Article | The best bread you’ve ever had…

The best bread you’ve ever had…

Is made by your own hands

It’s true. Here’s why.

  1. A fresh loaf that isn’t quite perfect, will *always *be the better than a day old perfect one.

  2. Bakeries these days tend to bake early in the morning, leaving us with 6 to 12 hour old loaves.

Those two facts combined, you better start looking at your own oven to produce bread like you have never had before. Remember that tantilising fresh bread smell? That can be yours on demand. Mmmmmm…

The secret comes in two parts, and it is not fragile. A wet dough with an overnight rise, and a cast iron or enamel pot to bake it in. Let me explain.

The wet dough and a long rise

By using a long rise, we can skip the need to kneed. Completely. Let me give you a recipe and some steps to show you how easy it is.

1000g flour
780g warm water
20g salt
3g instant yeast (about 1/2 tsp)

Now, the super complex steps. Ready?

  1. Mix everything together so there is no dry flour left

  2. Cover and leave overnight. (If you have a warm spot like a hot water closet, put it there, otherwise don’t stress, just try it and add more yeast and/or warmer water next time to compensate.)

  3. Shape into two rounds and bake one.

  4. Put the other into the fridge to bake within the next week.

That’s it! Now, you can make the process as complicated as you like, but it doesn’t have to be advanced to be great bread.

I convinced by brother to give it a try, and the results speak for themselves!

I convinced by brother to give it a try, and the results speak for themselves!

Shaping can be a bit of a knack. Do your best to try and nudge the dough into a round shape without knocking any air out of it.

The other round you didn’t bake can be baked into another loaf, or used to make pizza or, my favourite, focaccia, sometime in the next 5–7 days.

The cast iron pot

The second secret is using a cast iron pot to create a moist environment in the oven. Heat your oven to 240C with the pot inside. Once it reaches temperature, drop the dough into the pot and put the lid back on. After 30 mins, take the lid off for 10–15 mins. Let the bread cool by 30–60 mins before cutting (if you can!) for best results.

So, the steps to bake are:

  1. Put pot in oven.

  2. Preheat to 240C.

  3. Take the pot out and place the dough in. Lid back on and back in oven.

  4. 30 mins later, take the lid off.

  5. 15 mins after that, remove bread and place on cooling rack (or lean it up sideways, the key is to get airflow around the cooling loaf).

That’s it, really.

Sure, there are plenty of other tips, tricks, and tools, but the key is to get started. This method might work well for a year or so before you are really comfortable and start looking for other techniques and tricks to challenge your newfound bread baking prowess.

So get baking, and don’t be afraid to bake a few failures, it’s all part of the journey to that perfect loaf!


A few final notes, not essential, but questions I asked when I got started:

  1. Instant yeast? Active yeast? Fresh? What you want is “Instant”. It’s a fine yeast that doesn’t need to be activated in water before mixing into the flour. Looks like very fine granules. The supermarkets sell Edmond’s brand in little sachets, or you can go somewhere like Moore Wilson’s and buy 500g of it for about $4, which will last for months in the fridge.

  2. High grade flour, or standard? What’s the difference? High grade means high gluten content, which makes our dough stretchy and capable of holding all the gas that the yeast produces. You can use standard, but you will get better results with high grade. Standard for pancakes, cakes, scones and cookies etc. High grade for bread.

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