I loved bread from the time I was a little kid. I remember standing in a queue in the bakery, smell of freshly baked bread was everywhere. I’d have a few bites of the hot bread on my way back. My mom never baked bread so I was never introduced to the taste of homemade bread until I was an adult. One day I decided I wanted to make my own, but I don’t know where to start. I bought a bread making machine and mixtures ready to make the bread. What a huge mistake!! What can I say, it was several years ago and internet wasn’t what it’s now. The knowledge wasn’t so close and so easy to gain. After few breads, which were to dry plus they had holes from the mixing attachments, I put my machine in the dark corner of my pantry. I guess it is still out there. Soon after that I found a nice bakery that sold sourdough bread, which our family really liked. Then I started reading about people baking their own bread with cast iron pans. Then after some research I found Chad’s book Tartine Bread That was it! The book takes you step by step and it taught me how to bake the most delicious bread ever!
First you’ll need good flour. I stay away from bleached flours, buy organic ones, that were produced by small companies. The difference in the taste is amazing. You will also need water and salt. I use sea salt. That’s it.
First you’ll need a starter. If you have a friend who can give you some- go for it. I made my first myself but recently after a month of no gluten diet or after few weeks of holidays I was more than happy to use some help from a friend and not have to start over with the process. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks to make a starter.
MAKING A STARTER:
you’ll need: flour(I used 50/50 ratio of wheat strong bread flour and wholemeal flour), luke warm water
Mix a handful of flour mix with water so it makes thick batter with no lumps. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 2-3 days in a shady place.Then you start feeding your starter. Discard 80% of the batter and mix the rest with equal amount of flour and water. You should have the amount of 3/4 of a mug. Repeat for 2-3 weeks. When it rises and falls in predictable manner – it’s ready!
The day before you’re going to bake your bread, in the evening make your leaven. I add 2 T of the starter, 200g of warm water, dissolve and then I add 200g of flour mixture. I cover it with a kitchen towel and leave on my kitchen counter overnight.
Add half of the leaven to a mixing bowl, add 600g of warm water and dissolve. Add 1 kg of flour(I usually use 800 g bread wheat flour and 200 g wholemeal wheat flour). Now I make my Kitchen Aid work on the batter. I read somewhere that it takes 1000 turnes in the mixer to make a good bread and I stick to this, because it’s working really well since I started. So think about 10 minutes of dough hook on the 6 gear of KA(that’s medium speed). After that I dissolve to heaping tablespoons of sea salt in a bit of water and add to the batter. Mix for another minute. Now time for some magic tricks.
My bread rises in a cold oven but with a glass next to the bowl that is filled with hot boiling water. It works wonders. Every 30 minutes I turn the batter three times. I do it five- six times, so the “cold oven” rising takes about three hours. Then it’s shaping time. I flour the kitchen counter and divide the batter into two. I shape the loaves. I recommend this film to see how the master does it:
I put them in a bowl, covered with clean kitchen towel, dusted with rice flour(I use brown rice flour). Let it rise in the basket for another 3 hours.See the film to see how to do it.
Put your cast iron pan in the cold oven, put the oven to max temperature. Let it warm for 45 minutes. It will be super hot. Look below for more advice on the pan. When it’s hot take the lid up(be super careful!) and put the bread in, score it just how you like it and bake for 15 minutes with the lid on, and 20 minutes with the lid off in 220C/428F. Enjoy!I love mine with creamy avocado with chilli flakes, Maldon salt and lime juice and soft boiled eggs- pure heaven!
It smells divine, the skin is OH SO CRUNCHY, and the bread rises like crazy thanks to the cast iron pan. It takes two days to make this bread but it’s so worth it. No artificial yeast is used in this recipe, so it’s super healthy as are all long fermented foods. They are amazing for your gut and give you beneficial bacteria. When you make your starter by yourself it consists of the yeast and bacteria that are in the flour and on your hands.
To bake the bread I use 24cm Le Creuset pan which you can see here Le Creuset Cast Iron Round Casserole, Cerise, 24 cm
and find it perfect. The key secret is to make the pan really really hot. I put it in the cold oven and start heating up the oven to almost max temperature(250c/482F) for 45 minutes. Of course you have to be super careful when handling the pan! Make sure your pan has a handle suited for such hot temperatures, it should be silver not black if using Le Creuset.
My friend Mati showed me this one lately and it also looks super cool! Emile Henry 28 x 16 cm Les Secrets Bread Cloche, Red