Homemade doughnuts for breakfast. On a weekday morning. The kids thought I had gone crazy, but they weren’t about to do anything to jeopardize their good fortune. Instead they climbed into their seats and grabbed a doughnut for each little hand before thinking to ask how many they could have.
“Go ahead! Take two!” I said. Far too chipper for 7 a.m.
“Mama’s definitely lost it,” I heard the big one say to the little one. He just shrugged his shoulders and chewed.
But I had them fooled. Those two little doughnuts may have been coated in sugar, but they were also packed with vitamins and fiber. The dough I made the night before included ample servings of whole-wheat flour and pureed pumpkin. Then, with about 45 minutes of rolling, cutting, frying and clean up, I had hot doughnuts waiting for the family and a big box ready to bring to colleagues at work.
The recipe is one of more than 100 in a new cookbook by Southwest residents Jeffrey Hertzberg and Zoë François called “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.” Hertzberg is a doctor who years ago went on a personal quest to recreate the hearty, crusty bread he remembered from his childhood on the East Coast. François is a pastry chef with a professional appreciation for the magical things flour and water can do. Both have small children at home and neither has a lot of time to spare in the kitchen.
Their crusade to put high-quality bread on America’s dinner tables — if not every day then as often as possible — began with their first book, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” published in 2007. The book flew off the shelves and area bookstores had to tell disappointed holiday shoppers that it was on back-order.
The basic principle is simple: Instead of rounds of kneading and rising, you give the dough plenty of water and plenty of time. You mix up the ingredients in a single big batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (less for doughs with egg, fruits, or vegetables). When you’re ready for bread, you scoop out a hunk, let it come to room temperature, and bake. Hot bread on the table less than an hour and a half from when you walk in the door.
This time around, Hertzberg and François have added whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and gluten-free flours to the mix. There are a few ingredients that may be new to your pantry — vital wheat gluten is essential — but if you’re going to be eating fresh bread every day, your doctor will be glad to hear it’s whole-grain.
And if you’re going to be eating doughnuts on a weekend morning, they might as well be François’s “Indian-Spiced Whole-Wheat Doughnuts” made with pumpkin brioche dough and rolled in cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and clove. You’d be crazy to make them absolutely every morning, but don’t think it hasn’t occurred to me to try.