The Tragic Optimist

bread baking

I don’t normally post reviews, but I needed to share my new favorite cookbook.

One of the lovely things about living in Minnesota is the abundance of really good bakeries all over the place. Between that and my laziness and the fact that I’ve never been particularly good at baking, I’ve generally not felt the need to bake. But this Christmas, I asked for and got the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and finally in the past couple of weeks have given it a try. I just took my 5th loaf of bread – a bâtard – out of the oven.

I definitely recommend the book. First off, it really is as easy as the authors make it out to be. I’ve also baked boule, brioche, and raisin brioche, and all were really pretty simple. There are other recipes that look to be a bit more involved, but with my confidence from these loaves, I’m feeling good about giving them a try. Another thing I love is how little effort it takes to get the bread baked. The idea is that you mix the dough (no kneading), and then store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. When you want bread, you take it out of the fridge, shape it – which takes less than a minute – let it rest for a bit and then bake it. And one more great thing: the loaves are relatively small. Chris, Zoe, and I don’t eat all that much bread, but we love good fresh bread. Which means that loaves of bread often end up stale or moldy. But these are pretty much the perfect size for our family. And I love being able to bake good bread for everyone every once in a while. Oh yeah, and the house smells awesome right now.



  1. Angela Heffernan

    Have heard about this book on the Splendid Table Podcast and was very interested in it; glad to hear a good review. I’m really happy with a little cookbook I think called Adventures in Food … something like that … which is about teaching small children about different culinary traditions (i.e. Italian families give babies parmesan rinds to teeth on, etc.). The chapters are great — one is about introducing babies/children to aromas, another to textures, another to play and fun with food … Rowan’s too young for most of the recipes, but I enjoyed the idea behind the book!

  2. You have just given me a new found confidence in baking! Bread is something I have always thought was out of my league. I am one of those people who loves to cook/bake but always less than pleased with the results. My husband is such a trooper, though. He always eats it with a smile on his face!

  3. Your bread looks so good!! Your little Zoe is adorable!!!! I stumbledupon your blog and am enjoying it. :0)


  4. After stumbling across your blog via cribsheet, I can’t wait to try bread from this cookbook. I have been meaning to get back into bread baking, but the time…..the time. Now I have incentive!

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