Falling in Love with Bread Again


Post by community member:

When I was a kid, my aunt bought me Betty Crocker’s Breads—a tiny 76-page cookbook filled with all sorts of beautiful looking bread recipes. I spent hours looking at the color photos, reading the recipes and planning when and what I’d make from the book.

That one little book literally opened my world to the realm of bread making. I made traditional loaves and pocket bread, bagels and cinnamon rolls. I was hooked on the magic of yeast and the smell of fresh bread in the oven.

As I got older, however, my bread making slowed. Life was busy and good bread became more accessible when I moved from a small town in Montana to Portland, Oregon. A fresh loaf of bread, once a regular staple, became something I baked occasionally, and then finally, rarely. I mourned the loss of fresh homemade bread, but I brushed it off as impractical.

But all that’s changed recently. And it started with another bread cookbook. This time, it was Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë FranÇois. Honestly, if I had discovered that book on my own, I would have rolled my eyes. Great bread in five minutes a day? Yea, right. Fortunately for me, a friend found it and sent me a picture of her first loaf that she said tasted as beautiful as it looked. I went to the library the very next day and found a copy of the book.

Once again, homemade bread has become a regular staple in my life. Only this time, it’s EASY! No kneading, no rising and punching down. Nothing that makes making bread hard. As a matter of fact, the ‘master’ recipe only has 4 ingredients and takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.

The recipe I made this week, however, is one of my favorites from their book. It’s called Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread. Although containing a few more than 4 ingredients, it’s still easy to make and most delicious. It’s moist with pumpkin, hearty with whole grains and has just a touch sweet from the honey.

How to make Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread:

1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rye flour
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

This recipe makes 3 loaves of bread, but I doubled it, as it stays fresh in the fridge for up to 9 days. I realized I was short about 1/2 cup of pumpkin by doubling it, so I used a leftover baked yam that I skinned and mashed before adding it to the mix.

What I love about this whole concept of bread making is that all the labor and guesswork is taken out of it. Simply stir the above ingredients together and let ‘rest’ on the counter for 2 hours. I use a lidded bread dough container for my dough, but I keep the lid ajar.

After 2 hours, it’s either ready to form into a loaf (this recipe makes 3 loaves, but they don’t have to be baked at the same time) or stick in the refrigerator. With this recipe, I usually refrigerate it, as the dough is very sticky and hard to work with if you don’t. However, if you choose to bake now, grab a ‘cantaloupe-sized’ piece of the dough, dust it with flour, shape it into a ball as you stretch the dough down around to the bottom on all sides. Place this ball in a lightly greased nonstick loaf pan. Let it ‘rest’ again. If you’re using un-refrigerated dough, rest time is only 40 minutes. If it’s refrigerated, let it rest for 2 hours.

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. (They do include directions for making it ‘artisan’ by using steam in the oven. I use this method on the regular ‘master recipe’ from the book, but not the pumpkin loaf. I like this one to be soft inside and out.)

The nice thing about this way of making bread is that I can make a loaf or two of bread just for everyone to eat fresh and hot out of the oven. Then the next day, while I’m making homemade soup, I can use the dough to make dinner rolls. I can also throw some more dough into a loaf pan to make some bread for the neighbors and make an extra loaf to use as sandwich bread for some turkey sandwiches all at the same time, with little effort. The dough is versatile, easy, super tasty, and really does only take about 5 minutes of active effort per day.

I used to spend hours dreaming and scheming my bread baking as a kid, and now I’m doing the same thing once again. Only this time, it fits into my busy lifestyle without compromising the fresh homemade taste (and smells) of bread baking in the kitchen!

Get the handy print page and save this to your recipe box here:
Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread.

You can also find Kerrie at City Girl Farming.

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  1. Casid says:

    I too have read that bread cookbook! I am hooked on the no-knead bread method. It finally helped me make a great loaf of homemade bread.

  2. Jane says:

    I am glad you posted this as I have a question that maybe you can answer. I used this book (yeah for the public library!) and while my breads looked great and the crust crackled nicely etc., the bread was a tad bit gummy. I couldn’t get the dry soft crumb using the recipe so went back to regular. Do you find this an issue at all, or did I just not perfect this recipe? Thanks for any feedback.

  3. lisabetholson says:

    Thanks for the recipe and book alert, I will have to get that one as we, like everyone else likes fresh.

  4. Pete says:

    Looks YUMMY! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. Pete says:

    If anyone is looking for this cookbook, it is here, but most likely also available at your usual sources for books: http://www.edwardrhamilton.com/titles/6/3/3/6335098.html

    They have a “Healthy” version of their book here as well: http://www.edwardrhamilton.com/titles/1/6/5/1653563.html

  6. Pam G. says:

    The authors of this book also have a page on Facebook where they often share recipes at:

    They recently posted a Valentine’s Day Bread recipe.

  7. Kerrie says:

    Jane, I haven’t had that problem, but I do know the authors have a website that has a bunch of problem solving questions/answers…maybe you could find an answer there?
    And Pete mentioned the Healthy cookbook–it’s wonderful also–filled with lots of whole grain recipes. I’ve borrowed it from a friend and loved it. It’s on my list of books to get next.
    And Pam, thanks for the FB tip. I didn’t even think to look them up here…why? I don’t know. But I just friended them. 🙂

  8. prvrbs31gal says:

    I have tried several recipes from both of the 5-minute a Day books. I had much better luck when I made free-form mounds rather than baking them in loaf pans. Each time I did that, I ended up with a huge hole in the middle of the loaves.

  9. Rosemeri says:

    I have been using this book and their newer book on healthy breads for some time now and I will never go back to any other method. It’s wonderful and so easy. My family loves it. Check their website for videos, tips, and ideas. Thanks for posting.

  10. KimM says:

    I love this book, I just started using it after having it for a couple of years. I still haven’t branched out from the basic recipe though.

  11. kaiyazmom says:

    I have and LOVE both of those books. I will say, however, that it wasn’t until I made Suzanne’s Grandmother Bread that I sighed and thought, “Finally! A bread recipe I can use for sandwich bread!” The others from Artisan in 5 were too sweet for me to like as an every day sandwich bread!

  12. Ross says:

    I bought a new first edition Betty Crocker Bread book in ’74. I am going to look for “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” I have time to spend as much or as little time as required for making bread but I am always interested in new recipes.
    Your loaves look very fine and well made.

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