Your cart

Your cart is empty

Great Bread - The Big Six

Great Bread - The Big Six

You know how I love my lists, right? Well, this particular list came to mind when I chanced across this picture, taken way back by Bristol photographer Nick Hand, on a sunny day in West Wales with the Do Lectures crew.  Nick captured my dough in motion, as I pummeled life into water, flour & yeast.  And it got me to thinking, what’s the secret to making great bread? Not good bread, but great bread, and I guess I’d sum it up as thus:

  1. Get your hydration as high as you can – the higher the water content, the lighter the loaf. Think of an airy ciabatta, rucked with air pockets and light in your hand – ciabatta dough has one of the highest hydrated bread dough, coming in at a sticky 80%.  To work out the hydration of any bread recipe, simply divide the water weight by flour weight and multiply by 100.
  2. Allow time for autolyse. In other words, for the gluten to develop of its own accord, once you've brought together just the flour and water into a rough dough. Cover the bowl and step back. Put the kettle on. Catch up on Tik Tok. Or like me, figure out how it works. You’ve a window of between 20-60 minutes to leave the dough to rest and develop. Why not hammer right in to kneading? Because allowing time for autolyse will make the kneading process so much quicker as most of the work will be done for you. When you’re ready to knead, add the yeast and the salt and bingo – your dough will develop in minutes.
  3. Bake in a lidded cast iron or terracotta pot. When you’re ready to bake, whilst the oven is cold, place your pot in the oven. Switch the oven on so both the pot and the oven heat up together. The magic? Your loaf will bake in its own steam, mimicking the action of a professional, steam injected baker’s oven.
  4. Use the best flour you can find.
  5. Always take your bake a little longer than you think – the caramelised crust, just the right side of burnt will take your flavour next level.
  6. The tough bit – allow your loaf to completely cool before diving in. Yeah, right. Honestly though, you can thank me later.

My current favourite loaf recipe right now is from Thermomix. This recipe has a hefty hydration level of 76%. You can make this manually or, as I prefer to these days, let Thermomix take the strain, allow a consistent temperature prove and keeps your hands clean.


My Favourite Loaf Right Now - from Thermomix

550g water

720g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting

1 sachet 7g instant yeast or 10g fresh yeast

10g salt


Combine flour and water together in a bowl into a rough dough. Cover and leave to autolyse 20-60 minutes, depending on your schedule.

Add salt and yeast and knead to combine, until dough is smooth and stretchy. If kneading manually, use a wet hand to avoid getting sticky. If using a stand mixer, allow for up to six minutes on medium speed. And if using your Thermomix, this is the one.

Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and allow to bulk prove for up to two hours, until the dough has doubled in size.

Towards the end of this time, preheat your oven and lidded pot to 250c

When the dough is ready and your oven is hot, flour your work surface and tip out the dough. Gently coax it into a boule, and transfer it into your hot, lidded pot. Clamp on the lid and bake for up to 45-50 minutes.

Allow to cool.

Previous post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published