More adventures with bread …

So it’s been a little over the week since you received the good oil on bread. No doubt you have now produced seven or so perfect loaves. What next?

Well, we can up the efficiency a bit by making enough dough for three loaves at time, it will keep in the fridge for about two weeks. And we can get a bit more serious about weights and measures by using the kitchen scales.

Bakers use a system that gives proper proportions in the mix, the Baker’s percentage. Since the flour is the most important ingredient let the flour equal 100%, then for the no-knead method you will need about 74% of that amount of water and 1 to 2% of that amount of salt. For three loaves thus:-

  • 1500 grams flour
  • 1110 grams water
  • 15 grams of salt (the lower end of the range – keep it healthy)
  • 1 spoonful of instant dried yeast

The water should be lukewarm. After that easy mixing process the dough should sit in a warm room for about three hours then into the fridge it goes. The next day break off a third, flop, fold and bake it. Just the same method as Steve has taught us, the Dutch Oven should be thoroughly preheated, then 235°C for 20 minutes covered and a further 20 uncovered.

It’s also time to start experimenting with a few variations. You can substitute up to about 200g of that 1500g of baker’s flour with wholemeal, spelt or rye flour without needing to change the system. A few sesame seeds on top makes the result look even more pleasing.

My first spelt loaf …

… tasted as good as it looks.

This all becomes very addictive. There are a heap more variations and it may well be time to invest in The New Artisan Bread by Hertzberg and Francois published by Thomas Dunne Books, the no-knead system explained in depth with enough variations on the theme to keep you going for months.

Whatever you do don’t buy Tartine Bread by Robertson from Chronicle Books or The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Reinhart, Ten Speed Press or watch anything on YouTube about sourdough. Those things are seriously addictive …

The next episode … how to make a sourdough starter.




Adventures with bread …

Episode one.

When my dearly beloved and I moved to the bush we bought a bread making machine.

Every now and again you eat bread that has the perfect crust, the finest crumb and a taste to die for. Nothing like that ever came out of the machine. It made bread that was better than a supermarket loaf. That’s setting the bar not far above dog turd so means very little. It was functional and fairly easy. Then one day I came across Steve …

Inspired, I followed the instructions and made this …

The key features of the process are the Dutch Oven and the wet mix plus long proof.

The wet mix is convenient, tends to give an open crumb but makes it impossible to shape the loaf except with a container. It works.

The Dutch Oven does for a single loaf what a traditional bakers oven did when loaded to the brim with loaves by helping to ensure the heat is evenly distributed and the moisture in the dough is available to help caremalise the crust. My first Dutch Oven was a cast iron camp oven and worked perfectly but after a few more adventures you may want to use a different method and it pays to buy one that can be used either way up …


If you bake in a bread pan instead of a Dutch Oven you need to get some steam in when the dough first goes in. If your oven is so equipped that can be a burst of steam, alternatively a shallow tray of water can go into the oven five minutes before the dough.

Twelve fluid ounces equals 355ml, 450°F = 230°C. I find that 235° gives a better result and I bake 20 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered.

The idea of beer bread took my fancy. Beer and bread are both the result of exposure of carbohydrates to yeast and have been linked since the beginning of history. I might also have started here instead …

Give it a try and let me know how you go.

Episode two will be about a week off.