The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts Books Bestsellers

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim Books Bestsellers

As far as I can tell, every time I've browsed Amazon's bestseller list in bread books, I've found Hertzberg's and Francois' "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" on top. It's typically followed by BBA and an assortment of books on bread machine recipes.

How popular is this book really? BBA is mentioned here a lot, but the "5 minutes a day" book more rarely. I've heard about the method (I think you keep a basically un-kneaded slab of dough in your fridge, and then tear off chunks that are allowed to come to room temperature and then baked), but is it really "revolutionizing home baking" (as its title implies)?

It sounds like a method that would be very well suited for those who can't/won't invest as much time in bread baking as a lot of us loafers do. Has anyone on here used the book/method? If so, I'd be curious to hear what you think!

DerekL's picture

Well, '5 Minutes' may not be all that popular here...  but we are just a small slice of the bread making universe.

Floydm's picture

I think you summed it up quite well. Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day is written for a broader audience, people who always thought baking bread at home would be too difficult and who want quick, easy results. The Bread Baker's Apprentice is written more for people who have already tried baking and really want to take their baking to the next level, who want to understand the science and master the art of baking. The authors of each book are accomplished bakers, they've just carved out different niches for themselves.

I think both books are great and wouldn't think twice of giving either book as a gift to a friend or loved one. I'd probably give Artisan Bread in 5 to my young professional friends that don't spend a lot of time at home cooking ("Hey... impress your date next time by baking a loaf of bread!") and BBA to someone already familiar with bread baking or who hasn't baked but is into the Slow Food movement. And, yes, most of folks who hang out on a message board for bread bakers are in the BBA audience, but that doesn't mean that we couldn't learn something ABI5MAD.

I don't know if you saw the Q&A we did with Zoë & Jeff a while back, but it might give you more info about where they are coming from.

janij's picture

I use both books a lot.  I almost always have a bucket of dough in the frigde using the 5 minutes a day book.  This dough I use for pizza, pitas and if I am in a crunch hamburger buns.  It makes okay loaves.  Better than store bought but not as good as say Reinhart's ciabatta.  I gave a copy of the 5 min a day book to both my sister in laws who are short on time with lots of kids.  It has helped than a lot.  So I think it depends on what you are looking for.  If you want upscale artisan bread get Reinhart, Hamelman, etc.  If you want something easy that is better than what you buy at the store but don't want the work go with the 5 min book.  I think they both have their place. 

But I will say, I make all our bread and I would not give up the 5 min recipes just because it makes weekly pizza night a breeze.  I can have pizza on the table in less than 45 min- including preheating the ove- if I have a bucket of dough in the fridge.  That is why I bought that book in the first place.  But I would never give up Hamelman's Multigrain or my rye or wheat starters either.

suave's picture

It's like that - no one's gonna call you a woodcrafter if you are capable of putting together a piece from Ikea.  It is immensely more popular though, and for a good reason.