Timing Issues

White Bread 2 - side shot

The weather has played havoc with my timings. Things that used to reliably take an hour are taking half that time and I’m having to watch my loaves like a hawk. This time I was caught out by an over enthusiastic white tin loaf.

I make this pretty much every week and it usually takes about an hour for each stage but not this time. Once it had been shaped and popped into its tin it seemed to speed up. When I tested it after about 20 mins it was already springing back slowly – a sign that it was ready to go in the oven. But the oven wasn’t even on yet, let alone hot enough for bread. Pretty much all my recipes say you should get the oven up to temperature before the bread goes in but this wasn’t going to be possible. The best I could do was put the oven on for about 10 minutes before putting the bread in.

The oven was barely 100C when the bread went in. It wasn’t even hot enough to create steam when boiling water was added to the roasting tray (which obviously hadn’t preheated enough). I feared a bread disaster was on the way….

But look at it. It’s the best oven spring I’ve had from a tin loaf. It took about 10-15 min longer but somehow that lower starting temperate has given the bread more of a boost than it usually has.

It may be a one off but I’ll try this approach again and let you know. I’ve heard of people putting sourdough into a cold oven to proof and bake in one step but not conventional bread. Maybe it wasn’t as far gone as I feared and it just finished the process in the oven so possibly slightly under-proofing and a lower initial temperature gives better results. Let me know if you’ve had a similar experience.

White bread v2  - top


Soft Slider Buns

Soft slider buns

Another bun recipe and with it my Dan Lepard “bread roll trilogy” comes to an end. After the soft floury baps and the semolina buns I am now on the soft slider rolls that I planned to bake a few weeks ago until thwarted by the lack of custard powder.

The process starts with an unsweetened custard made with the custard power and milk with only 2 tsp of sugar. This is then left to cool and mixed with the flour, salt and yeast. The custard roux was straight forward enough but it did end up a very scary yellow. It also seemed very thick (I suspect that there is a reason my custard is usually of the ready mixed variety). Tasting it was a bit strange – you expect it to be sweet and absence of this meant it tasted like cornflour rather than custard. In his recipe Dan Lepard does say you can substitute this for the custard powder and after tasting it I can see why.

custard roux

Adding the flour to it made for a very dry dough and it was hard work to knead. It is supposed to be a firm dough so I stuck with it and resisted the temptation to add any extra water. I then left it to rise and shaped into 5 decent sized buns.

After proving they got a coat of milk and I scattered white sesame seeds on the top. The final buns were nice but compared with the other bun recipes, I felt they were too dry and firm. I preferred the texture of the semolina buns to these. The original recipe is for smaller buns and maybe they work better in this form. I think that larger buns need to be softer so I probably won’t do this one again. I just need to make a lot of rhubarb crumble to use up that custard powder…

Soft slider buns

A Perfect Spelt Loaf

Spelt loaf 3

Spelt is one of the oldest grains. It’s been used in Britain since before the Romans landed on these shores but fell out of fashion and was replaced by wheat. It’s lower in gluten than wheat and supposedly helps to protect against bowel cancer. All of which makes it sound like its going to produce a loaf like a brick, hence whilst I’ve used both white and wholemeal spelt in loaves, I’ve shyed away from just using spelt. Then I came across this during one of my Waitrose outings.

Spelt flour

Sharpham Park specialise in spelt flour. As well as white and wholemeal they also do a 60:40 mix they call Baker’s Blend. It sounded appealing and the recipe on the back of the pack looked straightforward enough so I decided to give it a go. However I didn’t follow the method as, according to Paul Hollywood, spelt is prone to spread and so I decided that a loaf tin was the best way.

I mixed 500g of the Baker’s Blend with 1 tsp salt,1 tsp easy blend yeast, 2tblsp olive oil and 300g warm water. As its lower in gluten I decided to mix it into a rough dough and leave it covered for 15 minutes before kneading.

I then gave it a quick 10 second knead on an oiled work surface before leaving it another 10 minutes. I repeated this twice more before adding a touch more water on the second knead as it seemed a bit too dry (I just dipped my hand in water so it was damp before kneading the dough).

lt was then given a light coat of olive oil and left covered for about an hour in black bin bag.

By this time it had risen quite a bit. I floured the work surface and turned it out, padding it into a small rectangle. This time I decided to devote a bit more time into shaping it rather than just plonking it in the tin. I didn’t take photos of the process but if you have the River Cottage Bread Handbook it’s essentially the stubby cylinder in there.

Spelt - pre prove

After another hour it looked like this. As you can see it had risen a lot and was very “bread” shaped! I clearly need to shape it properly in future.

Spelt loaf - post prove

I preheated the oven to 220C with a roasting tin in the bottom. When the loaf was ready I gave it a decent topping of flour and slashed it before putting it in the oven before quickly pouring boiling water into the roasting tray.

It was then baked for about 30 minutes to produce this.

Spelt loaf 2

This is probably the prettiest loaf I have ever baked! All it needs is Hovis imprinted on the side. I am completely in awe of the amount of oven spring it got, the way it kept its shape, the colour… Seriously I didn’t even want to cut into it, it was so pretty.

But cut into it I did. It had a good crunchy top crust and a sandwich worthy crumb.

Spelt loaf - sliced

Tastewise it’s difficult to describe. It’s not wheat – it tastes “softer” than that, but it’s not so different that it’s hugely noticeable. In fact LSH has been eating it for the last couple of days and hasn’t noticed that he’s been eating a “health food” (well not til he reads this anyway!) I would definitely make this again – my only worry is that on the website it is listed as sold out. Hopefully I’ll still be able to get this from my supermarket. I may have a go at making my own “Monday Baker’s Blend” and see if I can replicate it.

Burger Buns and Bacon Sarnies

Floury baps

I fear that my blog is starting to sound like a one woman fan page devoted to Dan Lepard. Today was a special day in themondaybaker household as LSH is celebrating a “big” birthday with a “big” party. So I’ve been busy all morning with party prep as well as making some buns for pre-party burgers and morning-after bacon sarnies.

The first recipe I looked at were the soft slider buns which looked good but needed custard powder so they were out ( I didn’t think my carton of low fat custard was going to be able replace this somehow….) So that left me with the soft floury baps which could be made with everything I had in my cupboards. I just needed to work the timings around my various errands that I needed to run.

Sponge  - before

First the sponge. This needed a sachet of easy blend yeast. I don’t use sachets and I’ve previously used a teaspoon of easy blend yeast instead. But then I saw that a sachet supposedly equals 2 1/2 tsp of yeast! So this time round I weighed it and it was significantly more than I thought. So I mixed the sponge ingredients and left it. The recipe says to leave it for 2 1/2 – 3 hours so I headed off to collect the cake.

By the time I made it back it had been left for 2 hours and looked like this! Definitely somewhat lively….

Sponge -

Then I added the rest of the flour and the water, milk and butter mix. The resting time ended up being curtailed as I needed to go and get balloons and other things. But it still left a bit of a problem as I didn’t think I’d be able to get everything and get back in the hours proving time. A plan B was needed – LSH was going to have to bake them without supervision….

Dough - pre shaping

So I carefully shaped them into buns and sprinkled over the flour ready for proving.

Floury baps - pre proving

I set the timer for an hour and wrote down the instructions (Turn oven on to 200C after 30 mins. When timer goes off put buns in oven. Bake for 20 min remembering to turn them mid way through cooking). I then kept sending “helpful” texts (“are buns in oven?”, “have you turned them?”, “have you taken buns out of oven?” It was a bit like baking by phone – if only there was an app). And these were the result.

Floury baps

Very squidgy and really soft. Ideal for burgers and bacon. I now have a stash in the freezer and I doubt that they’ll be in there long.

Floury bap - crumb

So here is the pre-party burger version: burger

And the morning after one….

Bacon sarnie 2

Saturday Night Sandwich (and Monday night pizza)

Pulled pork sandwich
I’ve developed a bit of a pulled pork obsession recently. In my mind was a generous pile of shredded porkiness, sandwiched within a homemade bread roll and covered in a tasty barbecue sauce. So it was just a case of tracking down the right recipes. And this is what I came up with…..

Firstly the pork – The Guardian had a “perfect” pulled pork recipe which looked to be a good option. I rubbed a shoulder of pork with a mix of salt, smoked paprika, sugar and a bit of Old Bay seasoning. I then roasted it at a high temperature for about 30 mins before adding some liquid smoke (a new one on me but thankfully Amazon came up with the goods – any suggestions on what else to use hickory liquid smoke for will be gratefully received!). I then turned it down and left it for about 7 hours until it fell apart.

Pulled pork

Then it was the bun. Zeb Bakes recently had a flavoured loaf using Dan Lepard’s semolina bun recipe which looked like it would hit the mark.

Semolina buns

This was pretty straightforward to make and the addition of wet semolina had an interesting effect on the texture, giving it a chewy open crumb.

So many thanks to Zeb Bakes for the idea of using this. It will definitely be baked again!

Finally there was the sauce and again I have a fellow blogger to thank for this one. Main St. Cuisine had this fantiastic looking recipe for orange scented BBQ sauce and after making it I can heartily recommend it. LSH has already said that it’s one of his favourites….

The pulled pork has done well over three days. A bit salty on the first day (the recipe says to leave it for 24hrs before using- which obviously I didn’t). The next day we had the sandwiches again when out walking and they tasted much better.

The final portion was made into pizza with peppers, red onion and lots of garlic butter. A fitting end to a very tasty joint of meat.

Tiger Bread (sort of…..)

Tiger Bread

Today we have another bread from the Love Baking Bread magazine. I’d meant to do this one first but I didn’t have any rice flour. On a trip to London I made a detour to a branch of Waitrose and finally managed to get some.

Depending on which supermarket you use this is known as either tiger or giraffe bread. Essentially it’s a white loaf with a crackle glaze over it. This effect is caused by brushing the loaf with a rice flour and yeast paste during the proving process. I think what happens is that whilst the dough expands and stretches, the rice paste doesn’t expand as much and instead shatters creating an animal print effect. Well that’s the theory….

Mine didn’t quite work out that way. The recipe is from The Bread Revolution by the people behind the Thoughtful Bread Company so I had high hopes. The white bread dough itself used less water then I’m used to, but it was the rice flour paste that was the strangest.

For starters the recipe made a lot of paste – it seemed like far too much for one loaf of bread and I ended up throwing a lot out. And it was very thick. The recipe describes it as being the consistency of wallpaper paste. I’m not a wallpaper paste expert (I leave that to Long Suffering Husband…) but this seemed much thicker than that – more dough than paste. So I added more water to try and thin it a bit.

Tiger Bread - with paste

I shaped the loaf, gave it a good coating of the paste and left to prove before baking.

Tiger Bread

The final result was not what I expected. It’s more of a scorched earth effect than tiger bread, with a very dark crust and jagged fissures across the surface. That’s not to say its unattractive – it is quite striking with its dramatic gashes. But it’s not the crackle pattern of tiger bread. More a dark brooding older cousin version.

Taste wise it was just like a normal white bread. I can’t say I got any interesting taste from the crust either which made me wonder if I’d been too stingy with the topping. I suspect that the consistency of the paste was the issue. Clearly I need to pay closer attention to wallpapering in future…

Baguette Torment


I love baguettes. I love their crunch, their colour, their texture. Pretty much everything really. I think that they are the ideal bread for a light lunch on a Saturday with a tasty slab of pâté or cheese.

But baking the things is proving to be more problematic. They are proving to be my baking nemesis. They seem really straightforward – a white bread dough just shaped differently. How hard can that be…?

“Very” in my case. My first goes didn’t rise at all – probably because I followed some advice that you could add dried yeast straight to flour in the same way you can easy blend. This may work in a hot bakery but not in my kitchen where the yeast granules just remained resolutely undissolved, studded throughout the dough like seeds. As a result the bread itself didn’t rise at all. Poor Long Suffering Husband still had a go at eating it though…

So I switched back to easy blend. Now it rose but I had a different issue. I was proving and baking on a silicon baguette tray but whilst I got a good shape only the top of the bread would colour as if the tray were blocking the heat somehow.

I tried taking them out of the tray and putting them onto a metal one part way through. Whilst this gave me colour and crispness, the bread had stuck through the holes and it tore as I tried to remove them.

This is my latest effort. (I’m currently using Richard Bertinet’s recipe in Dough.)

Still not great but the potential is there.


You can tell from this shot there’s quite a bit of oven spring but the bread is tearing at the side and expanding that way rather than through the slashes. I think that this is partly a result of it adhering itself quite so firmly to the tray.


The insides look good but I need to sort the shaping. As you can see its incurred quite a bit of damage as a result of my attempts to get it out of the tray. I think a linen proofing cloth is called for for my next attempt.