Introduction: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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

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

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

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

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