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Healthy-Bread-in-Five-Minutes-a-Day-coverReviewed by Jen Kulman

When Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day was published two years ago, it was an immediate success. The book’s promise was that you could make one big batch of dough, store it in the fridge and use it all week long. You reap the rewards of fresh, homemade bread every night of the week without kneading, proofing the yeast or lengthy rise times. Since then, the authors have really listened to their readers/bakers and tweaked their original idea to bring us… Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day! This book continues with the concept of easy baking, but concentrates on using whole grain flours, high fiber, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to bake breads that are better for your body.

Here’s the basic premise: Mix flour, water, yeast, salt, gluten and water. Do not knead. Allow your mixture to rise for two hours at room temperature and then toss it into the fridge. You now have your starter dough for the next two weeks. Each night, you will tear off a chunk of the dough, gently shape it into a loaf and let it rise for 90 minutes. Bake and enjoy. Repeat for every day you would like to partake of freshly baked bread. Since the bulk of your work is done the first night with the mixing of the large batch of dough, your hands-on time on the following nights will only be a few minutes.

Do not fret if you are not a skilled bread baker, and don’t stop reading! If you have been contemplating baking bread, this is the ideal book to propel you into the kitchen. These recipes are easy to follow and each step is neatly explained. If you do happen to hit a snag, refer to the chapter titled “Tips and Techniques” which answers frequently asked questions and addresses minor problems. Once you master the basic recipe and variations, you can move onto the rest of the recipes with confidence. These are slightly more exotic, calling for ingredients such as rye, pumpernickel and spelt flour, flaxseed, quinoa and lentils. You might not be enticed by every recipe (um, no for me on Potato and Pea-Stuffed Flatbread) but I love the variety!

The authors are very careful to give thorough explanations on why you should consider adding each ingredient to your diet. For example, if you aren’t a fish eater, how can you ingest more omega-3 fatty acids? Flaxseed is a concentrated source and Rosemary Flaxseed Baguette sounds much more appetizing to me than a slab of salmon. I am always looking for ways to improve my family’s nutritional intake, and trying these recipes is a painless way to get whole grains, fruits and vegetables into our diet. I make up the dough on Sunday and we can have fresh bread on weeknights with very little fuss. On my list to try: Turkish Pear Coffee Bread, Bradley Benn’s Beer Bread, Milk and Honey Raisin Bread …. truly the list goes on and on.

Visit Artisan Bread in Five for unique recipes that are not in the book, like Panettone and Pizza on a Stick.

Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and five year old son. She writes reviews of children’s book on her blog, FIRR-Kids. She enjoys trying new recipes and using her baking as an excuse to add more cookbooks to her collection.