Oven Baked Bread Making

These are the class notes for the bread making class I will be running/have run at Festival 2013.  The bread making class is/was intended to support the operation of the community bakery set up adjacent to the Abbotsford campsite.

How will the community bakery work?

  • Members of the community bakery are encouraged to make bread regularly prior to Festival.
  • The oven will be built on Wednesday 27 March and the bakery will be set up on Thursday 28 March.
  • Members (signed up before Festival) will make their own bread and include a distinguishing mark so they take their own bread home when it’s cooked.
  • Members will participate in a roster that includes the making of the oven, provision of firewood and firing of the oven twice a day.

Bread Making Routine

I make bread almost every day.  This is the routine I have developed so that I can do it with as little effort as possible:

About 12-24 hours before I want a loaf of bread:

  1. Make bread from previous day’s sponge and put to rise
  2. Make sponge for tomorrow
  3. If I’m using sourdough: replenish starter for tomorrow’s sponge

2-12 hours later: Put loaf in oven for 30-60min depending on size of loaf.

Recipes/instructions

Flour

Buy breadmaking flour.  It has a higher protein content than “normal” cake making flour and you need this to make the dough strong enough to stick together.  You will have to make sure you read the packet carefully to avoid breadmix, which is breadmaking flour with other additives. In a typical supermarket you will find one type of  breadmaking flour and 10 type of breadmix.  Artisan bakeries will often sell breadmaking flour and you can get wholemeal and spelt flours there too.

I’m about to start experimenting with Atta flour from an indian grocery.  I understand it’s a wholegrain wheat flour and more like period wholemeal flours than what we can normally buy.

I usually make wholemeal or spelt bread, mixing these flours 50:50 with white flour.

Note:  these quantities are sufficient for a sandwich tin loaf.  When cooked in the oven at Festival, it will probably make two cottage sized loaves.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread uses a starter instead of yeast.  You can get a starter from me at Festival, or you can start your own, or you can buy one online.  There are lots of recipes online for making starter, here’s one on a site that’s got lots of other good stuff too.  I tend to keep enough starter for one or two loaves in a glass jar on the kitchen bench.  Each time I use it it’s replenished with one cup of flour and 3/4 cup water.

Pour almost all the  starter into a non-metal bowl and add a cup of flour and a cup of water (milk also gives a good flavour).  Don’t scrape the starter out of the container, just replenish and mix the old and new starter.  You’ll effectively have 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of liquid in your bowl.  Leave it for 12-24 hours or so.  36 hours is probably too long. This is the sponge.

Add 2 cups of flour and knead it all together.  Add up to 1 cup more flour if you need to to stop it being too sticky.  When it’s almost right, add about a teaspoon of salt and knead it some more.  Then form it into the loaf shape you want and put it somewhere it won’t dry out until it’s about twice the size.

How long it needs to rise will depend on the local temperature and the strength of your starter.  I aim to have my bread rise in about 12 hours, so I can cook it first thing in the morning while I eat my breakfast.  When it’s cold I turn on my gas oven for 30 seconds and put it in the oven with the light on and it rises overnight (about 10-12 hours).  When it’s warmer I leave it out.

Get your oven as hot as you can and cook for 15 min.  Turn the oven down to about 200 degreesC, and take it out about 30min later (total cooking time about 45min).  check it’s ready by tapping the centre and the outsides and comparing the “knocking” sound.  If they’re the same and it sounds hollow it’s ready.  If you’re not sure you can turn off the oven and leave it for another 10min.  Cool the bread before you cut it, or you will get an awful mess.

“Sweet” bread

I’ve had a problem with my sourdough starter that’s made my bread very acidic and there has been a revolt in my family so lately I’ve been making bread with commercial yeast.  Here’s how I do it so it takes about 10min a day plus cooking time.

Mix 2 cups flour with 2 cups of water (or milk), a teaspoon (or sachet) of commercial yeast and a teaspoon of brown sugar.  Mix and leave it covered on the bench for 2-24 hours.  This stage is called a “sponge”

Add 2 cups of flour and knead it all together.  Add up to 1 cup more flour if you need to to stop it being too sticky.  When it’s almost right, add about a teaspoon of salt and knead it some more.  Then form it into the loaf shape you want and put it somewhere it won’t dry out until it’s about twice the size.

If I leave it on the bench this can take as little as an hour or two.  If I’ve made it in the evening, I often put it in the fridge overnight and it takes a little longer to cook in the morning.

Get your oven as hot as you can and cook for 15 min.  Turn the oven down to about 200 degreesC, and take it out about 30min later (total cooking time about 45min).  check it’s ready by tapping the centre and the outsides and comparing the “knocking” sound.  If they’re the same and it sounds hollow it’s ready.  If you’re not sure you can turn off the oven and leave it for another 10min.  Cool the bread before you cut it, or you will get an awful mess.

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