If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Google Plus, you’ll know that a couple of weeks ago, I was very thrilled to receive the new cookbook Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day to review.
(A little disclaimer here, I received the book for free, but no other compensation. My views are my own. I don’t guarantee a review for products received and only post reviews on things that I’m very happy about and feel would be of use to you, my readers. Because I only review things I love, my reviews slightly resemble a Shamwow commercial. I apologize. You can get your own copy from Amazon here: Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
The book is the latest in the Bread in Five Minutes series by Jeff Hertzberg, MD and pastry chef Zoe Francois. If you’re not familiar, it’s a method of mixing a large quantity of dough and keeping it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake a loaf (the dough can be kept 5-10 days).
What did I think of the book?
This is a book for readers. You actually need to take a few minutes and read chapter 5, which tells you how to make the flour mixture, and the first few pages of chapter 6, which tells you the basics of mixing, storing and baking the dough (the recipes start in chapter 6). If you’re a reader, or you’re new to gluten free living or baking, I’d suggest reading from the introduction through chapter 4 as well. There’s tons of great info about celiac disease, ingredients used in gluten free baking, equipment you can use, and an FAQ about baking gluten free bread.
This isn’t “oh my goodness, let this textbook be over” type reading. This is “curl up on the couch with a fire in the fireplace and a cup of tea and a good book” type reading. You’ll thoroughly enjoy the light conversational style and you’re going to love the 200 or so pages of recipes.
The book is illustrated by photographer Stephen Scott Gross. While there aren’t color pictures throughout, the black and white pictures, especially those in chapter 6 showing the consistency of the dough and the steps for forming a loaf, are very helpful. There are two large sections of colored photos that make this cookbook worthy of any coffee table. The best part is flipping through and realizing that *you could actually make that.*
What did I think of the method?
The dough literally took me 5 minutes to make. Even the enriched dough with eggs and melted butter only took seconds more. Having a stand mixer definitely made the process smoother (the authors share tips on making the dough HERE in this helpful video.) Once the dough had risen for 2 hours, it was ready to use. I kept the remainder in the fridge and any time I wanted to make bread, I just pulled off a chunk of dough, gently formed it and let it rest until it was ready to bake. I was very impressed. I could quickly whip up a batch of dough before anyone could come into the kitchen to “help”. Then when I wanted to make bread, I could just as quickly put a loaf together. Bread is now the easiest thing I make. Ha!
What did I think of the bread?
Because I’m gluten free, and my husband is rice free, I took some liberty with the recipe printed in the book. (You can find the recipe for the gluten free flour used in the book HERE) Honestly, I was so encouraged by the “hey, totally, you got this” tone of chapter 5, and the fact that the authors had a great list of ingredient substitutions because they recognize the individual needs of gluten free diners, that I was confident I could make it work. And I did! The first batch of dough was good. The second was very good. The third was amazing. (Ha, that sortof sounds like I spent all week eating bread. And that’s because I did.) I think even if you don’t alter the recipe at all, you’ll find that each batch gets just a little better as you figure out what you’re doing, and decide which of the variations work best for you. (I wouldn’t recommend that you change up the recipes in the book unless you really are comfortable with gluten free baking and have a handle on how different flours and starches react in a recipe, sometimes things are more important to a recipe than they seem.)
Who is this book for?
The absolute beginner: If you’ve ever made a cake mix out of a box, you can make gluten free artisan bread. No joke. The only challenge I think you might have is finding a place in your fridge to keep the container of dough (we used a large salad bowl with a plastic lid). This book is definitely for the beginner. You keep a batch of this flour mix in the cupboard. Follow the steps, use the ingredients they suggest, and you’re sure to have success.
The expert: You know who you are. You’ve been gluten free for years, you’ve learned all the tricks, you may even make your own baked goods or flour mix to sell. You’ll like this book for a couple of reasons. The measurements are in weight as well as volume, this is very important to many gluten free bakers, especially old hats who have used a variety of flours/brands. The ratios in the recipes make total sense, and you’ll be able to easily see how to adjust ingredients to best work with your dietary needs and pantry availability. The method is easy. Seriously. You will buy this book and eat bread every day. Because it takes literally five minutes.
Everyone else in between: This is actually a really easy and fun baking project. You’ll definitely impress even the gluten eaters at your place and you’ll finally feel like you’re not missing out. This will become the thing you’re famous for at dinner parties.
Honestly, I’ve been baking gluten free for over a decade and thought I had it all figured out.
I KNEW gluten free bread was hard to make, almost impossible with my current time constraints. This book was like someone showing up at Einstein’s house and saying “pft, physics?” and solving the Unified Field Theory with crayons on a post-it note. I can now eat bread every day. Great bread, fresh baked bread. For about a quarter of the price of the frozen loaves of meh. I love that the dough is ready to go in the fridge, so it’s not a huge hassle every time I want to make bread, I just take out what I need, let it sit on the counter under a bowl and then bake. Five minutes of my time.
Want More Info?
You can find tips and videos over at GF Bread in 5. (Please be aware that this link takes you to the main Artisan Bread in 5 site and some of the recipes are not gluten free and some of tips don’t work with the gluten free dough.) I suggest starting with this post, Tips on Great Results with Gluten Free Dough, and this one: Gluten Free Flour Mix #1 which gives you the basic gluten free flour recipe. Look in the comments of the flour post for substitution suggestions.
Want a sneak preview recipe?
Ah, thought you’d never ask. Try this amazing Baguette.
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Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes Baguette Recipe
- 6½ cups of gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated yeast
- 1-1½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- 3¾ cups lukewarm water 100°F or below
- Cornmeal or parchment paper for the pizza peel
- Egg white wash 1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon water, for top of loaf
Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and sweetener in a 5- to 6 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
Add the water and mix with a spoon or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle.
Cover (not airtight), and rest at room temperature until the dough rises, about 2 hours.
The dough can be used immediately after rising, though it’s easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 10 days. Or freeze for up to 4 weeks in 1-pound portions and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before use.
On baking day: Dust the surface of the dough with rice flour, pull off a ½ -pound (orange-size)
piece, and place it on a pizza peel prepared with cornmeal (use plenty) or parchment paper.
Gently press and pat it into a log-shape with tapered ends, using wet fingers to smooth the surface. Allow to rest for about 40 minutes, loosely covered with plastic wrap or a roomy overturned bowl. During this time, the dough may not seem to rise much, which is normal.
Preheat a baking stone near the middle of the oven to 450°F (20 to 30 minutes), with an empty metal broiler tray on any shelf that won’t interfere with rising bread.
Brush the top with egg white wash, and then slash, about ½-inch deep, with a wet serrated bread knife.
Slide the loaf onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until richly browned and firm.
Allow to cool completely on a rack before eating.