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Book Reviews by Norene  
Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day reviewed by Norene GilletzGet ready for healthy homemade bread 
by Norene Gilletz

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First appeared on The CJN, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

When I saw the title Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I was intrigued. Healthy eating is at the top of the list of most people’s New Year’s resolutions, but January also brings long, cold nights, a desire to hibernate and a craving for carb-loaded comfort foods such as bread and chocolate.

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables and Gluten-Free Ingredients (Thomas Dunne Books), was co-authored by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and pastry chef Zoë François. Their first bread-baking book, Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day, has sold over 200,000 copies, with rave reviews.

In their latest book, Hertzberg and François took their simple, super-fast technique and adapted it for the health-conscious bread-baker. Their secret is to mix up a big batch of super-moist yeast dough that takes just five minutes of active preparation time, store it in the refrigerator, cut off portions as needed over the next week or so, then shape and bake. You’ll find recipes for Black and White Braided Pumpernickel/Rye, 100 per cent Whole Wheat Bread, Garlic Knots with Olive Oil, Braided Challah with Whole Wheat and Wheat Germ, and Chocolate Espresso Whole Wheat Bread (below). Many of the recipes are 100 per cent whole grain.

The authors have also included several gluten-free breads and pastries, along with helpful information about unfamiliar ingredients. Gluten-Free Olive Oil Bread can be baked as a free-form loaf with a crispy crust, or can be transformed into pizza with a crust that tastes like the real thing.

The authors answer bread questions at their website, www.healthybreadinfive.com.

This book will show you that there is time enough for home-baked bread, and that it can be part of a healthy diet. Whether you are looking for more whole grains, watching your weight, trying to reduce your cholesterol, or just care about what goes into your body, this book is a must-have. Enjoy in good health!

CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO WHOLE WHEAT BREAD

“I was so pleased when the nutritional powers that be deemed dark chocolate and espresso ‘good for you.’ Considering what a large portion of my diet they occupy, I was relieved to know I no longer needed to feel guilty, not that I ever really had. So, in an attempt to make you all a bit healthier and a lot happier I’ve come up with Chocolate Espresso Bread. Not too sweet but packed with flavour.”
Zoë François

Makes enough dough for at least two 2-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved. Use any leftover dough to make cupcakes (below).

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 tbsp. kosher salt (increase or decrease to taste)
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup lukewarm brewed espresso or strong coffee
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
4 large eggs
1/2 cup neutral-flavoured oil
3/4 cup honey
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water) for brushing on top crust
raw sugar for sprinkling on top

Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Combine the liquid ingredients and the chopped chocolate, and mix with the dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine. The dough will be loose, but it will firm up when chilled. Don’t try to use it without chilling at least 2 hours.

Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

Refrigerate it 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 it in 2-pound portions. When using frozen dough, thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before use, then allow the usual rest/rise time.

On baking day, grease an 8-1/2x 4-1/2-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Elongate the ball into an oval and place it into the loaf pan; your goal is to fill the pan about three-quarters full. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise for 1 hour 45 minutes.

Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack placed in the centre of the oven. If you’re not using a baking stone in the oven, a 5-minute preheat is adequate. Steam is not needed.

Just before baking, Use a pastry brush to brush the loaf’s top crust with egg wash, and then sprinkle with the raw sugar.

Bake near the centre of the oven for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, until firm. Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool on a rack before slicing and eating.

Variation: CUPCAKES

On baking day, grease a muffin tin. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-1/2-pound (small cantaloupe-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a smooth ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

To form the cupcakes, divide the ball into 12 roughly equal portions (each about the size of a golf ball). Shape each one into a smooth ball as you did above. Place the buns in the prepared muffin tins. Allow to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 40 minutes.

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

Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crust with egg wash, and then sprinkle with the raw sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cupcakes are richly browned and firm. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and allow to cool on a rack before eating.

Notes:

It’s true, chocolate may have powerful health benefits: moderation is the key, because chocolate is high in sugar and fat. But chocolate contains phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals) that may increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower blood pressure and decrease the likelihood of blood clots. Milk chocolate has less of these phytochemicals than dark chocolate because some of the cocoa is replaced by milk, and white chocolate doesn't have any at all.

Feeling better yet? Well, your coffee contains antioxidants. According to one study, Americans get their highest dose of antioxidants from coffee. It’s not yet clear whether that translates into higher body stores of antioxidants, but it’s opened up a whole new area of research, not to mention apparently justifying those mocha lattes (careful: sweetened or creamy coffee drinks are a major source of unnecessary calories).

SOFT WHOLE WHEAT SANDWICH BREAD

This is the bread your kids will want in their school lunch boxes every day. It’s nice and soft, with just a touch of sweetness from honey.

Makes enough dough for at least two 2-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

5 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 tbsp. kosher salt (increase or decrease to taste)
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup honey
5 large eggs
2/3 cup neutral-flavoured oil, or unsalted butter, melted, or zero trans fat, zero hydrogenated oil margarine, melted

Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

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

Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. The flavour will be best if you wait for at least 24 hours of refrigeration.

On baking day, lightly grease an 8-1/2x4-1/2-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Elongate the ball into an oval and place it into the loaf pan; your goal is to fill the pan about 3/4 full. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the loaf to rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. The baking stone is not essential for loaf-pan breads; if you omit it, the preheat can be as short as 5 minutes.

Place the loaf on a rack near the centre of the oven and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Smaller or larger loaf pans will require adjustments in baking time.

Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing and eating. 

Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author, teacher and food consultant who lives in Toronto. For updated information, call 416-226-2466 416-226-2466 or visit her website at www.gourmania.com

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