Can it really be true? Homemade baguettes, ciabatta, flatbread, and naan (among many others) in just five minutes? Is it even possible to make anything like that in five minutes? Yes and no. The title is just a teensy bit misleading. There's some work to be done to get to the point where it takes five minutes, not to mention resting periods for the dough (usually about 20-40 minutes), and then the baking time. BUT, once the dough is made, the hands-on time it takes to prep the bread for baking really takes about five minutes for every batch of bread you make. Confused? Let me explain...
One other necessity: a container big enough to not only hold all the dough but to also give it room to rise. When I bought my cookbook off Amazon (I love Amazon - lets me feed my book-buying addiction much more frugally), I bought one of the containers featured since I didn't have anything that would work. The containers I got are six-quart containers and worked perfectly - I wouldn't use anything smaller than that.
The great thing about the method for breadmaking in this book is that it requires absolutely no kneading. You simply mix the ingredients in the same container you'll store the dough in. This step takes hardly any time at all. Just 3 cups of warm water, 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast, 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt, and 6 1/2 cups of flour. The dough is really wet and you couldn't knead it if you tried without making a crazy, sticky mess.
For this recipe, I shaped the dough into a ball by stretching the surface around to the bottom around all sides. This only took a minute to do. Nothing fancy. Then you just let it rest on a dusted pizza peel (mine came with my baking stone - see my pizza post from a few months ago to learn more about this awesome kitchen tool) for a certain amount of time. For this recipe, I let it rest on a cornmeal-dusted peel for 40 minutes and then scored the top with a knife before I put it in the oven.
To get the crisp crust and soft inside typical of artisan bread, you have to bake with steam. You slide the dough off the peel onto the baking stone in the preheated oven (450 degrees for this recipe). In a pan on a rack below, you pour a cup of hot water and quickly close the oven. Then I baked this bread for about 30 minutes, or until, as the book says, you can hear the bread "sing" when it is exposed to the cooler air. The picture above is the first loaf I ever made from the book - it worked out, no problem. And it was soooo good. You can store the rest of the dough in the fridge for two weeks.
This is just a quick overview of the process - you really should check out the book. It's awesome - now if we want bread to go with dinner, I just grab a chunk of the dough, shape it, let it rest for a little while, and then pop it into the oven. Like the title of the book says, it's really only five minutes hands-on time when you want it. The ingredients are simple and inexpensive. The process couldn't be any easier. This book truly is, as the cover says, "the discovery that revolutionizes home baking."