‘Tis the season for Panettone

raisins, dried apricots, dried cherries, candies ginger and prunes

Panettone is the classic Christmas bread that is made fresh in bakeries all over Italy. You can also find it boxed up and looking quite beautiful in most American shops this time of year. The problem is that when you open the gorgeous foil wrapping you are presented with a stale, dried out version of this wonderful tradition. The solution is to make your own from ABin5 (p.201). It is as easy as all the other recipes in the book and your house will smell of sweet honey and lemon zest. I like to load my Panettone up with several different dried fruits to give it wonderful flavor and that bejeweled look. I also sprinkle it with sugar right before I put it in the oven to make a sweet crust on the outside of the moist cake like bread.

Freezing Bread Dough

People have asked if the dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (AB in 5) can be frozen. YES!!! In fact we highly recommend freezing bread dough, especially any of the enriched doughs (those containing eggs, butter or milk) after about 5 days in the refrigerator. You can store them in the freezer for about 6 weeks. Dough wants to absorb the odors and aromas around them so wrap them really well and they won’t take on the personality of the fish sticks sitting next to them. Read More

Making Brioche for the Inn

“I read the NYT article, made my first batch, and immediately got the book. What a really great concept – that works so very well. I am the breakfast chef at an inn in Vermont and the brioche dough is really simple, versatile and delicious (to say nothing of being a time saver).

I have a lot (too many) bread books, have been a recipe tester for a food writer and can honestly say that with all the experience I have, yours is going to be my go to book.

Thank you both for writing it.” Gale

Gale, this note is like music to my ears. I hear what you are saying and wish I had this recipe when I was working in restaurants and making brioche. Read More

Dark vs Light Sticky Buns

Last night Jeff and I taught a class based on Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day at Cooks of Crocus Hill. It was a tremendously fun evening, made all the more so by the curiosity of the people who came out to watch us bake a frenzy of breads. There were a number of great questions and one in particular that stumped me. I was baking the sticky pecan caramel rolls from the book. Because there were so many people in the class I had to bake them in two batches. One in a light cake pan, the other in a dark one. Other than the color of the pans the process and baking times were identical, in fact they sat side by side in the oven. When the time came to invert the sticky buns onto the serving platter we were shocked to see that they were entirely different colors. One was a very pale (I’d say insipid) caramel and the other was rich and deeply colored. I knew that it was because of the color of the pans, but when pressed by this curious crowd as to exactly WHY this happens I couldn’t answer. So I did a little investigating and this is what I found out… Read More

Artisan Bread Taste Without the Work!

A frequently asked question is…”How do I get that sour characteristic of artisan bread without having to use a starter, which is way too high maintenance?”

The answer is easy with our bread method, just wait. I mean mix up your dough, let it rise, use some if you need to immediately and then let the rest of the batch sit in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Don’t feed it, just wait. After the 2nd day you will notice that the flavor is more complex and is starting to take on the characteristics in artisan bread that you crave: sourdough flavor, larger air holes, nice “custard” crumb and crisp tin crust. As it ages it improves, like all of us! The way I maintain that flavor in the next batch is to leave a piece from an “old” dough in the bucket and just dump the ingredients for a fresh batch right on top. Read More