Food

How to make the best bread ever

I know that this post is pretty off topic compared to my regular articles about photography, social media and technology. But a lot of people have asked me about this bread and this is where I share my information. And: for my regular readers I have even managed to put in a nice timelapse in the video showing how the bread is made. :-)

Last year I was attending a lecture on molecular gastronomy. Among other interesting methods Martin Lersch mentioned a bread that didn’t need kneading. For some kind of reason I never tried it but when my friend Jan Omdahl mentioned the same method and told me that it was fantastic I had to try. Because that guy knows what he’s talking about.

So, I found the recipe and the details. And even the video where Jim Lahey shows how to make fantastic bread. And the good news is that this bread is extremely easy to make. (You find the Norwegian version of the recipe and description here.)

So I made this bread a couple of times and it tastes wonderful. But the method had one step that involved huge amounts of flour on the table and a bit of work. I wanted to make it even easier so that I could make this bread every day. I’ve removed the part where Jim Lahey flips the dough on the table and lets it rest in a towel. The main point here is to stretch the dough and the gluten. I figured that it was possible to stretch the dough in the bowl where I had it in the first place. It’s probably not as effective, but after testing both the original and my own new even easier method on the same recipe I figured it was more than good enough. And it was less hassle and less cleaning.

So this is the recipe I’ve ended up with:

10 oz wheat flour
3,5 oz wholemeal
1/4 ts yeast
1 1/2 ts salt
10 oz water

Depending on your location you might want this one:
300 g wheat flour
100 g wholemeal
1/4 ts yeast
1 1/2 ts salt
300 g water

Combine the flour, yeast and salt. Mix in a bowl. Add water and blend it all together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 12-20 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and stretch the dough in the bowl. Cover with a cloth and wait for two more hours. After one and a half hour you warm an iron pot in your owen at 230 degrees celcius (450 fahrenheit). So, when the iron pot has been in the owen for half an hour you’re ready to bake. Throw some flour on top of the dough in the bowl and flip it into the flaming warm pot. Bake in owen with the lid on for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for 15 minutes more.

But, I figured that the easiest way to show people how it was done was to push record on my video camera while making one of those breads. And of course I had to find some creative commons licensed smooth jazz to give that proper food program feeling…

Link to the video on YouTube.

Other types of flour

I’ve experimented with all kinds of flour. From 100% wheat and down to 100 g wheat + 300 g whole meal / wheat bran etc.

Double the amount

No problem. I’ve made a double version of this recipe. I added some minutes to the baking. 10 extra minutes with the lid on and about 10 extra minutes with the lid off. Giving about 40 minutes with the lid on and 25 minutes with the lid off.

Steam oven

If you’re the lucky owner of a steam oven you can use that to bake the bread. In the steam oven you don’t need to use a hot pot or lid. Bake in a regular bread pan.

Set the oven to 230 degrees Celsius and 30% humidity. Immediately after you have placed the bread in the oven you give it three rounds of steam to fill the oven with humidity. Bake for 16 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 165 degrees and the humidity to 0%. And bake for 40 more minutes. The steam and humidity gives the bread the same crispness that the method with the hot pot and lid.

And here’s the video that shows the secrets of the steam oven.