Artisan* breads

*Artisan : a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand. (of food or drink) made in a traditional or non-mechanized way using high-quality ingredients.

We each choose and make one of these breads. In addition we will make a batch of breadsticks together. The whey boule is only baked in class occasionally because the whey is available only as a special favour from the supplier.

Harvest loaf with poolish A little rye, wheat germ, bran and wholemeal make this bread slightly darker.

White cob with biga A great, slightly fuller taste than white made with poolish

White cob with poolish As with all these breads this has a crunchy crust open texture and good flavour.

Whey boule with poolish Has a lovely soft cheese flavour, brilliant with a bit of Anster cheese .

Wholemeal loaf with biga. Very succulent but still with a good crust.

Walnut bread (my wife's favourite) with biga This has a splendid taste, just on its own.

bread sticks with olives, herbs and pecorino Made using an overnight poolish.

on the way we will


Overnight fermentation

An overnight fermentation is a simple mixture of bread flour, water and a small amount of yeast which takes only a couple of minutes to prepare. The consistency of the mixture is softer ie wetter than the final dough which gives the yeast a good medium to multiply in. This prolonged fermentation develops more flavours in the mixture enhancing the taste of the final bread and also makes the bread easier to digest. Pre-ferments can be used in making almost all breads.
We will use two types of pre-ferment

At the end of the class we will compare the appearance and flavours of our breads.

Fold or knead?

If we use the right size of casserole for our quantity of dough the sides of the pot will constrain the dough as it rises during firing. The only way is up! This means that we can use quite moist doughs without worrying about the bread dough spreading sideways. This in turn means we can use folding to develop the gluten rather than the normal heel of the hand kneading. The moisture and the gentler folding will result in a more aerated crumb ie bigger holes in the body of the loaf. The bubbling mixture in the column on the right is a lively wet dough just ready for dividing and shaping before going into a proving basket/bowl.

Why use a casserole?

The technique of firing dough in a lidded pot, either ceramic or cast iron, is universal and can be used to bake many other breads. The benefit is that:

The casseroles we use are cast iron, 18cms wide and around 15cms high (without lid) and hold 2.9 litres (from Procook or maybe TKMaxx)


happy chappy
lively wet dough
with-butter small casserole with its loaf