The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Coffee with Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

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Floydm's picture
Floydm

Coffee with Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, who are in the middle of a press tour for their new book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, were kind enough take the time to have coffee with me today.

Some background: Jeff and Zoë's previous book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (ABIFMAD) came out a little over two years ago (Jeff and Zoë did a Q&A with The Fresh Loaf community shortly thereafter). Though the book had been in production for some time, ABIFMAD was released at the peak of the enthusiasm for no-knead breadmaking stirred up by Mark Bittman's article on Jim Lahey's no-knead technique in the New York Times. ABIFMAD quickly became a bestseller, to date selling over 200,000 copies and remaining one of the top selling baking book on Amazon.com. It also spawned a popular blog.

ABIFMAD included numerous enriched doughs but very little about whole grain baking. Jeff and Zoë told me that through the blog they heard from many bakers trying to adapt the recipes in ABIFMAD to work better with whole grains. When the opportunity arose to do a follow up book, a focus on whole grains and healthier baking was the natural place for them to take it.

Thus Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (HBIFMAD) was born. The technique used in HBIFMAD is basically the same as that used in ABIFMAD: make a high hydration dough with minimal mixing and no kneading, then use refrigeration to extend the fermentation process for up to two weeks.  Then, bake the bread when it is most convenient for you.

Though ABIFMAD rarely used ingredients that most bakers couldn't easily find in the nearest grocery store, HBIFMAD takes a long stroll down the health food aisle. As well as whole wheat breads, there are recipes using flours made from spelt, tapioca, mesquite, soy, rye, sorghum, teff, and emmer. Most of the butter fat has been replaced with olive oil or other healthful options. There is also a large section of the book titled "Breads with Hidden Fruits or Vegetables" which includes breads containing sweet potatoes, beets, prunes, lentils, even broccoli. Jeff, an MD, acknowledged that the current dietary recommendation of 9 half cup servings of fruits or vegetables is difficult for most folks to reach, and he took it as a challenge to develop recipes that would help people hit that target.  Zoë, a pastry chef, enjoyed the challenge of developing great tasting recipes that contained ingredients people claim not to like.

Though not the primary focus, the book also contain a set of gluten-free recipes. Behind whole grain recipes, Jeff and Zoë said that gluten-free recipes were the second most commonly requested item on their site. Again, they enjoyed the challenge of developing tasty gluten-free recipes and they are pleased with the results. Gluten-free breads don't keep as well as traditional breads, they advise, but when eaten while fresh they can be as tasty as the real deal.

As far as baking breakthroughs go, their biggest discovery was the difference that adding vital wheat gluten can make in the longevity of whole grain doughs. "We found we weren't crazy about the result until we started testing our approach with vital wheat gluten," they said, "But with the addition of vital wheat gluten, the whole grain doughs remain springy enough and can be refrigerated long enough to bring out the more complicated flavors that one expects in a fully developed dough."  You may need to order vital wheat gluten online or hunt for it to find it in your area, but if you are baking these types of breads Jeff and Zoë believe it is worth the extra effort.

With all the competing baking books coming out this year, it remains to be seen how well this book does, but the initial response they've received has been positive, and the size of the first print run suggests the publisher also has high hopes for HBIFMAD.

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day is now available from St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books. The website for both books is artisanbreadin5.com. Also, the website BigBlackDogs.net is starting a baking group based on this book patterned after the popular BBA Challenge that many community members here are participating in.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hmmmm .... Looks a lot like the Pearl Bakery. Nice place to have coffee.


Oh! Nice review, too, Floyd.


David

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Indeed it was Pearl Bakery.  They were going to be at Powell's that evening and I work in Old Town, so Pearl was a convenient choice for everyone and, as you said, it is a nice place.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I am actually translating the book into Chinese - a Chinese publisher bought the right of the book and found me through my Chinese baking blog to translate it. ABin5 was the book introduced me to bread baking, I am glad to bring it to more audience in China!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Very cool.  It looks like a good book.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That would be great!  If you can get them to tell you how much their cup weighs in grams I just might buy the Chinese version! 


As we all know, each baker measures just a little bit differently from the next.  Each flour type would also be different.  If their cup has just 10g difference from mine, then 10 cups of flour is 100g off or almost a cup!  Off by 30g then 300g difference!   Grams is certainly more accurate but in order to translate cups to grams, I need to know what Zoe's cup weighs.


Mini

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Just to Clarify, I am translating the original ABin5, not the new book.


Mini, I am in fact talkig to Jeff about this exact matter, I will let you know once I get the answer. On their website I think they advised 140g of flour per cup, but in my experience, I get a more open crumb when I use 130g per cup. It will be different for whole grain flour though.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I like to start with 125g per cup for AP wheat.  140g would make a big difference!  I hope they tested their conversion and it was not a page stuck in by the publisher.   I can order the book in Europe in English and have it delivered before I arrive home (amazing!)  But I'm holding out on the gram thing. 


Mini

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I forgot to mention that, though the new book does not include weights with each of the recipes (though it does for the master recipe), it does include a table of equivalence.   So you can see that they are assuming a cup of AP flour weighs 140 grams, whole wheat flour 130 grams, and so on. 


Whether all of the recipes were tested using weights and measures, I don't know.  That would be a good question to ask them if they find the time to do another Q&A with us.  We talked about that and they sounded like they'd be up for that once they wrap up the initial flurry of travel and interviews associated with the release of the book.  They are, understandably, rather busy right now.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

By now, you'd think all new artisan baking books would include weights in the recipes.  A conversion table is nice, but flipping back and forth - or even FINDING the conversion table - is awkward.


Rosalie

Dcn Marty's picture
Dcn Marty

Just what I need: another book I can't live without! Will have to put this on my "must have" wish list. Maybe Santa will be nice and bring it to me. Keep this up, I might actually get good at whole grain breads.

janij's picture
janij

I got the book earlier this week along with Reinhart's new book.  Amazon pre order gets me everytime.  Anyway, I tried 2 of the recipes and they are pretty good so far.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Do you see any weights mentioned in the book or a helpful weight page?  This is important to me if I were to buy this book.  I like the long ferments using instant yeast but converting this book from page to page into weights would be a lot of work.


Mini

janij's picture
janij

On pages 36-38 they have measurements and weights.  How much ap four weighs, WW flour, rye, spelt, etc for a cup in oz and grams.  Then it gives other conversion tables.  The master recipe is given in cups and weights.  But that is the only one.  But here is the thing.  I weight flour and water pretty much.  Salt, yeast and sugar I measure.  So I think yes would have to do some converting. but it may be 2-3 things a recipe.  Hope this helps.


The two that I tried were really wet.  Not sure they are supposed to be this wet.  The white flour ones weren't.  But they tasted good.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Judging from this entry in their blog, I think the recipes are indeed supposed to be wetter than those from the previous book.   But if you leave the dough in the fridge for a few day the bran may soak up more of the water and the it get easier to handle.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I use measuring spoons as well for small amounts.  Like Floyd said, these recipes are wetter and the more protein in the flour (higher ash content or "more whole" flours) absorb more water as they stand.   So it does make sense.   Thanks for the swift come back, both of you!


Mini  :)

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

Enjoyed your post, Floyd.  I am on the verge of commiting to yet another baking challenge. 


I have yet to bake from any of their earlier books, but I have enjoyed Zoe's personal blog.  It was there that I discovered an absolutely SINFUL chocolate cupcake recipe.  The woman can work wonders with flour, sugar and chocolate.  I'll bet the magic spills over into her bread baking discoveries, too.


:)

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

I have the first book, and liked it a lot, but then got hooked on levain bread, and never looked back...


If I was to join another challenge, I would have to commit myself to a mental hospital, so this one I will be following from a safe distance  :-)


Good luck for those starting this journey!

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

OH!!!!!  IN CHINESE!!!!!!!!  Be still my heart!


What a great accomplishment this will be, and you are THE perfect person to do it!


txfarmer, do you think it would be available to buy here in the US?


 


非常好!

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Probably not, but don't worry, if you want, I can arrange something. ;)

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Well, keep me posted!    I am so excited for you, I'm sure it will be a ton of work, but very gratifying!


 


Best of luck for you!