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A 2nd Helping of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

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It's been more than a year since I began baking bread. I don't bake just once in a while. I'm talking almost every day. I know what you're thinking: "Did she retire? Has she lost her mind?"

I understand your confusion because, quite frankly, a year ago I would have thought the same thing. But that was before I became such a big fan of the method described in the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." In a nutshell, I make a big batch of bread dough once a week using the master recipe. I'm not kidding when I say it takes all of about five minutes to measure, dump and mix. Then I park the dough in the refrigerator.

Each morning, I turn on the oven, grab a wad of dough from the fridge, form it on a cutting board and allow it to rise while I get ready for the day. Then, in the oven it goes. Twenty-five minutes later, voilà! I've got bakery-quality, hot, rustic artisan bread.

That book has really changed my life because now instead of paying $4 for a loaf of bread, I can make it for about 40 cents a loaf! Besides the cost savings, there's just something soul-satisfying about making bread even when you have a very busy life outside the kitchen.

You have to know how excited I was to get my hands on Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois' second helping of fabulous bread recipes, "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients."

Oh, my.

I feel as if I'm in the advanced baking class now. Talk about healthy! Using the same method and dough I've been making every week over the past year, I now can kick it up a notch with Turkish-style pita bread with black sesame seeds, cherry tomato baguettes, rosemary Parmesan breadsticks and pain au potiron (peppery pumpkin and olive oil loaf). I tell you, this new book offers heaven in the oven for health-conscious bread lovers.

I love the chapter on sneaky breads. Jeff and Zoë give clever tips and tricks for how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into dough, resulting in tasty and healthy creations that kids will love. They just won't know about the brown rice, parsley, garlic and bulgur wheat that go into their favorite bread. For those of you with family members who must eat gluten-free, there are recipes for you, too.

The best part about my favorite artisan bread books is that I have two new friends. Even though we never have met in person, I feel as if I know Jeff and Zoë. That's because they've spoken to me on every page. They have taught me how to be a better baker — and now a much healthier baker, too!

Join the bread-baking conversation at my blog, http://www.MoneyRulesDebtStinks.com. I'll try to answer your questions, and I want to know how you're doing with baking your own artisan bread!

Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including her latest, "Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?" You can e-mail her at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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