Artisan bread flavor without the work!

A frequently asked question is…”How do I get that sour characteristic of artisan bread without having to use a starter, which is way too high maintenance?”

The answer is easy with our bread method, just wait. I mean mix up your dough, let it rise, use some if you need to immediately and then let the rest of the batch sit in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Don’t feed it, just wait. After the 2nd day you will notice that the flavor is more complex and is starting to take on the characteristics in artisan bread that you crave: sourdough flavor, larger air holes, nice “custard” crumb and crisp tin crust. As it ages it improves, like all of us! The way I maintain that flavor in the next batch is to leave a piece from an “old” dough in the bucket and just dump the ingredients for a fresh batch right on top.

This however should be avoided with the doughs that use egg! I find that even the brioche dough is nicer after a few days, but it has limits and can’t last more than 5 days without being frozen.

When you first start baking bread with our method it is hard to wait, it is too tempting to bake fresh bread every day, but the results of your patience will please you!

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62 thoughts on “Artisan bread flavor without the work!

    • I have a question re: storage for the dough. I have some dough that’s been in the fridge about a week and a half. It is primarily whole wheat, but does contain white AP flour. It has a very pungent smell (is it alcohol?), is this ok?? Is that what a sourdough should smell like? I know the book says I can go up to 14 days. Thanks!

      • Hi Hannah,

        Yes, you are absolutely right, the smell is alcohol. It is a biproduct of the gas created by yeast. It is completely natural. Some folks are more sensitive to the smell than others. I for one am quite sensitive to it and have poked holes in the lids of my buckets to allow the gases to escape, which eliminates the problem.

        Thanks, Zoë

  1. I love your bread recipe, and love watching your video. My question is about the baking. I saw a video where they baked it in a covered pot versus yours baked on a stone or cookie sheet with a pan of water. Baking in a covered pot seems easier to me as it provides the needed moisture. What do you think? thanks!

  2. Hi Beryl,

    The covered pot method works beautifully with our dough! It is just limiting in terms of the style of loaf you can make. You can try both ways depending on what style bread you want!

    Thanks, Zoë

  3. Hi, I’m also Zoe, hope that doesn’t confuse things. I have been taking a small piece of dough, about the size of a large tangerine, out of each batch after the first rise, setting it aside, and then when I make the next batch of dough I mix that piece into it. I make dough somewhere between 4-7 times a week (I have 5 people in my family plus assorted kids friends who devour the bread). I’ve been doing this set-aside thing for about 3 weeks. I feel like the bread is getting better and better. Did your book recommend this technique, or did I read it somewhere else? Is it okay to do that? Everything I find about starters on the Web seems much more complicated than what I am doing.

  4. Zoe: We do almost the exact same thing in the book, it’s the “old dough” technique. Related to that, don’t wash our your dough bucket between batches (unless it’s got egg or milk in it).

  5. I made my first loaf of bread this morning. It was a little to salty for my taste but I am used to the other bread recipes. Do you know if I could us some sugar in the dough?

    • Hi Ashley,

      You can put a small amount of sugar in the dough or you can just adjust the salt to your liking. All of our recipes are tested with kosher salt, so keep in mind if you use regular table salt the dough will be too salty. Here is a little more information: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=139

      Enjoy the bread! Zoë

  6. I would be interested in the recipe that Pat Parkin mentioned. I have been playing around with sourdough starter to make bread and hotcakes and thought I would like to try it with your master recipe. She mentioned that she did the recipe with sourdough starter and I wondered what the proportions she used were.

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