Our daily bread

It’s the third week of 2011 and I have stopped buying bread. Well, I do have an emergency loaf in the freezer, but I am no longer a prisoner to the over-priced and not-that-great French bakery around the corner and I can smugly avoid the bread aisle at the supermarket. I haven’t gotten around to growing the sourdough starter yet (sorry Dom!), but definitely feel back in the swing of breadmaking.

These robust loaves have become our daily bread. They’re quick to make, have a good crust, a nice crumb and turn into excellent toast. The recipe comes from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cooks Companion, one of my most-used books for both recipe and reference purposes.

Country-style Crusty Bread
I have to thank my sister Marion for the baking paper technique described below – much easier than fluffing about with flour-covered teatowels and the like. This makes two loaves, so you have one to eat today and one to freeze.

800g unbleached strong flour
200g wholemeal strong flour
1Tbsp instant dried yeast
1Tbsp fine salt
2Tbsp olive oil
600ml lukewarm water

Put everything into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on low speed until you have a smooth but not sticky dough (about 8 minutes). If you don’t have a mixer, prepare to knead for about 15-20 minutes.
Divide dough in half (I weigh it to be sure) and put each half into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with tea towels and leave until doubled, about one hour.
Knock back and knead each piece for a couple of minutes, then return to bowls and let rise again for about 30 minutes, covered with tea towels again.
Gently form each piece into a loaf (“like a fat cigar,” Stephanie says) and place on a liberally floured piece of baking paper. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C, with a heavy baking tray inside. Carefully lift the baking paper and loaves onto the hot tray and bake for about 20 minutes, then turn over and bake for another five minutes (you can remove the baking paper at this point). The base of each loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.



  1. January 18, 2011 / 8:31 pm

    those look fantastic. I'll be attempting to bake more breads soon. 🙂

  2. January 18, 2011 / 11:53 pm

    YUM! This bread looks delicious and way more achievable than many other bread recipes! I'll have to give it a go 😀

  3. January 19, 2011 / 12:10 am

    The breads look very rustic to me. Good that you can make your own bread.

  4. January 19, 2011 / 12:28 am

    Looks like a truly great loaf. I love my sourdough but I do feel I've become a slave to it a little… constantly staring at me from the fridge… plus I'm feeding her regularly as I'm on a no carb January so she's not even being used. Your loaves look very good and I love the idea of turning them over for the last 5 mins… brilliant… and afterall there's nothing more smug than a home bread baker!!

  5. January 19, 2011 / 8:39 am

    i agree with dom baking bread does bring about a big of smugness, i'm going to make these for sure 🙂

  6. January 19, 2011 / 9:16 am

    These loves look lovely. We got snowed in last winter and the shops ran out of bread so we both started making bread and soon got into a nice routine. It became almost therapeutic and the house smelt lovely and homely…… somehow over the summer we stopped…..

    I made my first batch again on Monday and like you had forgotten just how easy it is….and how much better it tastes when you make your own…and the house smells great.

    Good tip about the baking paper….

  7. January 19, 2011 / 9:17 am

    Whoops 'these loves' …….these loaves look lovely…

  8. January 19, 2011 / 9:35 am

    I'm giving this recipe a try poste haste!

  9. January 19, 2011 / 12:52 pm

    Those breads look delicious!! 🙂
    I've been wanting to make my bread for ages and I think you and Stephanie may have just convinced me! 🙂

  10. January 19, 2011 / 8:17 pm

    Yum, looks great! I have some sourdough starter in the fridge that I must fire up – I can give you some if you like

  11. March 22, 2011 / 3:08 am

    awesome looking bread, we have also been baking our own bread at home now for about 2 months (here in kiwilandia). we bake predominantly from a sour dough culture we have grown.. it is an interesting challenge 🙂 every few days, mix rise for a day or so .. bake .. and we get these quaint healthy heavy breads .. sometimes interspersed with fine flour yummies.. but mostly healthy loaves. it has become a lifestyle

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