Give us today our daily bread…

Chief among my New Year resolutions is the one to make bread. About 10 years ago I had a sourdough starter on the go all the time and made bread a lot, partly because I was living in big shared flats and there were always lots of willing eaters. I’ve decided that 2011 is the year to get back in the saddle and am challenging myself to make bread of some sort at least once a week.

But because I wasn’t organised enough to have a sourdough starter on the go for January 1 (that was the old me, so 2010!), I used Hugh F-W’s recipe for a ‘cheaty yeasty sponge loaf’. This is brilliant, no-stress breadmaking – especially if you employ a mixer to do all the kneading. I do love kneading but I think I love being able to do other things while the mixer is doing all the work even more. I haven’t quite got it nailed yet, but for once time is on my side.

Cheat’s Sourdough (from River Cottage Everyday)
These instructions assume a working knowledge of basic breadmaking – if you can’t follow them, then you can definitely find far more experienced advice elsewhere on the interweb!

500g strong bread flour (I used some Italian 00 flour lurking in the pantry)
5g dried yeast (about 1 1/2 tsp)
2tsp fine sea salt
325ml warm water

The night before you want your bread to be ready, combine 250g of the flour with the yeast and water. Beat to form a thick batter, then cover with cling film and leave overnight.
In the morning, beat in the remaining flour and salt, then knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and silky. It will be fairly sticky and wet to start with. (I use the dough hook in my freestanding mixer so I can have a cup of tea and check my emails while the bread is doing its thing).
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for an hour or two, until  doubled in size. Knock back (deflate) the dough and shape, then cover loosely and let rise until doubled in size again.
Preheat the oven to 250C. About five minutes before you want to put the loaf in the oven, put a baking tray in the oven to heat up. Take the hot baking sheet from the oven, dust it with flour, and carefully transfer the risen dough to it by tipping it out of the proving basket/bowl, upside down, on to the sheet. Slash the top of the loaf a few times with a very sharp knife or pair of scissors.
Put the loaf into the hot oven and give a few squirts of water from a clean spray bottle over and around it. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 200C, give the oven another spray, and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap its base. Leave to cool completely, on a rack (or wait at least 20 minutes) before slicing.

Do you have any foodie New Year resolutions? Better still, do you have a great bread recipe for me to try?



  1. January 3, 2011 / 8:30 pm

    Happy New Year! What a great way to start the year.Thanks for the recipe and making it easy to understand..I also try all kinds of method to make a nice ,crusty bread.These days however due to the cold weather ,my bread dough doesn't double up in size..wonder if you have any tips on that?
    Thank you..

  2. January 3, 2011 / 9:38 pm

    new year foodie resolution is to try making pasta …. and i have a bread recipe over at my place, its called the 'new york deli loaf', takes a while but its so worth it, everyone loves it … yours looks really yum I always feel pretty chuffed when I make bread …

  3. January 4, 2011 / 10:12 am

    Fantastic resolution! And I love the start you have made to it too, I'll be giving this recipe a try ;0)

  4. January 4, 2011 / 1:30 pm

    Hi Lucy, check out the 'I've Blogged' Group Giveaway post on UKFB 🙂

  5. January 4, 2011 / 7:27 pm

    lovely bread but PURLEASE!… sourdough is too easy to start… its flour and water and a week of feeding… start the MOMENT you read this and by next week you'll have your first loaf… here's my recipe for a sourdough which been giving me pleasure for a few months now: first read this:
    then this:

  6. January 4, 2011 / 8:18 pm

    Ha ha ha!!! this is my resolution too!! how fantastic!!! your loaf looks great!! 🙂

  7. January 4, 2011 / 8:31 pm

    My foodie resolution is to cook the many recipes I have kept from food blogs I read.
    I definitely have to try to make proper bread this year. Wish me luck.

  8. January 6, 2011 / 10:07 pm

    My best tip for a loaf that is going to be inverted onto a baking stone or preheated oven tray is to raise the shaped dough on piece of baking paper (floured or polenta-ed if it's a wet dough) then flip it over onto a second piece of paper sitting on a rimless sheet. Gently peel away the top paper, slash dough, and shoot the whole contraption, paper and all, off the rimless tray onto the hot oven tray – the paper doesn't affect the crustiness of the bread, but you can pull it out from under the loaf when you open the oven to spray the loaf again; it will have done its job by then and you want to smell bread not scorched baking paper.

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