Healthy bread in five minutes

Whole Grain Artisan Free-Form Loaf

Prep time: 15 minutes to prepare enough dough for 4 loaves, to be baked on 4 different days. Loaves average 5 minutes of active preparation time (can double or halve recipe).


  • 5½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt (like Morton's)
  • ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
  • 4 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F)
  • Cornmeal or parchment paper for the pizza peel
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of whole seed mixture for sprinkling: sesame, flaxseed, caraway, raw sunflower, poppy, and anise
  1. Measure in dry ingredients: In a 5-quart bowl or lidded plastic food-grade bucket, whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten.

  2. Add the water all at once and mix without kneading using a wooden spoon, until all ingredients are uniformly moist, producing a loose and very wet dough.

  3. Rising: Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours. DO NOT PUNCH DOWN! After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (not completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.

  4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven.

  5. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives or kitchen shears are best).

  6. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the a quarter-turn as you go to form a ball. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it's not intended to be incorporated into the dough.

  7. The bottom of the ball may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive.

  8. The entire process should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds. If you work the dough longer than this it may make your loaf dense.

  9. Elongate the ball, stretch gently, and taper the ends by rolling between your palms.

  10. Allow to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, on the prepared pizza peel for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you're using fresh, un-refrigerated dough).

  11. 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450°F, with baking stone on middle rack. Place empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf.

  12. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with water. Sprinkle with seed mixture and slash with ¼-inch deep parallel cuts across the loaf, using a serrated bread knife.

  13. Bake it: Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone (if you used parchment, it slides right along with the loaf into the oven). Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is richly browned and firm to the touch.

Whole Wheat Christmas Stollen

Our first book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day came out in November, just in time for holiday baking. Within days we were inundated with requests for stollen, a German Christmas specialty rich with butter and eggs, spiced with cardamom, studded with dried and candied fruit and spiked with just a touch of brandy. Here in Minnesota there is a large German-American population and this festive bread is part of that tradition.

Here is a gorgeous version made with whole grains and marzipan running through the middle. If you find the brandy a bit too festive, then you can replace it with either orange juice or even black tea.

Makes enough dough for at least three 1½-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.


  • 6 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (increase or decrease to taste, page 17)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • ¼ cup vital gluten
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • ¼ cup neutral-flavored oil, unsalted butter, melted, or zero tans fat, zero hydrogenated oil margarine, melted
  • ½ cups honey
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup brandy (orange juice or lukewarm black tea can be substituted)
  • 1½ cups finely chopped dried or candied fruit (raisins, currants, dried pineapple, dried apricots, dried cherries, candied citrus)
  • ½ cup almond paste, or marzipan, or 1 cup slivered almonds for the center of the loaf
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water) for brushing on the top crust
  • Confectioners' sugar for the top of loaf
  1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, cardamom, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

  2. Combine the liquid ingredients and dried and or candied fruit and with dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You may need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine.

  3. The dough will be loose, but it will firm up when chilled. Don't try to use it without chilling for at least 2 hours.

  4. Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

  5. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond that, the dough stores well in the freezer for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. Freeze in 1½-pound portions. When using frozen dough, thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours before use, then allow usual rest/rise time.

  6. On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1½-pound (small cantaloupe-size) piece of dough. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball.

  7. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a ¼ -inch-thick oval. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface, but not so much as to make the it dry.

  8. Place the marzipan or slivered almonds across the short end of the dough about a one-third of the way from the end. Lift and fold the remaining two-thirds of dough to form an S-shape over the almond filling. The end of the dough will lay near the middle of the top of the loaf. Allow to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, on a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper or a silicone mat, for 90 minutes.

  9. Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350°F, with rack placed in the center of the oven. If you're not using a stone in the oven, a 5-minute preheat is adequate.

  10. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crust with egg wash.

  11. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, until medium brown and firm.

  12. Allow the stolen to cool, then sprinkle it generously with confectioners' sugar.
About the authors:

Dr. Jeff Hertzberg is a physician with 20 years of experience in health care as a practitioner, consultant, and faculty member at the University of Minnesota Medical School. His interests in baking and preventive health sparked a quest to adapt the techniques of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for healthier ingredients. Jeff lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two daughters.

Zoe Francois is a pastry chef and baker trained at the Culinary Institute of America. In addition to teaching baking and pastry courses nationally, she consults in the food industry. Zoe shares her pastry and dessert expertise at She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two sons.

Please join Jeff & Zoe for a book signing tonight at 6 p.m at Book Passage in the S.F. Ferry Building:
1 Ferry Building, #42
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 835-1020

Friday November 6th at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble at the Shops at Tanforan in San Bruno:
1150 El Camino Real Space 277
San Bruno, CA 94066
(650) 871-2530

Saturday November 7th from 3-4PM at Omnivore Books in San Francisco. 3885a Cesar Chavez Street San Francisco, CA 94131 (415) 282.4712

>> Buy this book on Amazon: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients (Hardcover)

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