ABin5 : A Refresher

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While drafting the previous pizza recipe post, where I used the ‘Artisan Bread in Five Minutes’ (ABin5) way for preparing the pizza dough, I realized that I have been making changes to this method since I adopted it two years ago.  A new edition of the book has also been released, so here’s a refresher post on baking bread this way.

First, the 3 major changes I have adopted:

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/ Earlier, I was weary of adding too much salt into the mixture for fear of, firstly, it will affect the level of rise in the dough (what if I put too much and kill the yeast?), and secondly, it will be more healthy to have lesser salt in the bread.  However, I have noticed that there is a difference in the taste when I added up to a full tablespoon of salt into my dough, depending on what salt is used.

/ I have been using ONLY the weighing method to get the amount of flour right, achieving a consistent level of hydration for the dough for every batch.  I have noticed with my earlier trials that the ABin5 master recipe is really a very forgiving recipe; no matter how wet the dough is, it still rises predictably, and the bread still come out pretty well.  Nowadays, I prefer the dough made with the weighing method, as it is a lot easier to handle, not too runny, allowing me to shape the bread better; most of the dough should go into the bread, not on my hands only to be washed away!

/  I have been using the steam trap method with a simple claypot, instead of the broiler in the oven method.  The authors of the book have also mentioned this method as a more convenient one.  I do not preheat my claypot though, as my claypot manufacturer’s instruction specifically states that the claypot should not be heated without any liquids in it.  So I proofed my bread dough in it (covered with clean, damp tea towel), and bake it in a preheated oven for 30 minutes with lid on, and then another 15-20 minutes without the lid.

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RECIPE FOR ARTISAN BREAD IN 5 MINUTES
/Source

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3 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2lb or 910g of plain flour

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01. Place water, salt and yeast in a plastic container that is big enough for the dough.  This container preferably with lid (if not, cover with cling wrap will do too) will also be the storage container for the dough to be placed in the fridge.  Make sure your fridge has a space for it.  A 6-quart container is recommended in the book.

02. Add in the flour all at once.  Stir with a pair of long chopsticks until the dough comes together, it should be a wet and shapeless one.  If yours can be kneaded into a ball at this stage, you have probably used too much flour.  You can still save the dough by adding water slowly, till you get the dough to its rightful consistency.

03.  Cover the container loosely, saving a gap for the gases to escape as the dough proof.

04. Allow the dough to rise to double its bulk, anything from 2 hours to 4 hours, depending on the room temperature.

05. Once the dough has risen to its max, it will start to settle down, sink a little and form a flat top.  This dough is now ready to be used, or it can be stored in the fridge when you are ready to bake a bread or pizza.  I prefer keeping it in the chiller for a few hours so that the dough is easier to handle.

06. On baking day, take out the dough from the fridge, and dust the surface with some flour, so that it won’t stick to your hands when retrieving the dough.

07. Pull out a piece of dough and cut out about the size of a grapefruit , or weigh 1lb.  Return the rest of the dough into the fridge.

08. Form the dough into a ball, gluten coated.  Sprinkle flour on surface as you go for easier handling, but take care not to incorporate the flour into the dough.  Handle the dough gently at this stage, do not knead, press or squeeze out the air that has expanded inside the dough.

09. Rest the shaped dough by placing it in a claypot (lightly dusted with flour),  from 40 minutes (according to the book’s instructions) or 90 minutes.  I let it stand longer till the dough returns to room temperature.

10.  Preheat the oven to 230C (450F).  When the oven is ready, pour some flour on the bread surface, and slash the loaf with a clean knife or scissors (I have to admit that I find the scissors easier to manage! Just make 3 to 4 decisive fast snips…) so that it does not split at the bottom during baking.

11.  Cover the claypot, and quickly place it into the oven, bake for 30 minutes.

12. After 30 minutes, continue to bake at the same temperature for 15-20 minutes, without the cover.

13. When done, remove the claypot from the oven, and let it cool on a rack.

14. Allow the loaf to cool completely on a rack to room temperature before slicing it.  Otherwise, the bread will end up with a hard crust and a gummy interior.

Easy Handmade Pizza with ABin5 dough

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The hunger pang came after watching a pizza ad, showing a pair of pretty hands kneading the floured pizza dough, sprinkling herbs and toppings, before presenting 5 rectangular pizzas, each with a different flavor.

Not too difficult, if you ask me, once you have this bread dough and this tomato pasta sauce ready.  I had to settle with frozen beef meatballs, canned button mushrooms and cheddar cheese as toppings as I do not have much items in my pantry, being a Friday, aka empty fridge day; I make it a point to clear out my groceries by Fridays, and start afresh on Saturdays.  But you can easily “upgrade” with a simple switch of toppings to fresh ingredients such as mozzarella cheese and basil.

*Hint*  Those delivery menus from pizza shops have lotsa great ideas!

RECIPE FOR PIZZA DOUGH
Source


- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2lb or 910g of plain flour*

/ To Make Dough

01. Place water, salt and yeast in a plastic container that is big enough for the dough.  This container preferably with lid (if not, cover with cling wrap will do too) will also be the storage container for the dough to be placed in the fridge.  Make sure your fridge has a space for it.  A 6-quart container is recommended in the book.

02. Add in the flour all at once.  Stir until the dough comes together, it should be a wet and shapeless one.  If yours can be kneaded into a ball, you have probably used too much flour.  You can still save the dough by adding water slowly, till you get the dough to its rightful consistency.

03.  Cover the container loosely, saving a gap for the gases to escape as the dough proof.

04. Allow the dough to rise to double its bulk, anything from 2 hours to 4 hours, depending on the room temperature.

05. Once the dough has risen to its max, it will start to settle down, sink a little and form a flat top.  This dough is now ready to be used, or it can be stored in the fridge when you are ready to bake a bread or pizza.  I prefer keeping it in the chiller for a few hours so that the dough is easier to handle.

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/ To Bake Pizza (Get your choice of topping ready, I used sliced button mushrooms, sliced ikea beef meatballs, and cheddar cheese)

01. When you are ready to make pizza, take out the dough from the fridge, sprinkle some plain flour on top of the dough and grab a handful of it and cut it out with a pair of scissors.

02. Roughly shape it into a ball with floured hands, and press it down on a baking parchment paper placed on a baking tray.  Stretch out the dough to create a really thin crust (the pizza crust will still rise through the baking process, so I am not worried about the dough being too thin).

03. Spread some garlic butter, or this tomato paste over the dough.

04.  Place sliced button mushrooms and meatballs on top of the butter or tomato sauce.  Drizzle with some olive oil.

05.  In a preheated oven 240C (460F), bake for 8 -10 minutes.  When pizza is cooked, placed sliced cheddar cheese on top, and leave it in the warm oven for another 1 minute to melt the cheese.  If you are using mozzarella cheese, you may add it before baking the pizza.  I ran out of mozzarella and didn’t want my cheddar cheese to brown during baking.

06.  Serve immediately.


++ NOTES TO SELF ++
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* I have since drop the “scoop-and-level method” as I am really terrible at scooping consistently! But if you are, feel free to use 6 1/2 cup of plain flour for this recipe.
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Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day – My First Attempt

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The book, Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day(ABin5), that advocates the making of good quality artisan bread at home quickly and easily has been on the retail shelves for quite some time.  But I have been using another No-Knead Bread Recipe and Video Demonstration from NY Times – without a single success.  I attributed my result of dense loaves with thick -PLUS – hard crust to the fact that I do not own a dutch oven to bake the bread, a necessity tool for the No-Knead recipe.  But I kept on trying, using any oven-safe cookwares available at home that comes with a lid.  What was I thinking?  But I realized that my few failed attempts have actually taught me quite a few things when I tried the Basic Master Recipe in ABin5.

So what did I learn?  First of all, do not fear a wet dough.  By comparison, the ABin5 master recipe was not as wet as the NY Times one.  I even had the ‘courage’ the add another half a cup of water when my dough did not appear as wet as the ones I have seen on the web.

Secondly, patience in bread making.  Having waited up to 18 hours for the dough to be ready in the other recipe, the 5 hours wait for this one seemed manageable.  In fact, I left the chilled dough in the fridge for one more day before I used it to bake my first loaf.   Why?  Because the recipe says that the dough can be kept up to 14 days in the fridge, and the taste of the bread will get better with an aging dough, taking on a similar characteristic of a sourdough.  While my bake with a 2-days-old dough did not taste anything like a sourdough, I could still feel its huge potential in churning out batches after batches of delicious batard, brioche, or even pizza base (that’s covered in their latest recipe book, Artisan Pizza And Flat Bread In 5 Minutes A Day).  In the meantime, I will chuck another bin of newly prepared dough to the back of the fridge for 10 days.  Ready for sourdough?

I have bookmarked the book’s official website in my computer.  The FAQ section offers many useful tips to make sure this wonderful recipe works.  I also noted that the 2 authors respond very promptly to readers who post their bread making questions on the website, and new recipes are often tried out and updated.  How about using a slow cooker to bake your bread?


Recipe for Artisan Bread – adapted from “Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day” recipe book, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)

Yields 4 x 1lb loaf

- 3 cups lukewarm water
 - 1 tablespoon granulated yeast (I used instant)
 - 1 tablespoon salt
 - 6 1/2 cups (2 lbs) all purpose flour

Preparing The Master Dough:

Put water, yeast and salt, in a plastic container.

Dump all flour at once and stir till the ingredients are just mixed, do not knead. (*1)

Cover lid, but do not snap shut, so that gas can escape from the container. (*2)

Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours in room temperature.  By now, the dough could rise up twice its original volume,  Bubbles will appear popping on the surface. (*3)  Do not punch down the dough.

The dough can now be used for baking.  Or it can be stored in the fridge with its cover (again, not tightly shut to allow gas to escape) for up to 14 days.  Chilling the dough will make it easier to manage.

Baking:

Preheat oven to 450F/230C, with a baking tray on the middle rack, and a broiler below.

Take out the dough from the fridge, and dust the surface with some flour, so that it won’t stick to your hands when retrieving the dough.

Pull out a piece of dough and cut out about the size of a grapefruit , or weigh 1lb.  Return the rest of the dough into the fridge.

Form the dough into a ball, gluten coated.  Sprinkle flour on surface as you go for easier handling, but take care not to incorporate the flour into the dough.  Handle the dough gently at this stage, do not knead, press or squeeze out the air that has expanded inside the dough.

Rest the shaped dough on a piece of parchment paper for 40minutes (*4)

Slash the loaf so that it does not split at the bottom during baking.

Place the dough with the parchment paper on the heated baking tray in the oven.  Throw some ice cubes on the broiler to produce steam.

Bake for 30-35minutes.

Remove the parchment paper after 20minutes of baking, and continue to bake the bread on the tray to create a crispy bottom crust.

Allow the loaf to cool completely on a rack to room temperature before slicing it.  Otherwise, the bread will end up with a hard crust and a gummy interior.


My Notes:-

(*1) The end result should not be in the consistency of a ball dough, if it does, add some water.  I added 1/2 cup more for this first attempt.

(*2) My container did not have a lid, so I used a cling wrap to cover the container.

(*3) For some reason, mine took 5 or 6 hours to reach this stage, which is fine, as some readers have indicated on the website.  Something to do with the amount or types of yeast, I guess.

(*4) The longer it rest, (e.g. 60 to 90 minutes), the more open whole structure it creates.  Take your preference.  And delay the time needed to start preheating your oven.

This video is useful to show how to prepare the dough (3:00) and shape a basic loaf (4:20).