a few weeks ago. Pretty much, my kids (12 and 14 yo boys) will eat whatever emerges from the oven, but I'm on a quest for the perfect loaf from this process.

 

I think I may have gotten it just the way I like it. :) Last night's loaf had a thin, crackly crust, the crumb had lovely irregular holes and the taste was like a mild sourdough. (Sorry I don't have a pic--it got used up for sandwiches today.)

The only problem was that there was one *large* hole just under the top crust that made for odd sandwiches, but I think that's b/c I didn't slash the loaf.

 

My tweaks:

 

The dough:

1--using half KA white whole wheat/half unbleached white flour

2--using a hunk of the sponge from the previous batch to boost flavor

3--using half the amount of new yeast

 

The rise:

1--I only use the dough after it's been sitting in the fridge for at least a day

2--I let the 'cloaked' and shaped loaf sit at room temp for 3 hours, on parchment paper and in an enameled pot with its lid on.

 

The baking:

1--cold start oven at 450 degrees

2--20 minutes with pot covered

3--last 10-15 minutes out of the pot (the parchment directly on the oven rack.)

4--bake to 210 degrees internal temp

Now I need to see if I can replicate it.

 

My next step is to see what happens if I shape the loaf in the morning and let it rise until dinner time in the fridge, then bake from a cold start. That would be the ideal 'tweak' for the days I'm at work and want fresh bread for dinner.

 

Thanks for hosting this site and the q & A!

Once in a Blue Muse: http://www.ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi. Yes, it works beautifully to shape the loaf in the morning and let it rest in the refrigerator. I've been playing with this for a few weeks and I love it!!!

Shape the bread first thing in the morning, place it on parchment, loosely cover with plastic and put it back in the refrigerator. I've let it go for as much as 14 hours but I bet it could go longer!
 
Right before dinner preheat the oven to 450 with the baking stone on the center rack. When it is hot take your cold dough out of the refrigerator, slash as normal, bake with the steam and you will get a great bread with big holes and a lovely crust! This takes care of the issue of a dense crumb like a charm! 


Plus I find it is so much more convenient when you have so much to do right before dinner!

It should also work well with your DO if that is how you prefer to bake!

Thanks, Zoe

mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

Howdy,

I have lurked about this site for the past year, envious of everyone who had the time to make artisan bread.  My family loves to have really good bread but because my boys are allergic to sesame seeds and nuts, we just could not buy a good artisan loaf from a bakery because of concerns about cross-contamination (mixing one batch with nuts/seeds, then the next batch without, getting traces of the nuts/seeds).  Unfortunately, my very busy schedule ended up making it nearly impossible to make homemade bread on any consistent basis.  However, your "five minutes a day" technique is really great for someone like me because of the flexibility of time.  This refrigerator-proofing step is just another great tweak to this technique.  I'll have to try it.

I just recently made some caramel sticky buns using the brioche dough and it was just great.  So, maybe someday I'll graduate to a more traditional approach to bread making (when I have the time), but for now, I don't have to sacrifice time for some really good loaves.  Thanks.

Mr. Peabody

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi Mr. Peabody,

Thanks for joining in. I'm so glad you started your foray back into baking with the brioche!!! I love that recipe.

This is a great way to control exactly what is going into your kids' food.

If in the end this method inspires you to try more traditional bread methods we will have succeeded in our goal! There are so many methods out there and it is fun to play around with them all. This is a great place to start!!!

Thanks for the feedback! Zoe

raisdbywolvz's picture
raisdbywolvz

I had problems with the hydration level because of the type of flour I use (King Arthur AP seems to have a higher protein content). I have found that by baking on parchment paper placed on the stone, instead of using cornmeal and baking directly on the stone, the issue of the rounded and cracking bottom just goes away. When I bake on the parchment paper, the bottoms of my loaves are flat, just as they should be, though they don't brown up very much. But I solve this by turning the loaf over for the last 5 minutes of baking. The loaves come out just fine, even with the lower hydration, though I can definitely tell a difference in the character of the crumb in later batches after I got the hydration right.

5 days ago I mixed up a batch using 1 cup of Hodgson Mill Rye flour along with the AP flour (and I added that extra 1/4 cup of water!). I didn't have caraway seeds when I mixed the dough, but by the time I cooked up my first loaf last night, I had gone to the store to buy some, so I sprinkled them on top of the loaf. OMG!!! It's the taste I've always loved! Next batch I'll add the caraway seeds to the dough, for sure!

I really wish I had a digital camera so I could post some pics. Maybe, with the money I save by not buying bread at the store...

Zoe and Jeff, you have both been such a help -- on this forum and others. Thank you for your patience and your time! Your participation has made the difference between ok bread and fantastic bread! I still can't believe I'm turning out such incredible loaves (and my friends are loving it as well)! Your expert advice, your encouragement to try new things, and your openness to new ideas regarding your own recipes, have given me the confidence to experiment even though I'm a relative newbie in the world of baking and had been somewhat intimidated by a lifetime of hearing what an exact science baking is. My last several loaves have turned out so well that I actually feel like I know what I'm doing! It could be an illusion, but still, it's hard to ignore the results. :)

And I know exactly what I'm taking to the superbowl party on Sunday! Thanks again!

 

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi raisdbywolvz,

Thank you! Jeff and I have learned so much and are enjoying all of the conversations people are willing to have about the book and their bread. It is wonderful to have constructive feedback and we hope to keep improving our own loaves and the book, through future editions.

There is nothing more satisfying than recreating a taste you remember from your past. Everytime I bake the rye bread or bialys I think of my grandfather and eating it with him.

Have fun with the book and I look forward to the pictures!!!

Zoe

raisdbywolvz's picture
raisdbywolvz

I took 3 different loaves to the superbowl party and they were all big hits -- a boule from the master recipe, a rye caraway swirl, and an epi.

The host of the party was kind enough to let me use his camera, so I actually have some pics. Some of them are awfully blurry. Sorry.

Party spread

Rye caraway swirl crumb

This is the rye caraway swirl. The dough was 8 days old. Not as many holes as I'd like, but the crumb was soft and really tasty. I shaped the loaf last night and let it sit in the fridge all night, then put it in the oven almost straight from the fridge.

Pain d'Epi crumb

I used the last of my under-hydrated boule dough for the epi, which seemed to equate with the epi recipe. The dough was about 12 days old with nice sourdough notes. This loaf was shaped and rested just prior to baking.

Boule crumb

The boule dough was 1 day old. I'm hoping the lack of hole structure is because the dough is so young. Strangely enough, it had an almost sweet flavor. Maybe it's because I've been baking from more aged dough for the last couple of weeks? Shaped and rested just prior to baking.

 

jhertz10's picture
jhertz10

Nice shots!  I like that chunky pain d'epi, which as you say, is a little easier if it's a bit drier dough.  In the book, we get that by recommending bread flour (the protein absorbs more water), but it's not absolutely essential. 

Once you roll in add-ins with our method, as in the caraway swirl, a really long rest/proofing stage for the formed loaf will give you better hole structure.  For the book, we always compromised about time, but if you don't mind waiting, let that loaf go two hours and you'll probably be happier with the crumb structure.

When you go back to fresh dough after using aged stuff for a while, you're going to miss that tang, which balances sweetness of crust caramelization.  So I'm not surprised by your reaction. 

Thanks for being so systematic about our recipes, much appreciated!

Jeff

apers's picture
apers

I made a bath of the master recipe for the first time on sunday. I have made the rye recipe with great results.

 

i made little dinner rolls on tueday with a bit of the master recipe and it was quite tasty except it tasted too salty to me. i used regular table salt. is it possible to reduce the salt to 1tbl and still store it as long as 2 weeks? what should i do? the bread is wonderful, just quite salty.

April

 

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi apers,

All of our recipes were written for Morton's kosher salt. If you use table salt I would decrease the amount, as you said to 1 tablespoon, or whatever suits you! You can still store the dough for the full two weeks with no difference in quality!

Thanks for trying it! Enjoy! Zoe

judith's picture
judith

I made my third batch of Simple Crusty Bread yesterday with Harvest King All Purpose Flour ( had used KA all purpose before) and the dough went wild. It more than doubled in bulk during the first two-hour rise and I had to gently punch it down before putting it in the fridge. Overnight it again more than doubled in bulk.

Is this becuse of the Harvest King flour? I used the same Kosher salt and yeast that I have been using.

 Thanks for any insight,

www.judithconwayglass.com

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi, This is very interesting and I think you are right. The Harvest King flour has a high % of protein and they add ascorbic acid, so it will tend to rise higher.

How did the bread turn out? Did you end up adding more water to the dough to compensate for the higher protein?

I'm going to get a bag of this flour and test it out!

Thanks for the great question.

Zoë

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I have a bag of Harvest King flour and it doesn't list ascorbic acid in the ingredients list. Where do you see ascorbic acid listed?

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi, I went to the manufacturer's website and found this:

"Harvest King absorbs greater quantities of water and has a more elastic dough-handling quality than all-purpose flour. It contains a small amount of ascorbic acid to improve dough handling and produce better volume and crumb structure in bread. "

I don't have a bag in front of me so I can't tell you if it is on the label???

Thanks, Zoe

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

I think I'll add my own Vit C in that case! I've got some powdered ascorbic acid that I used to add to whole wheat NYT no knead bread. Any idea how much to add? I've read suggestions of anywhere from 1/4 tsp to 2 tsp. per loaf!

Btw, your book arrived yesterday. I have some deli rye in the fridge right now.:)

zoebakes's picture
zoebakes

Hi Kippercat,

I haven't tried adding it to this type of dough, so if I were you I'd start with the smallest amount and experiment from there. Maybe as little as 1/2 teaspoon per batch.

Please keep me posted on how it turns out!

I look forward to hearing about the rye too.

 Thanks, Zoë

Childebert's picture
Childebert

Kippercat:

the amount of adding Vit C depends on the type of flour. In Europe, Vit C is added in concentrations anywhere between 20 ppm and 60 ppm (above 60 ppm its power drops off). French baguette flour usually has less, somewhere around 10 ppm.

Childebert