Crusty artisan bread with shards of glass

Nov 18th, 2008

Mmmm, hot, crusty and fresh from the oven. With just a smattering of shattered glass.  Nothing says homemade like fresh bread.  At least that’s what they all say.  The results of my efforts, however, proved otherwise.

If you are dreaming of fresh loaves that look something like this:

You might want to go and check out Farmhouse Greetings. She makes bread the old fashioned way, without glass fragments.

But if you’re not a sissy, stick with me.

I should make one thing clear: my mother is in no way responsible for the events surrounding the spectacular exploding bread caper of ’08.  Really. It’s just that in sharing the recipe over the phone some things got lost in translation, like the fact that her lasagna pan was made of something other than glass.

The gist of the bread baking is this: you create a huge hunk of the dough, keep it in the fridge, and then tear it off and bake as needed.  What keeps the bread soft and fluffy on the inside yet crusty on the outside?  A steaming pan of water, simmering just beneath the baking bread.

Word to the wise: despite the fact that your inner voice might object using only a nagging whisper, LISTEN WHEN IT TELLS YOU NOT TO ADD WATER TO A HOT GLASS PAN.   I’m not saying that I would do anything that insanely stupid, I’m just saying, if you’ve got a little voice, you might want to listen up.

So how do you encrust a warm loaf of artisan bread with billions of tiny shards of glass?  Easy.  Just heat an empty glass pan to 450°.  Lean your head into the hot oven. Pour lukewarm water into the pan and watch the fireworks.  It’s a spectacular show.

Brave reader, here is what your oven may look like after just one shattered glass, bread-baking bash:

Mom got her recipe from a new book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. She loves it. Having pilfered the recipe over the phone I can say that I am not a huge fan of the million shards of flying glass part of the recipe. But Mom’s breads consistently turn out warm and crusty and, most notably, glass-free.

And she tells me that eating bread without risk of blood is just as enjoyable as my way.  So maybe next time I’ll just buy the book.

14 Comments on “Crusty artisan bread with shards of glass”

  1. cookie said:

    I love this one..and the new bread without the glass is just as crunchy

  2. Jeff Hertzberg said:

    I’m Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. So sorry about the glass pan… in the book we specify a broiler tray, and somewhere on our website we say that glass is a big no-no, for exactly the reason you experienced.

    But I’m glad your family’s enjoying the bread. Come visit us anytime at, where you can post questions into any “Comments” field, or click on “Bread Questions” on the left side of the homepage and choose among the options.

    Jeff Hertzberg

    Chicago tribune video:

  3. the mama bird diaries said:

    oh my. That’s some serious damage. You know what? I would have done the same thing.

  4. Danielle said:

    mmm, you’re one glassy babe! And who doesn’t like their bread with a little bite?

  5. G-PMikey said:

    The small glass pieces are really not that dangerous, except for your teeth and tush! Try something a little less crunchy.

  6. grace said:

    Good job! please don’t be offended if I don’t let you bring the bread to any family dinners. We love you but not glassy bread, Grace

  7. David said:

    I have to say that I’m really surprised and relieved that you were not hurt. I used to bake bread when I lived in VT and I would always add a half cup of jacks, you know, the kid toy. Party in your mouth everytime!

  8. Robin said:

    OMG! I did the same thing when I was boiling the salsa jars… I wandered away (ok, got distracted online) and the water ran low. I poured in more water and kabooom. Salsa on the ceiling, a blistering burn on my hand, and glass all over my kitchen.

  9. sharon said:

    Scary! I hate it when things explode in the oven. Better luck next time. See you Saturday!

  10. Brooke said:

    Let me start by saying: I’m impressed that you were even attempting to make bread! Homemade bread is not in my vernacular. In all my 37 years, I’ve never even tried. Must be in the genes. Bread making and sewing seemed to be skills that were avoided at all costs in my family! So, bravo to you for trying. What’s a few parts per million glass?

  11. Lanie said:

    Sorry about the explosion but luckily you have now gotten the author of the book to chime in with advice! Great post :-)

  12. Robin said:

    Texture without added fat, who knew? If the loaves aren’t a hit with the family, you could always freeze them and give them away next year for Halloween.

  13. Ghania said:

    Oh my I cant even imagine that ordeal, I would have just passed out. But kudos to you.. never will I even attempt that on.

  14. Mon said:

    There’s something comforting in knowing you’re not the only erratic baker out there.