How I Make Bread

Word on the street is that THIS zine is out! I think we will get ours at Mikes today.. so come one, come all and snap one up! Or you can go here!

Reading Nichola’s blog made me realise that we are all on a bit of a foodie kick at the moment. Did you see her bagels?! That’s my kind of cooking too – slow, sweet smelling and step-by-step. And if they sound good – don’t forget to try Amy Karol’s Favourite Naan – I did and they work PERFECTLY – especially on the barbeque (although it’s raining today in Melbourne – so no chance of bbq naan in this neck of the woods!)

I’ve had a brilliant idea! Our wood-fired oven is still in the, um, shall we say, developmental stages, as Cam has gone off on a tangent making resin birds. This has meant that my BREAD making rituals have had to go by the wayside – as we only have a dinky mini oven in our Mikes kitchen, which is just NOT big enough to cook a few loaves of bread at a time. (Although it makes a good tart and really good lasagna, thank you oven.)

SO – I’ve decided that if i make five or six loaves at once – then shoot out the back gate with them – up the lane two doors and into NINO’s PIZZA – then Nino might just bake them for me… if I leave a loaf with him too! That’s the plan!
I’ll let you know how it goes.. but in the mean time – here’s my BREAD recipe. If you make the starter today, you’ll have bread tomorrow. It makes three small Pane Toscano style loaves – very free-form (like me!) – so you can share it with your neighbours (like Nino!).

Or you could take some to poor, lovely Loobylu – with her house full ‘o’ sick kidlets, she could do with some baking love I reckon.. and take her some Jam too.. Jam and cream and bread sounds good! This is the jam you make in the oven.. hands free a la Nigella!

How Pip Makes Bread
You DO need 10 cups of flour.

It makes 3 free-form loaves.

Make the starter first – it’s easy.
1 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water – NOT too hot
3 cups of white flour (bakers flour or unbleached)
1 cup cold water

Add the yeast to the warm water. Wait till it goes frothy. Then mix in the flour and the rest of the water. I do this in the Kitchen Aid or Food Processor. Put in a DEEP bowl in the fridge – with plenty of room for it to grown. Leave until tomorrow.

Make the dough – it’s easy.
This will make about 3 small loaves.
1 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water – NOT too hot
7 cups of white flour (bakers or unbleached)
1 tbsp sea salt
3 cups of cold water
a splash of olive oil
HALF of the starter you made (freeze the rest for a jump start to the next batch – you’ll thank me later*)
Polenta or flour to stop the bread sticking to the trays

(* you’ll need to defrost it to room temperature before use)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water as before. Put the flour into a really big mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast/water mix, salt, cold water and starter (remember you’re only using half of the starter we made). Now mix it all together – you can do this in a KitchenAid on slow (but be prepared for a few floury clouds!) – or by hand. I don’t use my hands – just a wooden spoon and plenty of elbow grease – it’s a really sticky dough.

Mix it until it’s all clinging together and not just sticking to the sides of the bowl. But don’t agonise too much – 5 minutes ‘by hand’ with a wooden spoon or 2 minutes in the Mixer sounds great. Tip it out onto a floured surface and shape into a rough ball – clean your bowl thoroughly – oil the clean bowl with olive oil and pop the dough back in. Cover with a towel and put in a warm, draught-free place.

TURN YOUR OVEN ONTO 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.


When the dough has doubled – punch it down (just think of all the things that are making you cross and lay into it a bit) and let it rise again until doubled. Then turn it out onto a floury surface and cut into three (or you can do what Amy does. Keep the dough bowl in the fridge and just cut off what you want each time you need bread! The dough will improve with age and your bread will be slightly different each time!)

Sprinkle two good sized oven trays with polenta or flour and pop your just-cut freeform loaves onto them. Sprinkle the tops with flour for good luck and good looks. Bake in a HOT oven for 20 to 30 minutes – checking towards the end. If they are ready they will be golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. I often take them off their trays for the last 5 minutes for extra good crust action!
  • Anonymous
    August 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM


  • Anonymous
    April 7, 2009 at 1:34 AM

    How long does it take for the dough to rise?

  • laurend11
    April 3, 2009 at 2:13 AM

    This is a late thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe and everything else! >> have recently found and regularly enjoying all your work here.

  • becclebee
    March 23, 2009 at 1:34 AM

    I found your recipe on friday, and decided to give it a crack over the weekend. i’ve been making bread for a while, but this was the best bread i have made so far, by a long shot! hot out of the oven, with butter and home-made sour cherry jam, so so good.

    thanks so much for sharing how you make bread, its how i make bread now too!

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