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.

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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

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Epilogue (43 of 42)

As all of you know by now, from all the press coverage, I baked my way through the whole Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book.  Every assignment.  And then some. 
In addition to the adoration of my fan I also got a more tangible reward from my niece Cathy:

  A Trophy!
To go with my Trophy Wife!
And Cathy gave me a congratulatory card, too!

Cathy has definitely raised the bar for her niblings.  (Niblings is a collective, gender-neutral term for nieces and nephews, based on siblings.  There is a movement afoot by a group of school children in England to have it included in the Oxford English Dictionary.  See Kids want 'nibling' in dictionary.  By using it here, I am doing my part.)   

Having baked the book, I thought I would share a Baker's Dozen of our favorites.  This is a purely personal list and is colored by our likes and dislikes.   Thus, although I baked all the gluten-free assignments, and we enjoyed several of the results, none of those are included here.  The gluten-free recipes are great if you need them, but we do not, and I just do not enjoy working with the gluten-free dough.  The tactile aspect of working with the dough is part of baking too, even when using the no-knead method.

Also, I am focusing here on doughs more than products.  Thus, I am not including pizzas and flatbreads and rolls and such, which are ways of forming or embellishing one or more of the doughs. 

With regard to the AB and HB in 5 method, I have a confession to make.  They say that the first step in recovery is to admit you have a problem.  I admit I am addicted to this method.  Many of my baking cohorts easily switch between AB/HB breads and a variety of more traditional loaves.  I have a hard time doing that.  It feels like I am cheating on Jeff and Zoë.  Before discovering AB in 5 I was trying to bake a lot of our bread, and was unhappy with the results.  The AB in 5 method was such a revelation, particularly if you  are trying to bake most of the bread you eat, that I feel I owe them.  I feel kind of disloyal baking anyone else's bread.   I am trying, however.  I am hunting wild yeast with Renée over at Flamingo Musings.  I have tried sourdough in AB/HB loaves, and although the bread turned out fine, I did not get a very sour flavor.  Now that I am not baking the book, I have been planning to work on my sourdough.   And using wild yeast seems like an interesting experiment.  I will keep you posted.

As a starting point for our favorites, I have a "Cheat Sheet" posted on the refrigerator.  It is just a list of AB and HB in 5 bread recipes I bake frequently, in summary form--ingredients, cook time, and storage time.  Since that is my go-to list it seems a pretty good place to start.  You can click on the links for each entry to see my original posts for these.

First on the Cheat Sheet is:

1.  The Master Recipe.  The name pretty much says it all.  It is versatile.  It can be used not only for boules but for baguettes, batards, pitas, naan, pizza, rolls, sweet rolls, you name it. And it is easy to make--flour, water salt, yeast and vital gluten.
The Cheat Sheet also includes:

2.  100% Whole Wheat.   The title of this recipe is really 100% Whole Wheat, Plain and Simple.  And that is what it is.  If you want to go all the way (Whole Wheat wise), this is it.

3.  Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.   This is an enriched bread, with honey, oil and eggs, and it makes a nice, softer loaf. 

4Whole Grain Rye.  Just a nice hearty rye.  I use ground caraway seed in the dough for a more uniform flavor, and top it with whole seeds.  To coat the loaves I sprinkle seeds on the counter and roll the loaves in them.  For me this works better than egg or water wash, especially since the dough is more hydrated.   

5.  Quinoa BreadI really like to make this bread using red quinoa from Trader Joe's.  The red grains really show up nicely in the slices, and quinoa is really good for you.

The Cheat Sheet breads are not only those that I bake a lot, they also tend to be those that are easy to make and that do not require extra ingredients.  Going beyond the Cheat Sheet with some fairly simple loaves there is:

6.   Whole Wheat Brioche.  A really good enriched whole wheat. bread. 

7.  Buckwheat Bread.  I do not know why, exactly, but I am partial to buckwheat.  I love sourdough buckwheat waffles.  And this bread has buckwheat groats to boot!

And for breads with more "stuff" in them:

8.  Tabbouleh Bread.  The full name for this one is Tabbouleh Bread with Parsley, Garlic and Bulgar, which is what is in tabbouleh.  It also has lemon, which really gives it that something extra. 

9.  Pumpkin Pie Brioche.  This was a good and fun bread, great for fall.  It was especially good for Honey Caramel Sticky Nut Buns and Indian Spiced Doughnuts.  I have already gotten requests, OK, request, for this one.

10.  Betsy's Seeded Oat Bread.  If you like lots of seeds and nuts in your bread, this one is for you.

11.   Oatmeal Date BreadDates and steel cut oats.  And nuts.  It just doesn't get any better than that.

12.  Il Bollo.  Michelle saved one of the best for the very last assignment on our schedule.  A challah with anise, honey and vanilla.  

13.  Apple Strudel Bread.  This is the exception that proves the rule (about focusing on dough rather than on breads), since it is really the Soft Whole Wheat fancied up.  But Katie loves it, so here it is. 

Those are our favorites, but we like several of the others too.   Post some of your faves in the comment section. 

On a baking note, since I have finished the HB in 5 assignments, I decided to bake something from the first book, the English Granary Bread from AB in 5.  I used Maltex cereal as a substitute for the malted wheat flakes.  When I first baked this bread the malted wheat flakes were unavailable, but King Arthur now carries them again. 
The cereal makes for kind of a moister loaf, but we like this hearty bread. 

So that is it for the HB in 5 Challenge.  I am finished.  Really.  For sure. 

But I may keep posting about baking and such, especially about my clay oven, which is not drying in all the rain, or my wild (and sustainably) caught sourdough, which is bubbling along nicely, thank you very much.  Or maybe about other stuff.  You  will just have to wait and see.


  1. Il Bollo was one of my favorites also, along with the master recipe.

  2. I loved the pumpkin brioche. So glad it's that time of the year to make it again!