There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
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This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Friday, January 15, 2010

HB in 5 Official Kick-off: Master Recipe (1 of 42)

First, the compulsory exercises.
For this Bread Braid we are making 1 Loaf of Bread, an Epi (wheat stalk) or Wreath shaped bread, and Spicy Whole Grain Snack Crackers using the Master Recipe.   I used a pound of dough to make a boule (ball) for my loaf.
I formed the dough in to a ball and let it rest and rise. Then I brushed it with water, sprinkled with mixed seeds, and baked it.  I always use parchment paper under the bread because I get too depressed and/or frustrated if the dough sticks to the peel.  I do sprinkle the parchment paper with cornmeal to give it a little more artisan feel, and if I remember I slide the bread  off the paper after 2/3 of the baking time so the bottom crisps a bit better on the stone. 

The loaf turned out very well, especially for a bread with so much whole grain.

I also used the dough to make a Wreath for Christmas Dinner.

I alternated the "leaves" in and out, but I think it would have looked better if I had only positioned them to the outside.

Finally, I made the Spicy Crackers.  I rolled the dough out directly on parchment paper, docked it with my trusty docking tool (which I got from a medieval torture supply store), and sprinkled it with chili powder and some mixed seeds.  Then I used a pizza cutter to cut the dough into crackers.  I baked these "as was" right on the parchment paper, rather than trying to move them to a cookie sheet as suggested in the recipe.  That process, to me, seemed a formula for extra stress and frustration. 

As the crackers baked they shrank away from  each other nicely. These were actually my second effort at the crackers, and I learned two things:  1) work with small portions of dough to more easily roll them thin enough, and 2) cut the crackers small, they crisp better. 

For the "freestyle" portion of the program I  used some of the dough to make pitas.
I always get a kick out of the way they puff up, and they are quick--no rising time and 5-7 minutes baking time. 

I used scissors to cut each pita in half around the equator, and then cut each half into 8 wedges.  I topped them with some crab salad (crabmeat, mayo, shredded Swiss cheese, finely chopped onion, roasted peppers and celery) and baked them for about 10-12 minutes at 350, until lightly browned.  My peeps ate these real good. 

On the subject of pitas, Jeff recently posted a recipe for pitas using a modified Master Recipe for Cornell Bread.  Although Jeff  uses the Cornell dough to make pitas, he also indicates that the Master Recipe works well for pitas, as I can attest, and that the Cornell Bread works well for loaves, just bake as for the Master Recipe.

Finally, I used the dough to make one other thing, but I am not quite sure what.  It was either a calzone or a stromboli.   According to Wikipedia, "[c]alzones are similar to stromboli but traditionally the two are distinct dishes. A common misconception is that the ingredients are the primary difference between the two. The ingredients are actually at the discretion of the chef. Although most strombolis are rolled [like a cinnamon roll], strombolis have also been known to be prepared like a calzone [folded], where the only difference is that a stromboli has the sauce inside of the folded crust, where the calzone is served with dipping sauce on the side."    In AB in 5 Jeff and Zoe cut slits in the top of their calzone but not in the top of their stromboli. 

Mine was folded like a calzone, with the sauce on the inside like a stromboli, so neither it nor I know what it was--but it was good.  I rolled out the dough in corn meal instead of flour.  I often do this with pizza crusts because it gives the crust a crunchy/chewy texture that is a nice change.  Then I docked it, though I would not do that again, at least not on the bottom.  It made the crust crisp, but allowed some leakage through the holes.  I layered it with ham, cranberry mustard (leftover homemade cranberry relish mixed with some Dijon and whole grain mustard) spinach, roasted red peppers and some Swiss cheese.
I baked it for about 25 minutes at 400.  

For other ideas on calzones (or stromboli) check out "Calzones for Lunch" at the AB in 5 website.   
And that, as they say, is all folks.  Please check out all the other things the rest of the group did with this dough by following the links at the Big Black Dog.  To me, the most amazing thing about these doughs is their versatility--there is almost no limit to what you can make with them.  So why not pick up a copy of HB in 5 and join us! 


  1. Loved your sandwiches..........thanks for the ingredients!!! Great post all around....

  2. Wow - bread, crackers, wreaths, calzones, and pita bread! Very impressive!!

  3. WOW Geoff, you really went all out! Love the calzones you made and the wreath is wonderful.

  4. I wish I would have known about not trying to separate the crackers before baking when I made mine! Great idea. That is such a beautiful wreath.

  5. All of your breads look so wonderful! I love the picture of the puffed up pitas. I look forward to seeing more of your breads during the challenge!

    Thanks, Zoë François

  6. I love the calzone, such fun goodies inside. And I love the way you say things (First, the compulsory exercises).

  7. Wonderful! Glad to get some hints on the calzone/stromboli! I like the idea of docking the top of it! I also love the pitas!

  8. Love that you made so many different things. Now I want calzones. :)

  9. This blog is one the best i've seen!!! Not only does the bread look great, but the picutures that you post are a fabulous touch.

    p.s. the way you spell your dogs name is cute. whoever thought of it is obviously gifted :)

  10. Uncle Geoff! Barb (Mom) has been baking the "Artisan Bin5" all year ('09) was Adam's Christmas present to her and was a huge hit. Well...after my new beau tried the homemade rosemary deliciousness at Thanksgiving in AZ, he bought 'us' (read: me) the HBin5 book and I've just started with the Master Recipe. I learned early that if there are just 2 of us...don't make the whole dough ~ even after 14 days it's too much!

    I'd love your recommendation for loaf pans or a tool to cut and make those lovely crackers...I'm going to take a stab at white whole wheat dough today with fresh rosemary and bake it Sunday afternoon/eve with homemade soup...much love, Em.

  11. everything looks so good! I especially like your pita. I should give that a try with the dough I have left.