Quarantine Bread

Bread is a good quarantine recipe. The ingredients are cheaper1, denser and have a longer shelf-life than the final product, and the process of turning one into the other requires much more time than effort.

This recipe will take 16 hours of waiting, and about 15 mins of activity2. It has four ingredients, requires nothing fancier than a dutch oven, and is surprisingly hard to mess up. Below are the first3 and tenth loaves I've ever baked, both with this recipe:

my bread

The first was good; the tenth was great. Don't ask me what changed other than 'practice'; I didn't keep good enough notes.

EDIT: A few weeks later, I realise I caught a wave of quarantine-sourdough-making here. I'm not sure if I did in fact like it before it was cool. I'm still baking this recipe daily, but I've been repeatedly pointed to a much simpler alternative for anyone who wants something really robust.

Ingredients

Equipment

Schedule

There are many steps, but they are all very short. If you mess something up, don't worry, just carry on with the recipe. It'll probably be fine.

The Night Before

The Morning Of

The OVEN GLOVES are emphasised because you will accidentally reach for something screaming hot, and even glancing contact with 250C metal makes for a bad burn.

Notes

The recipe is a 500g version of Ken Forkish's Overnight White Loaf. His book has details, explanations, and a load more recipes.

There are many bread recipes on the internet, and many variations of this particular recipe8. If you've not baked bread before, try not to get paralysed choosing between recipes or choosing between equipment. Use what you have, pick a recipe - any recipe - and just try it out. The uplift in quality you'll get from a trial run is much greater than the uplift from having picked the exact right recipe.

If you are the kind of person who really likes to do their research first though, the places to start are Forkish's book and /r/breadit.

I wrote this recipe out despite there being a thousand other equivalent recipes out there because I was annoyed by the the amount of cruft folded into most recipe descriptions. A bullet-pointed schedule, on a minimalist website, with links to technique videos, well, I felt it'd appeal to people who wouldn't usually bake.


  1. If you fancy living 13th-century style, 2000kcal of home-made bread is 35p of flour, salt and yeast.

  2. Maybe not 15 mins your first time round.

  3. And that was a few weeks ago.

  4. A third of a quarter-teaspoon. It's too small to measure with a normal gram-accurate scale.

  5. 34C if you've got a a thermometer, but a few degrees of drift won't change much. Main limit is 40C, beyond which the yeast will die.

  6. Honestly any oven-safe metal or ceramic dish with a lid will do.

  7. Ideally 15cm-ish across. It doesn't matter much.

  8. HackerNews has some suggestions.

2020/03/18