I know perfectly normal people who are terrified of making bread. I can't tell you why, honestly. It's like they think the dough is going to up and attack them, or glom onto their faces and nibble their eyeballs. Like the yeast will prance around their heads like lice, or nestle in their pores and suffocate their skin cells. I don't get it.
Making bread can be an ordeal -- I will admit. But it certainly doesn't have to be, and since the invention of no-knead breads a few years ago, any former excuses now just sound wussy.
In a culinary landscape where so much is recycled and pilfered and built upon the work of those who have come before, there's very little that's genuinely new. But the no-knead method, immortalized in the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007) by physician Jeff Hertzberg and pastry chef Zoë François, really simplified things. If you've got a big bucket, a refrigerator, and some time to chill out and do nothing while the gluten relaxes and the yeast works its magic, you can make this bread. The happy corollary is that each batch yields multiple loaves, so you can bake up fresh bread from a single bucket of dough over the course of two weeks.
A few months ago, the pair came out with a second book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. This version makes use of whole grain flours, seeds, and a mysterious substance called vital wheat gluten (so scary! no, it's really not) to produce crusty, chewy, bakery-quality loaves. See pictorial evidence above.
Zoë even said I could share the book's master recipe with you here, which I was going to do, but the fact is, I think it's only fair that you get the recipe from their site directly. Plus there's a super cool video (h/t Jennifer!) of Jeff demo-ing their method and Zoë making pizza lollipops, so why don't you go there and show them some love instead. Here's the recipe, and here's the video.
It's Friday anyway, so no excuses. It's not like you've got a hot date.