“King Cake” for Mardi Gras!

Don’t adjust the color balance on your monitor, this “cake” really is purple, green and gold. King Cake, named for the three kings who came to bring gifts to Jesus, is traditionally served during Mardi Gras in New Orleans and throughout the South. Not only is it decorated with the colors of the festival, but it also has a hidden trinket in the dough. I’ve used an almond, but in New Orleans bakers often use a ceramic or plastic doll to represent the baby Jesus. The person who gets the slice with the trinket is responsible for making the King Cake the following year.

There are many versions of this sweet bread, depending on the traditions of different families. Our version is made with Brioche dough which has nutmeg, lemon zest and citron added into it.  The dough can be Braided and/or formed into a Couronne (crown shape) as I have done here. Some bakers even use a cream cheese and praline filling, but we went with a more traditional filling. Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Bread!

Valentine’s day is near and we have a fun way to celebrate. No, that is not dough tinted with red food coloring, but our Red Beet dough from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day! It’s bright color  is perfect to be baked on the holiday all about red hearts. Those who are beet lovers will consider this the best gift ever. If your valentine is not a big fan of this jewel toned root vegetable, you can certainly make the heart-shaped loaf with any of our doughs, especially the chocolate dough.

Thank you all for entering so many wonderful ideas in our pizza contest, we were blown away by your creativity. The winning combination will apear in our upcoming book Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day. We have also picked 5 random winners who will receive a signed copy of HBin5. Those winners are listed below. Continue reading

Soft Thanksgiving Pull Apart Buns!

Happy Thanksgiving! We wish you all a wonderful holiday and lots of fresh bread at your table to share with family and friends. I’m making these soft pull apart buns for our dinner tonight. They are perfect for sopping up gravy and making little turkey sandwiches.  You can do this with any of our doughs, but I used the brioche from ABin5 to get a luxurious texture and the soft crust that so many people associate with this style bun.

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Watching Dough Rise – how high should it go? (Plus, a new member of the Bread in Five family)

We have you mix up your dough in a nice big 6-Quart Food-Storage Container, because over the course of 2 hours it will grow to nearly touch the lid.  Some folks have asked exactly what that should look like, so I mixed up a batch of each Master recipe from ABin5 and HBin5, then sat back and watched them rise. I promise this is more fun than watching paint dry, it will show you exactly what your dough should look like and I’ve set it to a little Johnny Cash (Ooops, apparently I can’t do that. Had to switch to something with a little less….copyright).

We also have an exciting announcement to make, especially for those Brits who are baking our bread or people excited to bake with weights.

Our first book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day was translated for British bakers. Yes, it is still in English, but the recipes are converted to weights. They appear in both ounces and metrics. For those of you Americans excited to bake by weights this will be a welcome edition. The book’s title and look are also changed, but the recipes are the same. Five Minute Bread is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.UK and will be on bookstore shelves in January 2011.

Happy Baking!

Bradley Benn’s Beer Bread video and the winners of the RED STAR YEAST giveaway!

I met Bradley Benn at a pottery class many years ago. He is a master of his craft and a kind and patient teacher to those of us who dabble in clay. Little did I know that he was also a skilled baker, until he showed up in a classic MG with a loaf of fabulous bread. One of the hazards of this career of mine is that people rarely, if ever, bake for me, so this was an especially cherished loaf. He shared not only the bread, but also the recipe. When I decided to put it into Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I adapted his recipe to 100% whole grains. The dough is made with beer, which gives it a jump start on the sourdough flavors we usually wait for. Then we wrap the dough around sauteed onions, rosemary and walnuts. Together they create a bread with so much character and flavor you can eat it alone, but I love it with sharp cheese, grainy mustard and some sweet ham.

Below you will find my first attempt at a video and the recipe for BBBB. I will show you exactly how to roll the dough and prepare it in the pan so that you get onions in every bite. (This same technique can be used to create the raisin bread from last week’s post)

*at the bottom of the post I will announce the 6 lucky winners of last weeks RED STAR YEAST giveaway. Continue reading

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

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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

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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

Calculating nutritional information for our recipes

Return to FAQs page

Return to Gluten-Free FAQs

Many of you have asked about nutritional information… you can use the SparkRecipe calculator, at http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp, to calculate nutritional content for any of our recipes. Remember to adjust for portion size.

The USDA Nutrient Database , at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/ is also useful.

And to calculate your daily calorie requirement try WebMD’s site: http://www.webmd.com/diet/food-fitness-planner/ 

Return to FAQs page

Return to Gluten-Free FAQs

Thanks Peter!

Peter Reinhart is the dean of American bread bakers, possibly the best in the world.  He teaches baking at Johnson & Wales University in Providence RI, has written six books on bread baking, and has won the James Beard and IACP Cookbook of the Year awards.  On any given day, he’s flying around the world spreading the gospel of great bread– Peter’s an international authority on my favorite subject.

So I was pleased to see his latest book, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, which was released on October 27, 2009.  Here was a world authority giving his take on super-fast bread (he doesn’t store his dough so it’s very different than what we do in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day).   Peter acknowledged our books and the quality of our results in his own book.  Here’s what he had to say in Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day:

Page 7:  “… when I first read the instructions for the master hearth bread recipe in a recently published book, I immediately assumed, based on my understanding of dough science, that it contained way too much yeast to work as promised.  How could it possibly last in the refrigerator for even one day without overfermenting while the yeast gobbled up all the released sugar?  How could it possibly create a tasty, moist, and creamy loaf (what some describe as the custard-like quality found in great breads)?  Yet, when I made the recipe, it worked and didn’t overferment.  Sure, I saw areas where the recipe could be tweaked and improved upon, but this didn’t diminish my astonishment at how greatly it exceeded my expectations. Although I have yet to find a scientific, chemical, or biological reason to explain why it works, the results forced me to reconsider all of the premises I once held sacrosanct…”

In case anyone’s wondering if Peter’s really talking about our method, turn to page 204 of his book, where he acknowledges our first book by name, as a resource, and again mentions our “excellent results.”

Thanks Peter!

Baking Bread in a Closed Clay Pot (“Cloche”)– the best crust yet!

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So many people asked us about baking our dough inside a closed cast-iron pan that Zoe did a beautiful post on the subject a few weeks ago.  The cast-iron pan method is based on a much older method, where bread is baked inside a closed clay pot (or “cloche,” meaning “bell” in French).  Both methods depend on trapped steam from the dough to create a perfect crust, but the clay pot has the added benefit of being porous, so moisture is trapped, but also conducted away from the surface as the bread bakes.  I tested the Sassafras brand “La Cloche” product, and I’m very impressed with the crust I’m getting –take a look at the picture above; this crust is thin and shatters when broken (the burned bits are perfect in artisan loaves; that’s how you know you’ve baked long enough).  Keep in mind that these crust results are hard to re-create with loaves very high in whole wheat (because of oils in the wheat’s germ).  The bread above is about 15% whole grains– it’s a light version of the Peasant Loaf on page 46 of the book.  Whole grain breads perform beautifully in “La Cloche,” but the crust tends to be softer and thicker.

For crust aficionados, I think the “La Cloche” results are a little better than what I get inside closed cast-iron.  We didn’t put these two methods in our first book, because we wanted to keep things as simple as possible.  But with results like these, they’re going into he second one (publication date is 10/13/09)! Continue reading