Artisan baking part 4: tin loaves

January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Just remembered that I still haven’t documented everything I learned at my 4 day bread baking course held at the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire last October. I’ve already posted about wild yeasts, rye sourdough and white sourdough.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now it’s the turn of perhaps the simplest loaves to make – tin loaves made with ordinary yeast (rather than a wild yeast sourdough starter).

Day 1 of the course started with baking 3 types of tin loaf – a white, wholemeal and a malthouse. Course teacher Emmanuel Hadjiandreou introduced us to the basic techniques – the ten second knead, proving, shaping and baking at a good high temperature with the aid of steam to just the right degree of doneness. You can see these demonstrated on a short video clip here:

Emmanuel’s take on breadmaking is a delightfully lazy yet extremely effective one – it lets time and the yeast do the work for you. The flour, yeast and salt are combined then rested for 10 minutes. The dough is kneaded for 10 seconds then rested for 10 minutes. This step is repeated 4 times so that, if you are efficient, the dough has only 40 seconds’ kneading in total!

Emmanuel’s recipes for white, wholemeal and granary loaves are given below, as provided by on the course with the tiniest of wording changes – I haven’t meddled with the quantities at all -wouldn’t dare!

Scanning the list of ingredients you’ll see that there is just flour, salt, yeast and water in these recipes – no lard, oil, sugar etc – bread made just from the basic raw materials. What I immediately noticed was the small quantities of yeast used. The proportions in all 3 recipes are, for whatever quantity of flour is used, 1% of its weight in fresh yeast, 2% in salt. This is the so called Bakers’ Percent system so you can feel like a real pro doing it this way.

Emmanuel’s proportions really do work and the resulting loaves are well risen with a good flavour, especially if proved overnight, and avoid the overly yeasty taste which is a common fault of home breadmaking.

We worked with fresh yeast on the course – an enormous block of the stuff. You can buy it at any kind of bakery, even supermarket instore ones. In a loosely tied plastic bag in the fridge it will keep for 2 maybe even 3 weeks.

Unlike the hurly burly and controlled chaos of ordinary life at home, we worked in a quasi laboratory style environment on the course with all the ingredients for our 3 tin loaves (white, wholemeal and malthouse) weighed out to 1g accuracy before we started:

We made the dough for each of the loaves in succession, first wholemeal, then granary and finally white. Here’s the white dough after its 4 kneads about to undergo its 1 hour resting and proving period:

We stored our proving doughs, neatly covered with plastic bowls (a trick I’ve replicated at home using transparent plastic picnic plates atop my mixing bowls – saves on clingfilm) on handy shelves underneath the work surfaces:

One hour later, the white dough looked like this:

All that remains is to shape the dough (see video clip above). With first the palm then the fingertips it’s patted then rolled before being placed seam side down in the tin.

We were given the option of adding seeds to our crust – simply sprinkle lightly the top surface of the dough with water and, cradling the loaf your hand, gently press and roll the top surface onto your chosen seeds – sesame, poppy or whatever – which you have spread out on a flat plate or tray.

The loaf is then proved, again with the tin covered by a plastic bowl, until nearly doubled in size. If you’re not ready to bake, the proving can be retarded by refrigerating the loaves overnight. Then you can have freshly baked bread for breakfast. We tasted bread that had been proved overnight and compared it to bread with a normal 1-2 hour proving. The overnight proved bread had a slightly more intense flavour – hard to describe exactly what the difference is – a subtle yet perceptible difference, a fuller flavour.

Judging whether a loaf is fully proved and being able to accelerate or retard the process using a warm place or fridge respectively is one of the hardest bits of baking knowhow to acquire. It’s something you learn by experience. In the following picture, the wholemeal loaf is clearly ready to bake whereas the granary one needs another 20 minutes or so:

These are a couple of loaves that went a bit wrong. They door of the fridge in which they were supposedly proving slowly overnight was accidentally left open. The fermentation went over the top and after a spectacular rise, the dough collapsed and flattened. In the interests of research we baked and ate the errant loaves – they still tasted fine but didn’t quite look as they should and the crumb size was uneven.

What a lot I seem to have written about loaves that are a quick and easy to make. I’ve hardly been encouraging have I? Just one final point to get across.

I’ve already written in previous artisan baking posts about the importance of a really hot oven and creating steam – just do what the recipe below says. My final point is that before the loaves go into the hot oven, you can slash them with a sharp knife. This looks attractive and helps the loaf rise evenly when baked but it’s not essential for a tin loaf (unlike the freeform rustic breads which need slashing in order to avoid bursting). The white loaf shown in the picture at the top of this post is both seeded and slashed so you can see the combined effect.

Here’s how the end results should look, first the white and then the malthouse.

Happy baking!

Recipe for white bread


300g strong white flour
6g salt
3g fresh yeast (2g dried)
200g water at room temperature

1. In a small mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.

2. Add the flour and salt to the larger bowl containing the yeast and water. Mix using a wooden spoon and/or your hands until the mixture becomes a dough.

3. Cover the dough with either another bowl, a plate or cling film to prevent it drying out and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

4. Knead the dough in the bowl for 10 seconds (see video clip above), form into a ball, cover as before and leave for 10 minutes.

5. Repeat step 4. a further 3 times – the dough will have been kneaded 4 times. Cover and leave for 1 hour.

6. Punch the dough down, shape into a loaf (see video clip above) and place in an oiled 1lb loaf tin.

7. Cover the tin with an upturned mixing bowl to prevent a skin forming and and let the loaf rise until slightly less than double in volume. This is likely to take about 45 minutes.

8. When the dough is almost fully proved, preheat the oven to 250 degrees C placing a deep baking tray on the base of the oven.

9. Place the loaf in the oven at 250 degrees C, throw a cup of cold water into the hot tray to produce steam, close the oven door quickly and reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees C.

10. Bake for approx 35 minutes until golden brown and sounding hollow when the loaf is turned out and tapped (refer video clip above). Turn out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Recipe for wholemeal bread


300g strong wholemeal flour
6g salt
3g fresh yeast (2g dried)
230g water at room temperature

Method as for white loaf above.

Recipe for malthouse bread


300g malthouse flour
6g salt
3g fresh yeast (2g dried)
200g water at room temperature

Method as for white loaf above.

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