Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Artisan bread in 5 minutes (a new approach to no-knead bread) and Minestrone

During some late night blog reading last night I discovered the site Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes - this is the name of a book and website with recipes for making no-knead bread in only "5 minutes" (preparation time). This is the same principle as the Jim Lahey No-knead Bread I posted about last year but with some changes to make it easier to do on a regular basis. The ratio of water to flour is the same so the main difference is the amount of yeast but the Artisan Bread website does have adaptions for a low-yeast slow-rise version. So it mainly comes down to the method.
Basically you make a big batch of dough (4+ loaves), no kneading necessary, leave it to rise for 2 hours then put the dough in the fridge. Over the next two weeks when you want to make bread you just pull off a 500g lump of dough, shape and leave to rise for 40 - 90 minutes and bake. So you can have a loaf of bread on the table in 70 minutes.

And it was good! Maybe not quite as good as the original no-knead but better than any supermarket loaf. I baked the first loaf on a pizza stone as recommended but might try the Jim Lahey method of baking in a covered pot next time, and since I have 3 more loaves worth of dough in the fridge, that won't involve much effort.

Tonight the bread accompanied minestrone for dinner. My friend Skye and I were discussing what we put in our minestrone the other day so I thought I had better make it again. It would have to be one of my favourite soups. Ava, my two year old, loved the soup and thought the kidney beans were olives so she gobbled up her own and her sisters!

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes
makes 4 500g loaves
Don't be afraid of all the steps in this recipe, they are detailed and descriptive but you will really only need to read them the first time! For a pictorial description see the Artisan Bread website.
Go here for more variations on the basic bread including pizza dough, whole-wheat sandwich bread, sticky caramel pecan rolls, naan and dinner rolls.

3 cups lukewarm water (+1/4 C if using bread flour)
4 1/2 tsp granulated yeast ( you can use any kind of yeast including: instant, rapid rise, bread machine, active dry) You can also decrease the amount of yeast in the recipe by following the directions here. Or you can bake with a sour dough starter, see instructions here.
4 1/2 tsp coarse salt or less table salt (use less salt to suit your taste or eliminate it all together)
6 1/2 cups (900g) unbleached plain flour

  1. In a 6 L bowl or lidded container, mix water, yeast, salt and flour and stir until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, it will be a wet rough dough.
  2. Rest the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut, you want the gases from the yeast to escape. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 2 hours to rise. When you first mix the dough it will not occupy much of the container. But, after the initial 2 hour rise it will pretty much fill it. DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! Just let it settle by itself.
  3. The dough will be flat on the top and some of the bubbles may even appear to be popping. (If you intend to refrigerate the dough after this stage it can be placed in the refrigerator even if the dough is not perfectly flat. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator.) The dough can be used right after the initial 2 hour rise, but it is much easier to handle when it is chilled. It is intended for refrigeration and use over the next two weeks, ready for you anytime. The flavour will deepen over that time, developing sourdough characteristics.
  4. The next day when you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you will notice that it has collapsed and this is totally normal for our dough. It will never rise up again in the container.
  5. Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.
  6. You should notice that the dough has a lot of stretch once it has rested. (If your dough breaks off instead of stretching like this your dough is probably too dry and you can just add a few tablespoons of water and let it sit again until the dough absorbs the additional water.)
  7. Cut off a 450g piece of dough using scissors and form it into a ball. Place the ball on a floured sheet of baking paper. Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes, (or even up to 90 minutes, this will give you a more open hole structure in the interior of the loaf). You will notice that the loaf does not rise much during this rest, in fact it may just spread sideways, this is normal for our dough.
  8. Preheat the oven to 230 C degrees with a baking or pizza stone or cast iron pizza pan on the centre rack, with a metal roasting tray on the bottom (never use a glass vessel for this or it will shatter), which will be used to produce steam. (The tray needs to be at least 4 or 5 inches away from your stone to prevent it from cracking.)
  9. Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a serrated knife. (If your slashes are too shallow you will end up with an oddly shaped loaf and also prevent it from splitting on the bottom.) I forgot to do this!
  10. Slide the loaf into the oven onto the preheated stone (the one I’m using is the cast iron) and add a cup of hot water to the roasting tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown colour.
  11. If you used baking paper you will want to remove it after about 20minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Continue baking the loaf directly on the stone for the last 10 minutes.
  12. Allow the loaf to cool on a rack until it is room temperature.

This makes a large pot of soup. You can make it with whatever vegies you have on hand, but I have included my favourites in the recipe. We love chorizo sausage in the soup (the kids don't eat it) but if you would prefer you could buy a small piece of beef, cook it in the soup then chop/shred it and add back in, this is what my Mum used to do.

1 chorizo, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
1 leek, chopped (optional)
3 sticks celery
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
handful fresh herbs eg. parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano; chopped
4 bacon rashes, chopped
½ C red wine (if you have any open)
2 L stock, chicken or beef
800g tin tomatoes, chopped
1 parmesan rind (if you have one)
2 zucchini, diced
½ cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ bunch silverbeet, stems removed and shredded
handful soup pasta or spaghetti, broken into 1 in pieces
handful basil leaves, chopped
parmesan, grated

Heat a drop of oil in large saucepan or stockpot. Fry chorizo until golden, turning to cook all sides, set aside.

Heat remaining oil, cook onion, leek, celery, carrot, garlic, herbs and bacon over low heat until soft, at least 10 minutes. Turn up the heat and add red wine and allow to sizzle. Add stock, tomatoes, parmesan, zucchini and cauliflower and cook until vegetables are almost cooked. Add silverbeet and pasta and cook until pasta is done.

Serve with basil and parmesan.


  1. i love jims bread but it is time consuming, gonna try this one i like the idea of having 3 ready to go in the fridge, and chorizo in minestrone !! nice one :)

  2. Hi

    Your bread looks so good!

    Doesn't the dough go sour sitting so long in the fridge. I have noticed that sometimes if I let the bread rise a little too long it starts to sour.


  3. Thanks! I don't know if my dough has ever lasted the full 2 weeks but it has always tasted great and only ever soured a little. From reading about others experiences this is plus as it takes on more of a sour dough taste. But it is only very mild, I think the fridge stops it happening too much.

    I have been meaning to come back to this post and say I have also had success baking this in a preheated covered pot for 30 min then uncovered for 15 more minutes as per the Jim Lahey method.

    Happy Baking!