Thursday 8 March 2012


I made bread last weekend.

I've been saying I would over and over and over again and, on Saturday, I finally did it. I poured flour into a bowl, added salt, yeast and water. I used my fingertips, gradually bringing it together in the bowl. Then I covered it with a cloth, walked away, left it for seven hours. Later I heated a baking sheet, sprinkled it with flour, and poured the dough on.

This is not a neat round ball of dough. It's wet, so wet you think it can't possibly work, rising in the bowl, forming doughy strands that stick to the side of the bowl, strands that stretch as you tip the bowl onto its side, as you try to get the dough to relinquish its hold all the while imagining, wrongly, how horrific it will be to wash up the bowl that this dough has been clinging to with all its might. With a little help from a knife it eventually flops into place on the sheet and goes into the oven to bake.

This isn't a loaf to slice and eat warm, I left it to cool overnight, sliced into it on Sunday morning.

It's a craggy loaf, squat with a good crust.

It turns out that squat with a good crust works pretty well with butter and last summer's strawberry jam.

Wet Bread
From Casa Moro by Sam & Sam Clark

This dough is wet enough to make, knead and prove in one large bowl. Think of it as whisking water (with your fingertips) into flour to make a very thick batter.

Makes 1 x 1kg loaf

600g unbleached strong white bread flour
1 heaped teaspoon fine sea salt
1 level teaspoon dried yeast, dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
450ml warm water
semolina flour, for dusting (I used plain flour)

Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour the yeast on to the flour at one side of the bowl where you intend to start working in the water. Add a little water, incorporate a bit of the flour with your fingers until smooth, add more water, mix in, incorporate more flour and knead in. As the dough increases in size, larger amounts of both flour and water can be added. use a beating action with your fingertips, breaking up the lumps that appear; this also kneads the dough at the same time. When all the water is mixed in, beat for a further minute with your fingertips. Cover the bowl with a cloth or oiled clingfilm and leave the dough to rise in a warm place at roughly 20°C/68°F for 4-6 hours.

About 20 minutes before you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Place a large baking sheet or roasting tray (approx 30 x 30cm) on the middle shelf. When hot, sprinkle a liberal handful or two of semolina flour over the tray to prevent the bread sticking. Now gently pour the dough on to the tray and dust the top surface with a little more semolina. Return to the oven, and after 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and bake for a further half-hour.

Lift the bread off the tray, loosening it with a large knife if stuck, then place directly on the middle rack, right side up. Bake for another 15 minutes to crisp up the base. Now turn off the heat and leave the oven door open for the bread to cool completely. Don't be tempted to slice the loaf while it is still hot or it will become stodgy.