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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bread Blogathon contd - Healthy Bread in 5

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day is by the authors Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, who also wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minute a Day. The concept of this book is to use a lot more of whole grains in the recipes, and as my quest has been to figure out that perfect whole wheat bread, I had to pick this one up!

After a weeks of dilly dallying, I tried the first recipe at last during the last week. What makes these recipes even more doable for me is the fact that these are no-knead recipes! I have a few issues with my neck, which make it really tough to do the usual "knead to window" kind of recipes :(. Well the results of my first trial were pretty pretty decent, so I thought I should put it down here. I will put down the basic proportions and details, but not the complete recipe as-is from the book, as I'm not sure if that would involve any violations. In case anyone reading has any specific doubts that I might have missed out, do ask away and I'll try to clarify.

This is from what they call the Master Recipe, which makes enough for 4 free form loaves, or 2 loaves of Sandwich bread.

Whole Wheat Flour - 5 1/2 cups

All purpose flour - 2 cups

Granulated yeast - 1 1/2 tbsp (I used instant yeast, so reduced the quantity to 75%)

Salt - 1 tbsp

Vital Wheat Gluten - 1/4 cup

Lukewarm water - 4 cups

Cornflour or parchment paper for the pizza peel

1 - 2 tbsp of whole seed mixture like sesame for sprinkling on top

The 5 minutes that is a part of the title of the book refers to the preparation time that you actually need to spend before baking a loaf. It really is an accurate claim, much to my surprise!

Mix all ingredients mentioned up to the water, using a wooden stick, no kneading required at all. Only mix until everything comes together well. Use the mixing bowl itself, or a large container with enough space for the rise, and leave it out for 2 hours until the mixture has doubled in size and nearly started to collapse or flatten on top. Now put it in the refrigerator and leave it to "develop flavour". This dough can be refrigerated for up to 14 days, and it is recommended to at least leave it overnight before your first loaf. For the first 48 hours in the fridge, leave the lid open a crack, so that any gases formed can escape easily.

I was most satisfied with my sandwich loaf, so that is what I will be describing here. The book recommends using only non-stick pans but I used a normal metal/aluminium one with no problems at all. The shaping involved for this loaf is also supposed to be a very quick exercise not involving more than 20-30 seconds of work else the dough will get overworked. For the "Hearty Whole Wheat Sandwich loaf" remove 2 pounds of dough and quickly shape into an oval shape. Stretch it out a bit and put it into the prepared loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour 45 minutes.

For most other recipes, a baking stone is recommended but it is not strictly necessary when you are using a loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (for at least a half hour if using the baking stone). Put in a broiler tray at any level that would not interfere with the rising bread - this is used for forming that great crust with the steam that is generated. Just before baking, paint the top with water and make diagonal cuts on the top. Sprinkle the seeds if required and bake for 40-45 minutes. Pour 1 cup of water in the broiler tray if using that method just before closing the oven door.

Phew!! Hope that all made sense, let me know if I missed out any details. In my oven I also use an aluminium foil over the top after the halfway mark as the loaves get blackened/burnt on top otherwise.


  1. So basically I need to come to your place and take some baking classes :)

    1. Will practise a few more times before you make it here Aparna, and then I'll hold you to it :). We definitely must do some baking sessions together!

    2. I second Aparna, Apster! I'm coming over too :-)

  2. Hey Aparna -- please check my last post
    Check the site They are reproducing so many of our blogs. Your's too. A bunch of us bloggers decided to carry this post today. Do join us.

    1. Thanks for the warning Obsessivemom - are they claiming that we are in some way associated with them.. Grrr.. they got it coming.

    2. Will put up a post soon, also using my biggest networking weapon - FB ;). Connect to me as "Aparna George" there and we'll set a fire under their a**