A Tale of Two Bread Books

My recent success making bread has fueled my obsession with creating crusty, artisan bread at home.  It’s become something of a “gateway” bread – you know…the bread that opens the door to experimentation with other breads.

I tried a couple of different recipes that I found online and they all turned out pretty well.  (How Kelly got her groove back.) The thing they have in common is that they all employ this somewhat revolutionary, no-knead method of making bread.  I’m full on addicted now.  So I went to my “dealer” (aka Amazon) to see what kinds of books I could find utilizing this new way doing things and found a couple that looked intriguing.

Bread Book #1 – Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (Hertzberg and Francois)

I actually read about this book in one of the recipes I found online.016

Bread Book #2 – Artisan Breads Every Day (Reinhart)

Yes, I realize this is the same author as the other bread book that had ruined my bread mojo, but apparently other shoppers who purchased the previous book also bought this book.  That was enough for me for give ole Peter Reinhart another chance.015

I couldn’t decided which recipe to try first.  In my mind, AB5MD is kinda like the Rachel Ray way of doing things, whereas ABED would be more like the Martha Stewart method.  AB5MD promotes easy and accessible recipes that don’t dirty a thousand dishes.  Awesome!  While ABED uses words like traditional and exceptional and craftsmanship.  Keywords that trigger certain (shall we say) tendencies in me. 

Anyway, since we were snowed in – thanks to the blizzard of 2011 – I had the brilliant idea to do a side-by-side recipe experiment.  Rachel vs. Martha!

In order to accurately determine the success of the two methods, I picked two recipes that used the same ingredients and basically the same measurements – AB5MD “Master Dough” and ABED “Lean Bread.”  The recipes called for:

  • Flour (I used King Arthur AP Flour)
  • Yeast (I used Fleishmann’s Rapid Rise Instant Yeast)
  • Salt (Kosher salt)
  • Water (tap water from my sink)

I followed each recipe exactly and made the same simple boule shape so that my lack of experience in shaping batards did not affect the final product.

Both books basically followed the same mixing technique but where they part ways is in the rising (fermentation) stage.  AB5MD calls for fermenting the dough at room temperature for 2 hours then refrigerating overnight.  ABED says to refrigerate overnight, immediately after mixing.   After their overnight refrigeration, both doughs are shaped, proofed, and baked in basically the same way. 

So here is the AB5MD dough right out of the fridge…021

and these are the shaped loaves.022

Because most of the fermentation happened during it’s room temperature rise, these loaves only had to proof for about 40 minutes before baking.

Here is the ABED dough right out of the fridge…018

and the shaped loaves.019

Because this dough didn’t ferment at room temperature prior to refrigeration, they require two hours of proofing before baking.

So I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seat, DYING to know how they turned out so here are the baked loaves.

Remarkably different, no?033

The bread on the left is AB5MD and the right is ABED.

This is the interior of the AB5MD-035

Here is ABED-034

I love the no-knead technique and was pleased with both breads.  Kelsey and I did a little taste test and both were delicious.  The AB5MD crust was a little chewier (which I liked), but I preferred the larger, irregular holes of the ABED loaf.  But the honest truth is that was no discernable difference in flavor or texture. 

I think my next experiment will be to try the flour/water ratio of ABED (for the larger hole structure) with the fermentation method of AB5MD (for faster proofing).

Lord knows I can’t leave well enough alone.

Could it also be a nice distraction from the fact that in two weeks we are going to visit a college that’s 2000 miles away?


At any rate, at least now I can regularly produce a decent loaf of homemade bread in my house which makes me (and my family) all kinds of happy.  And makes my house smell UH-MAZE-ING!

And keeps my treadmill in good condition.

Peace, Kelly


About Minding My Nest

wife, mom, not-so-empty nester.
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4 Responses to A Tale of Two Bread Books

  1. Jenmenke says:

    Great post! Thanks for doing all the work for me! Now I can rest assured that abi5md is plenty good enough. The ciabatta and my baguettes are still my favs tho. Try the rye recipe in the 5 min a day. It’s great!

  2. Pingback: Please Do Try This at Home | Minding My Nest

  3. marielle says:

    You’re actually on the right track with the first book but would check the errata on the abi5md site because with a longer rising you’ll get the same crumb that the PR bread had. I know because my loaves from the first recipe look like the PR ones and I proof for almost 2 hours.

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