Wednesday 25 May 2011

Book review : Five Minute Bread - Jeff Hetzberg & Zoe François

Here at The Madhouse, we have a bread machine and it's constantly on the go. There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking in your kitchen and eating that first slice slathered in butter when it's still hot is a real moment of pleasure, even though I've been baking bread for years now. However, a few months back, I had a go at baking my bread all by myself, without the bread machine, and it just seemed so much more satisfying. Not to mention the bread (which you can see here) which looked so much more rustic and authentic than anything the bread machine can produce.

I therefore loved the idea behind the title, Five Minute Bread, and was keen to see how it would all work when I was offered the book to review. Making bread in just five minutes seems unbelievably quick and simple. Well, just like Jamie Oliver and his Thirty Minute Meals, I do feel that five minutes is a slight exaggeration but the system does work really well.

You need to spend half an hour reading the introduction to the book to understand the concept and the master recipe. You will basically produce a simple dough that you can keep in the fridge for a fortnight, hacking off and cooking a lump every day to make your daily bread.

This basic dough recipe can be modified in innumerable ways, to create a vast number of different and delicious sounding breads, ranging from chocolate bread and cinnamon rolls to bagels, pretzels and Italian-inspired tomato and parmesan bread. Just flicking through, I have seen so many recipes, both sweet and savoury, that I can't wait to try.

The "five minute bread dough" took me about 15 minutes to prepare, but I'm sure I'll get quicker the more I do it. I had a bit of an issue with it sticking to my knife when cutting and slashing but it really does produce lovely bread with no kneading which impressed me. The longer it stays in the fridge, the more it takes on a "sourdough" flavour and, although I wasn't sure I'd like this when I read about it in the book, it actually tastes nicer the longer you leave it. I love the fact that no two loaves, even from the same batch of dough, will look or taste identical because even the dough is constantly changing.

The recipes call for unbleached flour, which I initially had trouble finding, then realised pretty much all flour in the UK is unbleached anyway. My one piece of advice is don't overthink it and try to make it more complicated than it is - it is as unbelievably simple as it sounds, even if five minutes is pushing it, especially as you then have to add on cooking time.

Even if you've never made bread before, the concept is so simple that you'll be making delicious homemade breads with very little work and very little room for error. Reading the book in detail shows you how much effort the authors - one a scientist with a love of bread, one a trained pastry chef and baker - have put into perfecting their technique and recipes. They've taken all the guesswork and effort out so that you can just sit back and reap the rewards. I bet you'll never buy bread from a shop again !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £14.99

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Ebury Press (6 Jan 2011)
ISBN-10: 0091938945
ISBN-13: 978-0091938949

Other reviews you may be interested in :


  1. As just got a breadmaker and yes ours in on the go almost daily, really getting into this make your own bakery products. So thanks for the review, will find and buy this book

  2. wow - you have sold me. I have been wanting to make bread for around five years...the closest I've come is pizza dough, which is still a bread, but not the full way. I had no idea you could just keep dough in the fridge and take bits off daily? That sounds like it would save so much time. I really want to try this! Sourdough is also my favourite type of bread, so if it takes on more of that quality, it would be fine with me. Thank you for reviewing!! :) can't seem to add my details to my posts here, the google part won't work :( well it's / @mummabluberry

  3. I have the 5 Minute Bread Book, but there are some drawbacks. I use the book while I was in Italy and most of the flour there is bleached. It really is not a good method to use with bleached flour as it does not work so well with the hydration method that this recipe uses. I'm back in the UK now and as soon as I can I am going to give it a real go.

    1. Very true. I have the problem for general baking in France because there's no self-raising flour so you have to remember to add raising agent, otherwise all your cakes come out like bricks !


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