Crisp thin crackers– outside on the grill, NEW VIDEO

First off, sorry for the loud cricket sounds– couldn’t do anything about that, because…

It’s still summer, and I’m still grilling bread, but I wanted to show how to roll dough exceptionally thin for crackers use the outdoor grill as an oven.  The key with crackers is to prevent them from getting scorched.  In Artisan Bread in Five and Healthy Bread in Five we talk about doing crackers at in the 375 – 400 degree F. range (190 – 200 C), and that definitely helps prevent scorching.  You can also use oil on the crackers, and that helps too.  But oil does increase the baking time– my crackers took 20 to 30 minutes to get crisp. And that range depends on whether you get them truly paper-thin.  The thicker ones take a little longer.  So be more patient than I am and get it to less than 1/16-inch thickness– you should almost be able to see through it.

Equipment links:  To temper the grill’s heat (adjust the burners to yield a 375 to 400), I used a baking stone and also a thick commercial-grade aluminum baking sheet.  Recently, I switched to a thin non-handled rolling pin– the French milled style pin, and I feel that it’s easier to control, especially when you’re rolling very thinly.

One other tip: If you bake large flat crackers and don’t cut them before baking, “dock” (puncture) them with a fork before baking or they might puff, which you don’t want with pita.

The idea of crackers has always to have a crisp dried result that stored well– as you can see in the video, these didn’t last long enough to test the theory.  And remember:  serious bakers wear closed-toe footwear!

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Buns for Hot Dogs or Bratwurst, Baked Outside on the Gas Grill!

The heat wave isn’t nearly as bad in Minnesota as it is in on the East coast, but I can’t say that I’m itching to fire up the oven and bake fresh buns for hot dogs or bratwurst.  It’s a cinch to do it on the same grill that you use for your hot dogs or bratwurst, and this video shows you how.  Use any lean dough from either of our books, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If anything in the video’s unclear, just visit back and post a question into the “Comments” field.

One word of caution:  I can’t vouch for the durability of baking stones placed on a gas grill.  I haven’t had any trouble with my half-inch thick stone but the thin ones crack at the drop of a hat.  My guess is that if you call any stone manufacturer, they will tell you not to do this.  None of them warrant stones against cracking (one company did in the past, but they’ve withdrawn that).   I haven’t been listening.

This summer, the son of one of our book’s first testers started a bread business and is delivering bread door to door, by bicycle, right here in Minneapolis.  Check out Bicycle Bread… They were recently featured in the Southwest Journal and were on TV, on Fox9 News (click here to view).

Another interesting little home-town business is the Gourmet Girls, who are making fresh breads using our books as the recipe resource.  Send an e-mail to inquire about homemade artisan bread via local delivery (southern Westchester County, NY).

Click here if you’d like to see the list of past postings on summer grill-breads again… Continue reading

100% Whole Wheat Honey Pita on the Gas Grill (NEW VIDEO)– Michelle Obama’s initiative

As a doctor, I’m constantly being asked whether you can eat bread without gaining weight.  The evidence suggests that you can maintain a healthy weight by limiting your energy intake, whether your diet’s low-carb, low-fat, or has a balanced limitation of calories.  There’s no evidence that limiting calories from carbohydrates (like bread) is better than limiting it in fat or anywhere else.  I bake and eat lots of bread, and I don’t gain weight, even though I spend lots of time testing bread recipes for our books and website.  There’s some evidence that whole grain breads, like this 100% Whole Wheat Pita with Honey, are a better choice than refined white breads.

So I’ve been following Michelle Obama’s initiative to tackle childhood obesity:  I keep hoping she’ll answer my e-mail about getting kids to bake the whole-grain breads for their families.  I may have to keep waiting on that one.  About this recipe… Continue reading

My favorite rye isn’t in our books–here’s how to slash it (careful, it’s sticky)

The rye flour available in supermarkets is delicious, but it’s whole-grain, and that’s not what we grew up with as kids.  Those rye breads from yesteryear were made from “medium” rye (bran and germ-depleted), and the result was lighter.  Bob’s Red Mill and Hodgson Mills rye flours make great breads, but you have to go light with them to re-create what we used to get years ago.

We figured that wasn’t what people were looking for in our books, so we went a little heavier in the recipes we published in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and of course, with much more whole grain in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  In this video, I’m talking about using relatively little of the Bob’s or the Hodgson product.  Follow the recipe at our Back to Basics post, but subsitute 1/2 cup of rye flour (Bob’s or Hodgson Mills) for 1/2 cup of unbleached all-pupose (in the book, the swap is for a full cup). Then, add 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds to the initial mix.  Everything else is the same (in Artisan Bread in Five, we used a whole cup of rye flour, and it’s also a great result– just different).

To clarify a couple of things from the video:  I said to turn and shape the loaf pulling around on three sides– I meant “on four sides;” turn the loaf in quadrants and pull the top around to the bottom to create a “cloak.”  And of course, rest the loaf on on cornmeal or parchment, not on the board where you shaped it or you’d have to lift the fully proofed loaf, which isn’t a good idea.

20 to 30 minutes before baking time, preheat a baking stone to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C), with a metal broiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with rising bread (do not use glass for this purpose or it will shatter).  Using a pastry brush, paint the loaf with water and sprinkle with more caraway seeds.

Slash at least 1/2-inch deep with a serrated bread knife, making perpendicular, not angled cuts, as in the video. Slide loaf onto the baking stone and pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool before slicing, and enjoy!

Suvir’s Lamb Burger on a Sesame Seed Bun!


Jeff and I are just back from doing a presentation at the Tucson Festival of Books. Nothing like baking bread outside and under a perfectly blue sky to get me in the mood for summer. When we returned to MN the snow was all melted and my grill had reemerged ready for use. Burger time. Many of you have asked us for a bun to match your favorite patty. I like my burgers on a light, vaguely sweet brioche bun, topped with sesame seeds and loaded up with condiments. Others have asked for a bun sturdy enough to hold up to a mega-burger. No matter what dough you choose to use these directions will get you the right shape.

I make a decent burger, but nothing really to write home about. The one I want to introduce you to came from my friend Suvir Saran’s book American Masala. It is a combination of ground lamb, mint, lemon and a kick from cayenne pepper. The burger is so full of flavor and a touch of heat that you don’t need anything else with it, but in case you are like me and want it dripping with a cilantro-yogurt sauce and a bit of crunchy salad for texture I’ve included Suvir’s recipes for those as well. This burger is loved not only by me, but my boys said it was the best I’ve ever made! This recipe first came to fame on the pages of Food & Wine magazine and now Suvir’s lamb burgers are also available through Allen Brothers Catalog. Continue reading

Cinnamon Swirl French Toast


It is Sunday morning, the sun is shining, the snow is finally melting and I’m as happy as could be! Seems the perfect time to have a lavish, albeit easy, breakfast. Last night I took out my bucket of brioche dough, rolled in some cinnamon sugar and baked a gorgeous swirly bread. This morning I sliced it, soaked it in custard and made it into sublime French toast. Nothing better than that and with a bucket of dough on hand it is quick and easy.

Here are some other great breakfast ideas from our books/website:

Bacon & Egg in Toast

Homemade English Muffins

Aunt Melissa’s Granola

Almond Bear Claws

Fresh Fruit “Muffins”

Apricot Pastry

Breakfast Pizza

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Back to Basics ~ tips and techniques to create a great loaf in 5 minutes a day.


Note that there is an updated version of this post, click here to view.

Recently we have seen lots of new readers on the website who are asking wonderful questions about how to perfect their loaves. First I’d like to say welcome to the site and thank you for trying the bread. As I bake through the basic Master recipe from ABin5 I will try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and also introduce you to a few new pieces of equipment I’ve recently started to use that make the whole experience just a little easier.  The goal is to create a large batch of dough that stores in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. That’s why our method saves  you so much time– all the mixing and prep is divided over four one-pound loaves.

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Whole Grain Pumpernickel, and a look at our new FAQs page


The “black and white” pumpernickel/rye braid is a New York specialty that brings back fond memories for me.  Mark Luinenburg’s photo above is downright savory; you can almost hear the caraway seeds crunching in your mouth.  Pumpernickel is a kind of rye, and we included a whole grain version in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which also has a rustic Bavarian-Style pumpernickel based on the same dough.  Let’s throw together the recipe for this healthy and hearty dough, plus talk about a new feature on our website:  The FAQs–Frequently Asked Questions tabContinue reading

Whole Grain Challah With Cranberries and Orange Zest


Our new book has a terrific braided challah with whole wheat and wheat germ, and I’ve been playing with a variation that includes cranberries and orange zest.  This same challah recipe lends itself to many other holiday traditions as well, forming the basis in our book for Scandinavian Christmas breads like Pulla and Julekage.  It’s really just a lightly enriched yeast dough that is very, very versatile.  The recipe… Continue reading

Cornell Bread (and announcing our 3rd book: Artisan Pizza+Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day…)


Return to FAQs page

(… and a recipe for pitas from so-called “Cornell” dough).  Our third book will be officially released on October 25, 2011, but it’s now available for Pre-Order on Amazon! To view the book’s cover, which is now finalized, click here. It will have pizza and flatbreads from all over the world—plus, the recipes will be complemented with soup, salad, and dip recipes so that these pizzas and flatbreads become the basis of an entire five-minute meal.  As in all our books, the idea is to do all the mixing once, but serve many times from a big batch.  That’s a perfect fit for soups and dips (and you can get a salad ready while your bread’s in the oven).

Turns out that you can make great flatbreads (like the pitas above) using a modification of our Whole Grain Master Recipe (that original appears in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day).  The modification was inspired by “Cornell Bread,” a bread baked from soy-enriched dough originally developed as a vegetarian protein source during World War II.  Many of you have asked us about whether our recipes work with some soy flour— they do…          Return to FAQs page, or scroll down for more on Cornell Pitas…

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