A year into baking loaves on a regular schedule, they’re still getting baked. We’re into a routine now, and the kids miss it if the bake takes a break for a week. So every week we’re baking 3 x loaves. One gets eaten on the day, the other two get sliced and put into the freezer and then eaten during the week. That way, we’ve always got fresh bread on the go, plus when you get into this routine, it’s so easy to keep making as it isn’t difficult. You just need to be organised and have some time.
Here are a couple of tools that have helped me to make better looking bread, or just make the whole process easier. One of the first things you’ll want to do when you’re making bread is to make patterns like the professionals make on the tops of your bread loaves. A quick scan through Pinterest you’ll find thousands of images of amazing looking bread, with equally amazing patterns. A ‘Lame’ is what is used to make these patterns work. The one above is fitted with a razor blade that easily creates patterns in a way that a sharp knife cannot match. You can be far more accurate and do intricate patterns like leaves, spirals, etc
Believe it or not, this whisk makes it much easier to combine all the ingredients when you’re mixing by hand. I read about this whisk on a couple of blogs, and all talked about how much easier it is to mix the flour, starter and water together, easier than a spoon, etc. Then, while looking for a new lame, I came across a bundle deal that offered both the Lame and the Danish Whisk, so I bought it on Amazon. I wouldn’t be without either. The whisk is so much easier to use to combine everything, and the lame is great because it has a wooden handle and came with about 5 razor blades. I imagine that I will be able to get many years of use from both.
The pizza stone by Hans Grill, makes all the difference. I use it with shop bought pizzas and the crust is transformed. Now we don’t have soggy pizzas anymore! The pizza stone is wide enough to have 2 x loaves side by side. I’d like to get another so I can do 2 x trays of 2 x loaves. The stone itself is high quality and has been easy to use. Make sure that you put it into a cold oven and then warm it up, if you’ve forgotten to put it in the oven, you’ll need to cool the oven off and then start over. If you put it into a hot oven, you run the risk of cracking it. This is the same advice if you were using a cast iron round, the same will apply.
Note that my pizza stone is now not as clean as it was when I first bought it, but that just adds to the character. You can’t wash them or scrub clean, the material that the pizza stone is made from will ruin if you try.
All these tools make it much easier & tastier to bake bread at home, and all the links above point to Amazon.
This is my weekly batch bake. Making three loaves takes no longer than doing just the one. Plus it means that the family get to have bread throughout the week. I just cut up two of the loaves and put them into the freezer, so they can be easily taken out and put into the toaster.
To bake the three loaves, I use a cast iron bake stone and also a pizza stone, which is big enough to have two loaves. These are cooked at 220c for 25 minutes, turned half way through. I also put a cup of boiling water into a tray at the bottom of the oven just before I put the loaves in. This creates all the steam I need to get a good even crust.
My preference would be to have two pizza stones, but at the moment I’m making use of what I’ve got in the house. At some point though, I’ll get a second. Here’s a link to the Pizza Stone I bought. I can’t rate it highly enough. We’ve cooked homemade pizzas with great success using this. It’s also perfect for cooking up shop bought pizzas and helps create an awesome crust and brings dull pizzas to life.
The loaves prove overnight in the fridge and then I bring them out, slash them with the lame and then put them straight into the oven using a pizza peel.
Using a pizza peel makes it much easier to put loaves into the oven, spin them round half way and then bring them out in the end.
Hardcore book to say the least, but if you had the time and inclination, there is a recipe for every type of bread. And, you get the feeling that he’s next to you helping you with so many tips and suggestions that you really feel as though you could graduate from an apprentice to a fully fledged baker by the end.
Blurb: WINNER OF THE JAMES BEARD AND IACP AWARD – Learn the art of bread making through techniques and recipes for making pizza dough, challah, bagels, sourdough, and more!
“For the professional as well as the home cook, this book is one of the essentials for a bread baker’s collection.”–Nancy Silverton, chef and co-owner, Mozza Restaurant Group
Co-founder of the legendary Brother Juniper’s Bakery, author of ten landmark bread books, and distinguished instructor at the world’s largest culinary academy, Peter Reinhart has been a leader in America’s artisanal bread movement for more than thirty years. Never one to be content with yesterday’s baking triumph, however, Peter continues to refine his recipes and techniques in his never-ending quest for extraordinary bread.
In this updated edition of the bestselling The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter shares bread breakthroughs arising from his study in France’s famed boulangeries and the always-enlightening time spent in the culinary college kitchen with his students. Peer over Peter’s shoulder as he learns from Paris’s most esteemed bakers, like Lionel Poilâne and Phillippe Gosselin, whose pain à l’ancienne has revolutionized the art of baguette making. Then stand alongside his students in the kitchen as Peter teaches the classic twelve stages of building bread, his clear instructions accompanied by more than 100 step-by-step photographs.
You’ll put newfound knowledge into practice with fifty master formulas for such classic breads as rustic ciabatta, hearty pain de campagne, old-school New York bagels, and the book’s Holy Grail–Peter’s version of the famed pain à l’ancienne, as well as three all-new formulas. En route, Peter distills hard science, advanced techniques, and food history into a remarkably accessible and engaging resource that is as rich and multitextured as the loaves you’ll turn out. In this revised edition, he adds metrics and temperature conversion charts, incorporates comprehensive baker’s percentages into the recipes, and updates methods throughout. This is original food writing at its most captivating, teaching at its most inspired and inspiring–and the rewards are some of the best breads under the sun.
- 200g plain flour, or 150g plain flour with 50g almond flour of ground
- 125g (cold) unsalted butter, or salted butter – if using, omit big pinch sea salt
- 50g granulated sugar
For the Filling:
- 3 x large Bramley apples, cored and sliced thinly
- 3 or 4 x tbs of water
- teaspoon of cinnamon
- 75g of raisins/sultanas
Takes 15 min, serves 6.
- Combined the topping ingredients in a large bowl and chop the butter into small pieces. Takes a few minutes. Continue until the mixture resembles small breadcrumbs.
- For the filling, put all the ingredients into a pan and onto a low heat on the stove. Let the apples sweat and begin to break down. After 5 minutes, stir and pour into a 3 litre dish, the one I use is 25cm x 10cm. Sprinkle the crumble topping over, and then put into a 180C oven for about 35-40 minutes to get a brown, even colour.
- Wait 10-15 minutes to cool, then serve with custard or ice cream.
The recipe is adapted from a Delia Smith for the filling, and the topping recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson. I always found that Delia’s recipe was too dry and the crunch wasn’t crunchy enough. Nigella’s has about 50% more butter in it, plus I tend to sprinkle some Demerara sugar over the top as it goes into the oven. This adds to the crunch nicely.