Friday, April 3, 2009

You Can Make Bread in 5 Minutes Too!

I am so eager to share this recipe with you! I have been baking our family's bread for nearly ten years now. In that time, I've tried a lot of different methods and recipes, including a few "soaked" and sourdough breads. (What is soaking grains?)

I can usually get a really nice, sliceable loaf of 100% whole wheat bread by using normal bread making procedures. However, I want to make a soaked loaf for its health benefits. I have had trouble with soaked breads crumbling before I can make them into a sandwich. Or, they crumble as you lift them to your mouth. In addition to sliceability, I also need a method that is quick. I'm here to tell you... making enough bread for my family takes a lot of time. Figuring on 8-10 sandwiches a day, that's 6 loaves a week! (My husband and Spiderman always eat two; Rainbow and I usually have one and a half... then the little girls... it adds up.)

I have been searching for a way to make enough sliceable, soaked bread for my hungry family WITHOUT bread baking commandeering my life. You can imagine my excitement with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Really, it took me 30 minutes over a 48-hour time frame to make four loaves of bread and rolls. It would take considerably less time if I wasn't grinding my own grain. I didn't believe the title at first, but after making the quick master recipe, this bread REALLY only takes 5 minutes.

One more thing before I get to the recipe. The book includes an abundance of really helpful information and a multiplicity of tempting variations. Being the practical-mind that I am, I've just zeroed in on the bread we will eat on a daily basis. I highly recommend purchasing this book both for the troubleshooting help and for the extra recipes. Personally, I am looking forward to trying out the bagels and pretzels!

For six loaves of 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, you'll need the following ingredients. You can cut this in half if you only want three, but bread freezes well, so why not six?

  • 3 cups of lukewarm water
  • 3 cups of lukewarm milk
  • 3 Tbsp. yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. EVOO (that's extra virgin olive oil)
  • 13 1/3 cups of whole wheat flour. Because my flour is freshly ground and not yet settled, I have had to increase this to 14 cups.

First, you are going to make your master recipe. In the following pictures, I used my mixer to combine the ingredients. Honestly, I probably won't use it again. There is no kneading to do, and the dough is really wet. So, it is more simple to combine the ingredients with a wooden spoon in the bucket I will use for storing the master dough. It is easy to mix by hand and then I won't have to wash all the parts of my mixer!

To make the master recipe, mix the milk, water, yeast, salt, honey and oil in a 5-quart container (or the larger container you will store your dough in). If you don't have a mixer this big, don't worry because like I said, it's really easy to combine by hand.

Once the first 6 ingredients are combined, mix in the flour. Don't knead. Just stir until the dry ingredients have been thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be very wet. If you have experience in breadmaking, you will be tempted to add more flour. But don't. According to the book, a stiff dough prevents rising whereas a wet dough allows the yeast to create nice air pockets. And again, the book stresses: "Do not knead." Here is my mixer doing the job:

Once the dough mixture is all wet, you're done. Making the master recipe is that simple. Grinding my wheat took about 15 minutes. Measuring and combining the ingredients took about 5 minutes.

The next step is letting the dough rest. Cover, but not airtight, in a large container and allow to rest at room temperature for two to three hours. Here is my bucket... the book gives suppliers for nice containers made especially for dough storage, but I am just using a three-gallon bucket with the lid placed on top but not closed tightly. A five-gallon bucket might have done fine, but would be hard to put in the fridge. You'll see in these next two pictures that you need to have plenty of room for expansion!

You will know that the initial resting is done when the dough rises to a round top and then flattens again... like it popped. Here, it is still rounding up. It flattened just near the top of my bucket, which was covered until I snapped this picture.

After this initial rise, transfer your container to the fridge and let the dough soak for 24 hours to 14 days. It has been our experience that the dough gets more and more sour the longer you keep it. Because we like slightly sour bread, I use my master dough within 48 hours. But, it will keep for two weeks.

Once you are ready to bake your loaves (or loaf if you want to spend five minutes for a fresh loaf every day), spray your bread pans with EVOO cooking spray. Then, pull off a cantaloupe sized ball of dough. This is the only tricky part... you want to make a "gluten cloak". It's like your covering the dough ball with a layer of stretched dough. The dough will be pretty sticky, so use wet hands. To make the gluten cloak, "quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go." Did you get that? I stretch the top layer of dough to underneath the ball, turn it a quarter turn, stretch the dough to the underside again, turn, stretch, turn and stretch to the bottom one last time. That is all the shaping you do. I couldn't take pictures of me in action here, but the picture below shows that the top is a smooth layer of stretched dough... and the underneath is not a pretty sight.

Leave the loaves uncovered to rise for one hour and forty minutes. They will not double in bulk as other breads do. You'll see below that mine have only risen slightly, but the bread still turned out considerably springy for a whole wheat sourdough loaf. The book says to slash the tops of each loaf with a knife. I have had no success with this. This time around, I only slashed half and I found that it made no difference in the end.

5 minutes before the dough is finished rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the rising time is up, place the loaves in the oven (before temperature is reached) and bake for one hour. If you desire a crispy crust, place a shallow pan in the oven when you preheat it. Then, pour a cup of water into the pan immediately after you put your loaves in the oven and close the oven door quickly. My children like a soft crust, so I skip this step.

These rolls were perfectly delicious right out of the oven. The loaves need to cool completely before slicing so they hold together when cut thinly. Here are our rolls... YUM-O!

And here are the four loaves of bread... I am still working on tearing off that cantaloupe sized ball uniformly! You can see that my loaves are not all the same size.

After you try this recipe, please come back to post your comments and thoughts. If you have a question about the process, I'll answer it as far as I'm able. Or, if you learn other tips, please share them with us! Like I said, this book is very helpful. While I've tried to provide you with a reliable, healthy bread you can conveniently make for your family, there are so many more "company breads" worth trying out too!

OOOh... and definitely try making cheese toast with this bread. Very tasty!


Jen said...

I can't wait to try. Thanks so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Guess what? I just made this exact dough/bread yesterday! What a coincidence! :)

Loooove this recipe - I really don't like handling dough, and usually use a bread machine, but this dough has a nice subtle tang reminiscent of mild sour dough.

Noel said...

Yay and thank you. I'm looking forward to trying this. Do you think it will matter if I half the recipe between two large bowls rather than a 3-5 gallon bucket?

Anonymous said...

Yum, I can't wait to make my own bread one of these days. I will definitely refer back to this post when I do, thank you for sharing. Adding the pictures really helps too, clever!

Now... can I move in with you? You always make the yummiest and healthiest food, my tummy growls when I read your blog entries LOL

ServinGsus said...

First of all, this is on my list for our next bread adventure!

Secondly, I changed my blog URL and wanted to let you know that Fields of Grace formerly at is now Graceful Abandon at Not sure if it updates a change when you follow a blog, so there you have it! Have a great weekend =)

Helen said...

Yum! My dough is rising as I type this. I have a question, one point you say a cantaloupe sized ball and later it says a grapefruit sized ball. Is one of these wrong? Thanks so much for the recipe. I'm hoping mine turns out well!!

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Helen.

Sorry for the confusion. Most of the breads in the book are made with a grapefruit sized ball, except the 100% whole wheat bread, which requires more dough, like a small cantaloupe. So that's why the quote on cloaking is different.

Hope this helps, ae

Carrie Beth said...

I am very intrigued by the idea of making my own soaked bread, but also am curious about whether or not the milled flour is ok after a week's time. I have read that flour you mill yourself should be consumed within a week or it becomes carcinogenic. I am sure you know otherwise or this process provides protection from this, but was curious.

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Carrie Beth,

Thanks for your comment. Are you referring to the Vitamin E in the wheat germ going rancid in a week's time and thereby introducing free radicals in our bodies? I have heard of this concern before.

With this artisan bread recipe, the dough is stored in the refrigerator after the initial rise/soaking time. This greatly slows down the oxidation process. However, because of the tart bite when the dough sours more than two days, I bake all my loaves within that time frame.

I am not greatly concerned about the rancidity of my own milled wheat since I use it right away and freeze (or refrigerate, in the case of this dough) what is left over. I would be greatly concerned if I consistently fed my family whole wheat from the store. The shelf life of a whole grain is not long enough for even the distribution and transit.

Hope this helps, Amy Ellen