Bread Making 101: Standard Rustic Loaf

You’re very lucky today. Yesterday, I made two loaves! Loaf 6 from Project BreadHead and the one I’m about to detail below.

Prior to buying the book I’m basing project breadhead on, I enrolled on a course at the local college to learn how to make bread, or more specifically, to pick up some techniques I might not otherwise come across from just reading a book. That course started this week and I’ve already learnt a new skill. Win!

The course is massively over subscribed so I’m glad I got my enrollment in super early. I’ve never really had much success with adult courses in the past. I either get kicked off them due to an admin fuck up, I miss them due to work commitments or the tutor fails to turn up. Well, that last one, he got knocked off his bike and broke his shoulder so I’ll let him off!

When I was at proper school, 14 or so, I enrolled on an evening course to do programming. Actual school was boring as fuck and I needed more! I turned up, signed in, sat down amongst all these 40 somethings and joined in. I picked it all up really easy and surprised the hell out of the tutor and the guy sat next to me who was a professional programmer learning a new language. At the end of the lesson, the tutor took me to one side and told me I couldn’t come back because I was under age and I shouldn’t have been allowed to enrol. She was really apologetic and really wanted me to stay but her hands were tied.

Getting back on track, this course looks good but it’s questionable how good the bread will be that we make on the night given the short amount of time we have. The one I made on the night was a big solid lump of dough. I don’t think it had enough time to rise. Didn’t even eat it, just slung it in the green bin. However the recipe looked good so I decided to make it at home.


3tsp dried yeast, 320ml warm water, 1tsp brown sugar, 300g white bread flour, 200g whole wheat flour, 2tsp salt. The whole wheat flour can be any type you like, I used the granary flour from the first loaf of project breadhead. Sieved out the flakes first!

Mix up your yeast. However, with this one, we’re adding sugar and all the water at once. I’ve done this before and it really helps get a good rise if you’re using whole wheat. I don’t think you need sugar in a white loaf. The yeast will get really foamy and smell like a really sweet beer.

Mix your flours together and add the salt. Make a well in the centre.

Add the yeast and mix to form a dough, then knead for 10 minutes until it gets elasticy. I’ve found that when you work with whole wheat flour, the whole loaf is heavier and drier so it won’t get as elastic and you will need some more water on hand.

Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about an hour. As I was making the other loaf at the same time and the oven was being used for dinner, this ended up being left on its first prove for about three hours. A new tip learned from the course is that it doesn’t matter how long you leave the first prove. You can leave it overnight if you wish. Doesn’t make a difference to the end result.

Once risen, knock it back and knead very gently for a minute or so. My next new tip was the art of shaping. I’ve never really cared too much for this but I can see it coming in useful for certain loaves. Use the heel of your hand and push the dough away, turning it as you go. Use the palm of your other hand to help roll this around until you have a nice, even, smooth surface. The bottom will still be flat but that’s ok. Roll in flour and place on a baking tray and leave to rise for 30 mins. The second prove you can’t leave for long.

Slice a cross into the centre of the dough with a sharp knife and leave for 15-20 mins. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 while this is rising. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes. You can use a tray of water to keep the moisture up in the oven to make the bread softer.

Leave to cool on a wire rack. Slice to serve.

I like these rustic breads toasted, buttered and served with an egg! I bet you’re thinking I made that eggcup as a kid and I’ve kept it and it’s really sweet right? No such luck, I’m just really crap at pottery painting, I made that when I was about 23!!

Next week we’ll be making dinner rolls which is perfect timing because I have to make those for Project BreadHead soon too.

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