My mother introduced me to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day a month or so ago, and it has now become affectionately known in our family as ABIFMAD. I gather the authors, Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg, refer to it as AB-in-5. It really doesn’t matter what anyone calls it, the important thing is that this bread is fantastic.

Fantastic and simple.

I love bread. I love good bread and was paying a whopping $8 a loaf when Alan and I lived in the States. And that was several years ago. God only knows what it’s going for now. Since moving here I have made bread and bagels but could never accomplish what I used to buy in the artisan bakeries up north. But it was either make it or do without.

Costa Rica is a wonderful country for many things, but bread isn’t one of them. In fact, their bread stinks. My mother once described it as feeling and tasting like “blown up soda crackers.” To be fair, the last few years have shown a bit of improvement but only because of all the Italian expats here. There are places to find a decent baguette, but the vast majority of Costa Rican bread remains the infamous Bimbo– the Latin version of Wonder Bread–or the blown-up-soda-cracker bread my mother remembers so fondly.

Because of her, and the authors of ABIFMAD, I am now making wonderful artisan bread. It is chewy and fragrant, and the crust, as my father likes to say, fights back. It wasn’t an instantaneous success story, but that is only because I cannot locate (easily) unbleached flour, which absorbs water at a different rate than bleached flour, and I had to adjust a bit because of the humidity here. But my third batch came out perfectly, and I might add that none of my efforts have been throw-aways. By perfect I mean that the crumb was light and shot with air holes, the crust crackly and crunchy, and the flavor yeasty and full-bodied. BREAD!

The recipe is so easy it’s ridiculous and everyone should be baking their own bread from now on. Essentially, the discoverer of this method, Jeff Hertzberg, a doctor, is lazy–by his own admission– and he was looking for a way to bake bread without all the fuss. He mixed all the ingredients together threw it in a container and let it rise for two hours and stuck it in the fridge. When he wanted to bake a loaf he simply pulled off a wad of dough, let it rise, and then baked it on a pizza stone in a very hot oven, Voila!

One batch makes four loaves and will sit in the fridge for up to two weeks, When you want bread pull off a wad and bake it. I’m sure he had failures before this incredible discovery, but we are all now the beneficiaries of his efforts.

I have improvised a bit. I have no pizza stone, so I use a cast iron skillet. My dough tends to spread rather that rise in this humid climate so I put it on parchment paper and let it rise inside a proper sized pot; now it goes up instead of out. Then I transfer it to the skillet when it’s time to bake.

Today for lunch we had a roasted tomato slice and mozzarella cheese with pesto drizzled over it, a tossed salad with romaine lettuce and arugula, and a small fillet of salmon…

And bread!

Published by SC Morgan

I grew up in Oregon and learned not everything is black and white. Now I live in the jungles of Costa Rica where the shades of gray cover the full spectrum. I shoot my mouth off on my blog, social media sites, and sometimes I get published. You can find my blog here: https://scmorgancom.wordpress.com/

6 thoughts on “ABIFMAD~

  1. Hi Sarah,That ABFAB (I’ll never remember ABIFMAD) bread looks scrummy. I have found a replacement for the bread I used to get from the village’s only little bakery which recently closed down. There’s a stall at the Sunday(open air) market in Amble that sells breads and baked goods and I’m loving “Malted Brown Bread”. It’s baked somewhere up the coast and brought down with the canvas and wood stall … and everything sells out quickly, so we have to hoof it over to the Market early on the Sunday.Just nursing Cailean … he has a sore left rear leg, saw the Vet this morning and anti-inflammatories and bed-rest prescribed. I got the tablet into Cailean (in a little lump of meat paste), but get him to stay in bed? Hah!I’m off to read, and hopefully keep Cailean pinned down on the sofa.Cheers!R.


  2. I’ll shorten it further to FMB. there is nothing like warm homemade bread fresh from the oven . . especially with butter . . .Sounds like you cared enough to go through all the tweaks to make it come out right.Send the recipe and I’ll try it here.


  3. Hi Ruth–Before I actually got the book, which is well worth the price, I found the recipe online at this site: http://krisgardens.blogspot.com/2008/01/artisan-bread-in-five-minutes-day.htmlHere is the recipe, but there is a lot more to it than just this. Read about it on the above Web link, or, better yet, check out the book from your local library. Recipe:3 cups lukewarm water (about 100º F)1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)Cornmeal for the pizza peel.It is great bread!You, too, Ross. You’ll be turning out artisan bread in no time and heating your flat all at the same time! Keep it away from Mr. Cailean, though. He’ll want to eat it until his belly drags on the ground. 😉


  4. I am a bread baker too (one of my sons recently said to me, “Mom, people *like* your bread,” which was one of the nicest compliments ever) and am always on the lookout for new recipes–especially for gift breads (see above). I thought this was going to be the 18-hour no knead bread and was pleased to see it was something else. I like the fact that you can get four loaves out of the work of making one loaf, or one batch of dough, anyway.Thanks for sharing it!sz (yep, it’s still cool enough up here in Vermont that I have to let bread dough rise in a warmed oven)


  5. That looks delicious and smells delicious too I bet. My husband would be the size of a whale if I made bread. It’s a pity because where I stayed with friends on a holiday interstate, each morning they would have freshly-made bread from the breadmaker process the night before.No butter though, it was unhealthy they said, so torn-off bread was dipped in quality Balsamic vinegar – something I came to enjoy eventually.


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