Introduction: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Picture of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Spend five minutes a day, and less than forty cents a loaf, making great bread from scratch. Even if you think you can't bake, even if you think you don't have time, TRY IT! I can't bake, and I work full time, but I will never buy bread again. The secret is to make a large batch of no-knead dough which will keep two weeks or more in the fridge. When you want a loaf, cut off a hunk of dough and pop it in the oven. Done. No kneading, no proofing of yeast, and less than five minutes a day.

All of the credit for this recipe and technique goes to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, authors of "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking" St. Martin's Press, 2007, ISBN-13:978-0-312-36291-1, ISBN-10:0-312-36291-9, and is used with their permission.

I, the author of this Instructable, am in no way affiliated with Hertzberg and Francois, or St. Martin's Press, and I have no financial interest at stake. I just like great, quick, cheap bread, and I want to spread the word. My fiance calls me "the bread messiah".
After working as a professional cook for seven years, I needed a change, and I have worked for the last ten years in the building trades. Jacqueline and I cook from scratch daily, but the baking duties usually fell upon her, as she is a talented baker and I am inept when dealing with dough. A little over a year and a half ago, Jacque started law school, and, alas, had no more time to bake. I heard about this book in December of '08, bought it just after New Year's, and we haven't bought a loaf of bread, or roll, or bun, or pizza crust since, and I am still working 40 hours a week, and Jacque even more.

Five minutes a day, on average, is really all it takes.

This Instructable will present the basic recipe, used to make boules, baguettes, and ciabatta, and many other variations. I will answer some questions about the basic recipe as they come up, but for the full answers, and the recipes for Caraway Rye, European Peasant Bread, Bagels, Bialys, Pumpernickel, 100% Whole Wheat, Brioche, Broa, Pretzels, Carmel Pecan Rolls, and dozens more, buy the book. It worth every penny, and Hertzberg and Francois deserve to be recompensed for their brilliant work.

Step 1: Equipment and Ingredients

Picture of Equipment and Ingredients

This is for an eight-loaf batch. It can easily be halved. Just remember the ratio 6:3:3:13.


Pizza stone- I got mine, with accessories, at the local hardware/home store for $13
1 cup measuring cup (Don't use a 2 cupper. More on that later)
1 Tablespoon measure
Flat shallow pan- a broiler tray or large cake pan works great DO NOT USE A GLASS OR PYREX PAN
Serrated bread knife
A large bin, bucket, or tub with a NON-AIRTIGHT lid for the dough. (I use an 8qt. foodsafe insert)


Pizza peel (the wooden paddle thing)


6C./1450g Lukewarm Water (I use tap)
3 Tablespoons/28g Active Dry Yeast, or four packets (I use Red Star)
3 Tablespoons/50g Kosher or flake salt (I use Morton's)
13C./1850g All-Purpose Unbleached Flour (I use whatever is on sale)
DON'T actually measure out the flour yet.

I actually only use about 2T. salt. Some people prefer less, and others more, but 3 T is a good starting point.

Only use All-purpose Unbleached flour, as other types of flour are not interchangeable due to the varying gluten contents. Feel free to experiment, but results are not guaranteed. Get the book to find many other recipes using different types of flour.

Step 2: Measuring and Mixing

Picture of Measuring and Mixing
Put the lukewarm water in the bin, and then add the yeastie-beasties and the salt. Mix it up a little and then add the flour. I use my hands, but a spoon will work too. DO NOT knead, just mix it gently until the flour is incorporated. In the video, I am measuring the flour into a bowl, but I usually measure it straight into the bin with the water etc. The container should be large enough to allow the dough room to double in volume. I use an 8 quart container, and it just barely fits.

IMPORTANT: The flour is measured using the "scoop and sweep" method. Watch the video. Scoop out a cup at a time and then level it off with something straight. Don't pack it in. Don't lose count. Don't use a 2 cup measure, it will come out wrong.

The dough will be very loose and wet. This is just what you want. You may have to add a tiny bit more water to get all of the flour mixed in.

For those that are interested, or live in metric-world, the book and the ABin5 website give metric and oz./lbs. conversions.

Let the dough sit out on the counter for about 2 hours, and then put it in the fridge.

This is perhaps the place for one of the best comments yet:

Jul 21, 2009. 10:41 AM
His Own says:
I followed the recipe exactly, decreasing the salt as is discussed for high altitude, and have had the most beautiful little brown crackly loaves, just as described. It IS a funny, thin, watery, sticky dough, but it works perfectly. I think some of the folks need to just DO the recipe as written, not deciding along the way that the dough is not right. They need to just make it, bake it, taste it, and ONLY THEN decide whether the recipe is correct as written.

Aeray, Thanks for the terrific Instructable! I already have several friends making your bread, and loving it. It really is amazing that such a totally different (and EASY) approach to bread making yields such perfect loaves. I find this, and ALL white breads a little bland, but I should be able to fix that pretty easily with herbs, whole wheat, longer storage of the dough, etc. Again, Thanks!

Step 3: Shaping and Baking

Picture of Shaping and Baking
The next day, or even a few hours later, the dough from the fridge will be much easier to handle.
About an hour before baking, pull the bin of dough out of the fridge, remove the lid, and dust the surface of a corner of the dough with a bit of flour. Dust your pizza peel (or cutting board, or rimless baking sheet) as well.

Make sure your hands are well floured. Reach into the bin and pull out a grapefruit-sized hunk of dough, cutting it off with the serrated knife.

GENTLY pull the outer surface of the dough around to the bottom of the ball, forming a gluten "cloak" around it. Less is more here. Don't manhandle or squeeze the dough. This should take less than 30 seconds. Don't worry about what the bottom looks like.

Place the loaf on the peel and let it sit for about an hour. It won't rise much at all, and this is normal and O.K.

Half an hour before baking, turn the oven on to 450 Fahrenheit, placing the stone on the middle rack, and the broiler pan below it.

After the loaf has rested for an hour (don't worry if it hasn't raised much), fill a cup with 1 cup of hot water from the tap and set it beside the stove. Dust the top of the loaf with a bit more flour and slash it a few times with the serrated knife.

Slide the loaf onto the stone in the over and immediately pour the cup of hot water into the broiler pan. Shut the door quickly, and set the timer for 35 minutes.

When the bread is done, thumping it on the bottom with your thumb will sound hollow, and as it cools there will be a surprisingly loud crackling sound from the crust.

If you plan on slicing the bread or eating it later, let it cool fully before doing so, but I'll bet that you won't be able to resist tearing into it immediately!

Step 4: Storing the Dough

Put the bin of dough back in the fridge. The dough will last two weeks or more. Just repeat step 3 whenever you want a loaf. After two weeks, it stops rising as well, but it still works great for pizza crust and flatbreads.
After a few days, a nice sourdough flavor begins to develop, and I often make several batches of bread in a row without washing out the bin to maintain that flavor (Yes, this is on the author's suggestion, and no it isn't dangerous or nasty).
Other tips and comments on this recipe can be found at


oakironworker (author)2010-10-31

eating it right know at midnight love it thank you

aeray (author)oakironworker2010-11-01

You're welcome. Share.

syuliya (author)2010-07-29

LOVE THE RECIPE, SUPER EASY!!! Thank you so much, just made my first loaf today. Definitely hooked on bread making.

divalea (author)2010-04-24

I just made my first loaf. It has been out of the oven less than three minutes and I am eating a piece with butter and I am in BREAD HEAVEN.

My variations: I used an airbake-type cookie sheet, and I used unbleached flour (unbleached is what I had). I did use the roasting pan and water. Decent oven spring, amazing crust top and bottom, and great crumb.

Thanks so much for his Instructable! I LOVE making bread, but didn't often because of the work involved. Now? Bread every day!

Kaki (author)divalea2010-05-20

I have a lot of bleached flour at home, did you just follow the recipe exactly or did you change it? I'm afraid that it might be a big difference with the whole bleached/unbleached flour thing! :P

aeray (author)divalea2010-04-25

Glad you like it. Unbleached flour is actually what IS called for in the recipe.

divalea (author)aeray2010-04-25

Sorry, I meant BLEACHED. I used bleached flour. I blame my head cold for the mistake!

Anyway, I made another loaf today using a $1.50 "pizza stone" (unglazed red tile) from Home Depot. I had to handle the loaf again to get it off the sheet it was rising on, but the spring was STILL better than last night. (Do I correctly credit an "older" dough and a stone instead of cookie sheet?)

aeray (author)divalea2010-04-25

You are giving credit where credit is due. Make sure you flour or cornmeal the rising surface well, and try using a dough knife to gently urge the loaf off of it.

violamamma (author)2010-05-12

 This recipe is fantastic!  I cut it in quarter, actually, to make 2 loaves and it was great.  Delicious, beautiful bread. I followed the recipe exactly to the t (well, minus making only 2 loaves instead of 8).  Thank you for posting this! I will definitely look into the book, as well. Thank you!

divalea (author)2010-05-06

Made my second batch of dough today, using an unwashed container and unbleached flour. World. Of. Difference in taste and texture, which was already good.
The first bread from this batch was a pizza crust. Taking what I learned about goopy dough for focaccia from The Paupered Chef, I spread olive oil on a cookie sheet, plopped down a floured 1.5 grapefruit-sized hunk of dough and rolled it roughly square. I then dented it all over using two fingers (like those holes in crackers, only big), and brushed it with more olive oil.
13 minutes in a preheated 450 degree oven later, beautiful crust. I covered it with sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and cooked chicken tossed in olive oil and spices and put in back in the oven at 450 for 6-7 minutes to melt the cheese and heat the sauce and chicken through.
Amazing texture--crispy, but not dry, smooth but not greasy mouth feel from the olive oil, bouncy inside.

I'm telling you doubters--the wet sloppy mess is for real.

CementTruck (author)2010-04-28

made the dough last night and baked it tonight. That was good! I've now got a new favorite pastime!!! ; )

Thanks for posting the instructable.

SeaSkyShore (author)2010-04-08

I stumbled across this Instructable about a year ago and I have been using it constantly ever since. I can not say enough about how awesome this recipe is!

I used the cake container (The large rectangular ones you can get from any bakery) from my birthday cake and it works great as the dough container. I make loaves of bread and pizza all the time with this dough (3 yesterday for the neighbors and friends). Thank you so much for this instructable, I never buy bread anymore!

aeray (author)SeaSkyShore2010-04-08

Glad you like it. Get your hands on the book. It has many other recipes and variations. They also have a new book that is focused on whole-grain and even gluten-free breads.

SeaSkyShore (author)aeray2010-04-09

I have recommended this recipe and the book to so many people. It is a wonderful investment. It has helped my family save so much money and in this economy every penny counts. It sure helps that the bread is better than any loaf I could get at the grocery :)

Phoghat (author)2009-07-31

Update: My first loaf came out at 7:35 AM EDT. Looked a little smaller than I expected. Set it out to cool and 15 minutes late cut off a chunk added unsweetened butter and ate. DELICIOUS> Note I followed the directions to the letter, I'm located in NY City, so I'm pretty much at sea level. Crust was fantastic, I haven't had bread like this since my neighborhood bakery went belly up back in the 80s. No kiding, if this was a little larger (~ 1LB loaf) youd pay 3-4 bucks and it wouldn't be so good. Plenty of dough left in the fridge, will make some more tonight. Maybe weigh out the dough and cut into portions to make rolls. Surprise my sister

Phoghat (author)2009-07-31

Just tried this. Great instructions and video, results were eggzactly as pictured. I dusted everything with more than "just a bit" of flour to make things easier for me. Disclaimer: I'm a pretty good cook, but have NEVER baked a cake or bread in my life, ergo, if it works for me, I can only assume it would work for the lowliest squib out there. BTW, Started yesterday, baked this AM to have fresh bread with my breakfast. Wazz GREAT!

His Own (author)2009-07-21

I followed the recipe exactly, decreasing the salt as is discussed for high altitude, and have had the most beautiful little brown crackly loaves, just as described. It IS a funny, thin, watery, sticky dough, but it works perfectly. I think some of the folks need to just DO the recipe as written, not deciding along the way that the dough is not right. They need to just make it, bake it, taste it, and ONLY THEN decide whether the recipe is correct as written. Aeray, Thanks for the terrific Instructable! I already have several friends making your bread, and loving it. It really is amazing that such a totally different (and EASY) approach to bread making yields such perfect loaves. I find this, and ALL white breads a little bland, but I should be able to fix that pretty easily with herbs, whole wheat, longer storage of the dough, etc. Again, Thanks!

eash (author)2009-04-10

Wow, four loaves later I finally managed to get a picture. This bread is delicious. My boyfriend has decided that we're never buying a loaf again. Thanks so much for sharing! Sorry about the poor quality of the picture. I had to take it with my phone as soon as it got out of the oven or I would've had to wrestle it away from the man. lol

aeray (author)eash2009-04-10

Your pic didn't upload, but I am anxious to see it.

eash (author)aeray2009-04-10

Hm, how very strange. Let's try this again. You can see that it's on parchment paper. I don't have a pizza stone, so I stole a terracotta saucer out from under one of my plants and used it instead. It works very well.

prunedanish (author)eash2009-05-10

I tried your trick of using a terracotta plant saucer. worked beautifully. thanks

aeray (author)eash2009-04-11

Excellent. Thanks.

HollyHarken (author)2009-05-05

Aeray, Thanks for this great Instructable! Because of it I went and borrowed the book from the library. Yesterday I made my first boule and believe me it was very hard to let it cool enough to cut. I had 3 slices before I knew it. I've been baking bread for 26 years and this is the closest that I've come to having a bread that I used to eat as a kid growing up in Germany. There is nothing as great as eating a slice of nice crusty homemade bread. Other than sex of course. Thank you for reintroducing me to great bread! :) I've been sharing your Instructable with friends and family ever since I found it. You've done us all a great service by putting together such a fantastic Instructable. With thanks, Holly

aeray (author)HollyHarken2009-05-05

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the great comment.

bleepblorp (author)2009-04-06

Oh man. I tried this recipe last night with a couple improvisations and I'm a fan. I'll never buy a loaf of bread again, not so long as I have access to dough and an oven. Kudos.

aeray (author)bleepblorp2009-04-06

Yep, I haven't bought bread since New Years. I am curious about your improvisations...

Siecle made it! (author)2016-08-16

During the last month, I've made five loaves using this recipe and method. i just have one word: FANTASTIC. It's soooooo easy to get this beautiful bread loaf that I could devour plain in just a few minutes. Currently have a dough batch in my fridge which I added some rye flour too, this is going to be interesting!

aeray (author)Siecle2016-08-16

Thanks for the photo. I'd highly recommend getting the book(s), lots of other bread recipes. I just made pitas last night with the basic recipe.

gomibakou (author)2016-01-26


I cannot watch the videos, is there any problem with them? I tried different browsers (updating plugins, pasting the links directly in some installed flash players, etc.), even a friend (in another country) couldn't watch them. The videos always are "loading" showing a black screen. I tried different ways to access them without success.

I'm really interested, especially in the gluten cloak...

aeray (author)2015-09-24

No, no, you haven't offended me at all. I just noticed you were making a bunch of comments. A lot of public libraries have the books now, so that might be a good resource for getting started. Also, there were a few errors in the first printing of the first book, so check the ABin5 website for the corrections. A few of them are important.

capernius (author)2015-09-24


this book is mine! TY for this recipe, as I am one who lives on bread...I'll eat about 2 maybe 3 loaves a week....this is not just meals & sandwiches, but snacks as well. : ) I love bread, & now, thanks to you, I have a new recipe!! TY Sir! I'm happier than a kitten chasing a leaky cow! : )

aeray (author)capernius2015-09-24

You're really on a roll with the comments today! The second ABin5 book is also good. Make sure you try the zaatar flatbread from the first book, and the broa.

capernius (author)aeray2015-09-24

Dear Sir/Madam:
If I have said anything to upset you, or anything that was less than respectful, I humbly apologize. That was never my intention.
I have found a new bread recipe that is not only easy to do, but very delicious to say the least...And I have you to thank for this.
Currently I do not own any of the books this author has written, but that is gonna change REAL QUICK. If this recipe is any indication of what I can expect of his/her books, then I shall be in chef's heaven. LOL

Thank you for enlightening me to a "new frontier". : )


alexlloyd (author)2015-09-02

I made it and it is great. What about convection, does that change the time baking characteristics.

aeray (author)alexlloyd2015-09-02

Lower the temp by 25°F and make sure to rotate the loaf one or twice for even browning. It should cook slightly faster as well.

Leah Michealis (author)2015-04-26

Just curious but how wet should your dough be before you bake it. Mine was really dry and falling apart so I added just a touch more water and it all stuck together but only barely.

aeray (author)Leah Michealis2015-04-27

It should be extremely wet, to the point that it is fairly difficult to work with. I think you made a measurement error somewhere.

pefferie made it! (author)2015-04-18

Fantastic recipe! Thanks a lot for sharing - I'll be getting the book for Father's day. For my second batch, I increased the quantities by ~ 1/4:

1 full bag of flour

5 packets of yeast

3.5 TSP of salt

7.5 cups of water.

I made an attempt to make an even lazier version where I put the baguette into the oven the night day before and programmed the oven so that I'd get warm bread when I get up. It mostly worked out OK; the two main problems were that it didn't crack up in the middle like in this picture because the cuts I made completely closed up overnight and that the dough seeped through the perforations in the baguette rack making the baguette impossible to remove. The taste and the consistency were good nonetheless.

Next time I will attempt a slightly less lazy version where I'd shape the dough the night before and program the oven to preheat by the time I get up. That would shorten the time to just 30-35 minutes before I get the bread the next day.

sylrpt (author)2014-11-19

not sure if this is still active but have a question - first loaves came out great - when I did the last of the first batch (had only used half and had refrigerated), used same methods and there was a huge hole between the crust and the loaf -why would that happen? Have mixed up another batch now and will try again. Taste was phenomenal though!

aeray (author)sylrpt2014-11-19

The gluten cloak is what you are forming around the outside of the ball of dough when you shape the loaf. It is hard to explain, so watch the video about shaping the loaf.

aeray (author)sylrpt2014-11-19

Sometimes that just happens, with all breads. My only suggestion would be to take extra care making the "gluten cloak" while at the same time not over handling the dough. That or fill the hole with jam and butter.

sylrpt (author)aeray2014-11-19

Like your suggestion of butter or jam! That's what my guests did - but what is the "gluten cloak"?

yrplummer (author)2014-10-06

Thank you for this instructable. I had borrowed the book from the library and am now trying to buy it in Australia at a reasonable price. I have just mixed up my first dough which is now resting. I also have made my our sourdough mother and am still playing with a recipe.....i feel i have bread running in my veins.

Thomhannah13 (author)2014-02-16

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! From all the way down here in New Zealand I have just followed your recipe exactly for at least the last few months (much to everyones delight) and it comes out perfectly every time! I also love the tip about not cleaning the bowl to allow a sourdough flavour to develop. Can I ask, how long can you keep reusing the bowl till you need to clean it? I have just finished my dough and am smelling the lovely sourdough bowl, but have been using it for a month and would hate to throw away that smell by washing it ifI didn't need to.... any help appreciated. Thanks for posting this recipe! Do you have any wholemeal loaves as good as this? Thanks

aeray (author)Thomhannah132014-02-16

I reuse my container until the edges get too crusty. You can save a small amount of the sour dough (1/2 cup or so), wash the container, and then add the reserved dough to the next batch to keep it going.

The authors have a few whole meal recipes in the first book, but they also have another book, a sequel, "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" that I would recommend. They only gave me permission to write up this recipe though, so go get the book.

Thomhannah13 (author)aeray2014-02-16

Great thank you so much! I'm looking forward to my lunch - another loaf of fresh bread!

Jackoffmanytrades (author)2013-09-25

Someone said salt kills yeast, it will if the two are dry mixed first. But if the salt is discord it will work. When I make bread I need it and it turns out great, and I bet it's the same amount of work as yours. I've done the no need breads and they turn out heavy and watery on the inside. But a kneaded bread turns out great. The more it rises the more fluffy it is. Good luck everyone.

aeray (author)Jackoffmanytrades2013-09-25

Try this one before you knock it. Heavy and gummy no-knead bread can be cured by:
1) double check your oven temp with a reliable, calibrated thermometer.
2) resting the dough longer (15 min or so)
3) increase the flour slightly (1/4 cup at a time).
4) bake 10 min longer.

frollard (author)2013-01-27

Not sure if my water is less wet than yours...I quartered the recipe and measured pretty carefully, and the dough took a lot more water to get it to become integrated/sticky. Tomorrow will tell :D Can't wait!

frollard (author)frollard2013-01-27

Well, it turned out - loaf on the left is about 5 inches across, very small, didn't rise much, but dense inside is pretty uuber yummy.

My yeast is pretty old - gonna try again with new yeast to get a bit more oomph and see if I get some more flavour (right now its just 'bread') - little or no baking smell in the house.

About This Instructable




Bio: Craftsman of fortune. Less is more, and simpler is better.
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