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Filling a need: Artisan bread in five minutes a day

Alumnus Jeffrey Hertzberg, M.D., teamed up with pastry chef Zoë François to write a book on artisan bread made easy. (Photo: Mark Luinenberg)

“I’ve been interested in food since I was a kid,” says Jeffrey Hertzberg, M.D., M.S., a resident alumnus in internal medicine and author of a popular new book on bread baking. “It’s the opposite of science: You can be creative.”

Now an adjunct assistant professor in the University’s Institute for Health Informatics, Hertzberg began baking in 1987. “I learned [to bake] during my medical residency. My wife taught me,” he says. Good artisan bread—which is crafted as opposed to mass-produced—wasn’t available then and homemade recipes took too long, so he decided to experiment to find a better option.

Hertzberg’s culinary creativity is on full display in his new book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, cowritten by pastry chef Zoë François.

“A lot of people think that bread baking is hard,” Hertzberg says. The book dispels that notion, proposing a stored “wet dough” method. The secret: You use much more water than in traditional methods and store the dough in the refrigerator, which slows fermentation. Most important, it allows home bakers to pull out some dough and bake a loaf of bread anytime they want.

“It looks fantastic, but anybody can do it,” Hertzberg says.

The book found an eager audience, clinching Amazon.com’s top spot for bread books. In addition to his adjunct position and new-author status, Hertzberg also has a consulting business, Medformatics, Inc.®, but says he has enjoyed taking time away from his day jobs to share his love of homemade bread.

And, he says, he can’t fathom going back to buying bread. “My kids make a very weird face if we give them store-bought bread.”

Hertzberg and François plan to follow their success with a new book, Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which will include more whole-grain and gluten-free recipes, as well as suggestions for adding vegetables to the mix.

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