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Quarantine Bread (andyljones.com)
209 points by andyljones 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 150 comments

You do not, repeat not have to preheat anything before putting your bread dough in the oven.

Starting with a cold dutch oven makes it much easier and safer to get the dough in. Just bake for an extra 20 minutes at the start. If in doubt, overcooking is better than undercooking for bread.

I’ve done this myself several times and it works great. Here’s the needed citation: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2017/07/05/baking-in-a-...

Also... I think the reason why most recipes call for preheating is very interesting! It’s all about reproducing the conditions used by professional bakers. A professional will use an oven that can inject steam to keep the bread from drying out; baking in a dutch oven simulates this. And a professional baker will keep the oven on through the whole working day; preheating simulates this, so you can use the same timings. But if you’re only baking one loaf every couple of days, rather than 200 loaves a day, you don’t necessarily have to do all this stuff.

To use a classic HN analogy, it’s like a startup using all the same technology and processes as Google. Some of them are a good idea (keeping steam in the oven), some of them are premature until you’re operating at a massive scale (preheating the oven).

The reason to preheat the oven is to brown it quickly without drying out the outside and overcooking inside.

The same exact reason you put steak on a hot pan, not cold. If you put it on cold pan it would be cooked through before you get any browning on the outside.

If you take too long baking bread the outside will be dried out, not crisped. Not everybody sees the difference but at least for me it is pretty significant.

Consumer ovens are pitifully underpowered for the most part and will take forever to bring oven to temperature with a large wet mass inside. Even if the oven is preheated the temperature instantly dips very significantly when you put your dough in.

The reason they do it in professional setting is because they don't have time to cool it down and then get it back up to temperature. Another reason is you want repeatable results and not depending on starting temperature.

As to the safety, as long as you are not super clumsy just general common sense is enough to prevent any burns. Don't touch the oven. Use oven mittens. Use extra long mittens if you don't feel safe. Do not operate on the dough while it is inside the oven (tray out, then do whatever you want, tray in). If you use steam to bake (which I do) make sure you understand where the steam goes so you avoid the areas where the hot 200C steam will be when you open oven door so you don't burn your face and hands (the answer: it goes up). Keep your small kids occupied somewhere else so they don't feel the need to have fun with hot oven while baking and after while it is still hot.

If you use a good quality dutch oven with a well-fitting lid, drying out isn’t an issue at all. In fact you have to take the lid off for the last 10-20 minutes to brown the crust at all.

However, getting your dough into a preheated dutch oven is fiddly and a little dangerous. That’s why I recommend just starting from cold.

When I use dutch oven or clay pot I use leavening basket and just flip the bread into it.

Hm, I'm willing to pay hundreds of dollars to buy a special pan that doesn't preheat, so I could cook the steak through first, then sear. Maybe I've been doing this wrong! Or maybe there's a Cinder Grill rep here that can get me a special deal for shilling their product :)

"The Food Lab" is also a good book, if you like diving deeper on this sort of thing.

> pay hundreds of dollars to buy a special pan that doesn't preheat, so I could cook the steak through first

You don't need hundreds, just ~$100 for an inexpensive sous vide cooker with integrated thermometer & temp regulation [0]

You can put the meet in a zip lock bag and suck the air out with a straw and have it work just fine if you want to avoid the added expense of vacuum bags. When the meat hits the desired temp, remove, unwrap, sear the outside, and voila!

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Anova-Culinary-Precision-Bluetooth-In...

Heartily recommend sous vide.

> You can put the meet in a zip lock bag and suck the air out with a straw

You can stay safer by leaving just he corner not zipped and pushing the rest of the bag slowly underwater, it'll squeeze the air out for you.

The oven has a couple benefits.

Everybody has one. Most ovens can get down to 200-275 degrees and stay fairly consistent in temperature. You can take the internal temperature of the meat while its cooking, instead of waiting a set amount of time. The meat comes out dry, which saves you having to dry it coming out of the bag before you sear.

Just do a reverse sear. It's incredible if you're doing a whole tenderloin or similar.


The Food Lab is the serious eats book.

If you really want to pay to make better bread I suggest you save your money and spend a little time researching designing bread recipes instead. I did and I can recreate almost any bread just by looking at it or by person describing what they want to get. It is not at all difficult once you learn how different processing steps and different ingredient ratios influence the result.

The best investment is to learn how to do it right. Every home that has an oven and a weighing scale has essentially everything that is needed to make artisanal breads.

Of the tools that make life easier but are in no way essential:

- pizza stone

- thermometer (to measure water temperature)

- thermometer (to measure oven temperature)

- _a_ razor

- dough knife

- dough whisk

- bread proofing basket

Would you be so kind as to share a few resources?

Thank you

Also wanted to say that The Food Lab by Kenji Lopez-Alt is great.

By not preheating the oven you will generally end up with a denser, smaller loaf. This isn’t a bad thing if you’re happy with the result, but the style of bread this recipe is aimed at typically is very light with a very airy crumb.

When the loaf goes into a hot oven, you get some steam generated as water boils, and the yeast gets heated quickly, giving a minute or two of high gas output before it is killed by higher temps. This all adds air to the inside of the loaf while the dough is still very soft. When cooking at a low temperature, the crust often hardens more before this process happens, limiting the amount the loaf can expand.

Nothing to imply the trade-offs explicitly worse, it’s down to if you like the result.

But it will definitely change what you get out of the oven.

Highly recommend trying it yourself and compare two loaves cooked with and without preheating to see how much it changes the result and if it makes it easier and more enjoyable for you to bake!

I preheat the dutch oven in a 475f oven, but I put the dough on a piece of parchment paper, grab the corners, and safely drop it into the blazing hot pot. As a bonus, this also makes it easy to pull out. Works great.

Another reason is that the time it takes for the Dutch oven to come to temperature depends on a lot of parameters (size of Dutch oven, size of oven, fan or not, power of oven) so pre-heating allows for the timings to be consistent.

But I agree on the safety concerns so I will try your method on my next loaf, now is not the time to get bad burn wounds.

My personal experience is that bread is sensitive enough to parameters that you’re going to have to “get to know” your equipment anyway end do some experimentation.

Yes, timings will definitely vary. I timed how long my oven took to preheat with a cold dutch oven, and it was around 20 minutes, so that’s about how long I add.

But I’ve found the timing is not super critical, the main thing is not to undercook. (Note that most recipes say things like “check for doneness, and bake for another 5 minutes if the loaf doesn’t sound hollow”.)

The steam injection ovens, invented IIRC in the early 20th century, were nearly the death of French bread, supplanted by the insipid industrial baguette.

Luckily Lionel Poilâne revived artisanal French bread in the 1970s, resulting in loaves like those pictured in the article.

I dunno, I’m not sure you can attribute either the industrialization of bread production, or the artisanal bread movement, to any one invention or person.

For example, you could tell exactly the same story about the electric mixer leading to faster bread making, leading to large-scale production of low-quality bread; and Raymond Carvel reviving artisanal French bread with his popularization of autolysis (mixing the flour and water and resting it before adding yeast).

Insipid baguette? Where do you buy them? Even supermarket bakeries make pretty good ones in Europe.

The industrial baguette (which includes those of a lot of bakeries) is pretty uninteresting, with a uniform and non-structural internal texture and a vaguely crusty exterior. Compare that to the radically different banette you can find at artisanal bakeries which unfortunately of course are hard to sustain financially outside wealthy enclaves.

Also if you didn't experience it, the food choices of the 60s, 70s, and even early 80s were pretty restricted and of poor quality in Europe, Australia and the USA (and likely elsewhere). Even in the USA where there was an explosion of products, the quality of the food was poor and largely undifferentiated. And thus with bread in France.

I was lucky that our home in Paris had several good bakeries within a few minutes' walk of our front door (including Poilâne's) but it was obvious that this was a product of economic good fortune. But when you venture out to the countryside in France or Germany the goods in shops primarily come from a truck from a faraway factory. Surprisingly this appears to me (unscientifically) to be more extreme in France than Germany

UK supermarket baguettes are a poor approximation of continental Europe's (I suppose most of my experience is of France's).

Actually, Waitrose's baguette - as opposed to its 'flute' or 'French stick' - is not bad. Not as good, but not bad. The cheaper flutes and sticks (which seem to be all that other places sell) are just.. completely different.

I've never had a baguette with a nice crispy outside that results in flakes all over the breakfast table, and a soft, fluffy, inside like those so prevalent in France though.

While I'm at it - tomatoes! Tomatoes are so much nicer in France too.

Eh, it really depends on the kind of bread your making. I think it probably works with regular yeasted breads, but you're definitely going to get less oven spring with sourdough.[1]


A cold oven works well for me with both sourdough and dried active yeast. If you have time enough and flour, do your own A/B test!

There are many ways to make bread. If you got a technique that doesn't require preheating, that's fine, it's yet another way to make a particular kind of bread.

I will not say that your bread isn't good. However, if you want great crust and oven spring using dutch oven while baking in a home oven, a preheat is a good idea and it works.

I preheat at max temp, 500F for 1 hour with the empty dutch oven inside. Here's a good recipe that I've used recently, it's beginner friendly and uses common flours (King Authur bread and whole wheat blend)... https://www.theperfectloaf.com/simple-weekday-sourdough-brea...

Have you definitely tried the same recipe (except baking time) both with and without preheating? Maybe I’m not discerning enough, and I freely admit my results aren’t amazingly consistent at the best of times, but I honestly can’t tell the difference in the results.

I was thinking for a “simple” recipe that link sure has a lot of steps. I’ve been making bread like this for a long time. There’s no need to do most of these steps.

I mix all of the ingredients together at once in the beginning. Stir and fold with hands. Will be lumpy.

Come back two or three times after about 20 minutes. No need to set a clock just wing it. You’ll know it’s ready once the dough becomes smooth.

And I don’t buy bread flour. Why keep an extra type of those? I buy AP flour and keep vital wheat gluten (available from places like Whole Foods) in the freezer. Mix in one or two tbsp depending on how you like the texture.

And as you say, no need to preheat the oven. If you’re in doubt stick a probe thermometer in. Bread is done after 190 F.

You also don't need to wait 16 hours for a leavening. Just about 2 hours with the process explained in the article may be sufficient as well.

YMMV though since, in my experience, the simplicity of it all is actually quite nuanced and delicate. Small changes in water amounts or yeast preparation can yield big differences in the end product. Curious to hear someone's thoughts on this...

Edit: This is also often called a "no knead" recipe...

Leavening for fewer hours gives a different kind of structure the the bread.

Shorter leavening: smaller bubbles, more soft texture.

Longer leavening: bigger bubbles, more chewy texture.

Longer leavening also gives it a more yeasty flavour. I think the shorter leavened bread goes well with jam and the longer leavened bread goes well with savoury toppings.

Are you referring to preheating the oven (i.e. the big box with the stove on top that gets warm) or the Dutch oven (i.e. the cast iron bowl with a lid)?

I meant both -- they can both start cold.

Although I now realize I should have clarified, I’m only talking about baking bread in a dutch oven.

I haven’t tried any other baking methods in a cold oven. I suspect it wouldn’t work well but I don’t know for sure.

For those unfamiliar with baking, the shared recipe is pretty much the standard crusty white bread recipe, and one that has a great effort/payoff ratio. One thing to note is that unlike most cooking where you can just sort of eyeball quantities and get something good, baking bread is chemistry. You really want to have an accurate kitchen scale to get the ingredient proportions correct by weight.

Edit: Though if you are looking for a recipe to start with, I would recommend the Serious Eats one with quantities cut in half: https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/08/simple-crusty-wh...

Spraying on water before closing the dutch oven really does improve the results.

baking bread is chemistry. You really want to have an accurate kitchen scale to get the ingredient proportions correct by weight.

Scales are definitely a good idea, but I don’t think the general point (“don’t mess with the recipe!”) is quite as true as people make out, at least for bread baking. You can vary the yeast, salt, fat etc a fair amount and still get decent results.

Getting the hydration level right (ratio between water and flour) is the key bit. Too dry (below about 60%, meaning 60:100 water:flour) and it won’t rise. Too wet and it’ll be difficult to work (70% and up is hard) and if you don’t work it properly it’ll be too weak and again won’t rise. The whole business of folding and resting is about working with higher hydration dough.

> and if you don’t work it properly it’ll be too weak and again won’t rise.

Yes, but no-knead recipes tend to be wetter and they come out okay.

That’s what I meant about “folding and resting” at the end there, yeah.

It does work but I find kneading just as easy and a lot faster, personally.

Dough is infinitely ... transformable. Mess with the recipe and you will get something else. It will probably still be quite edible but it won't be the loaf you signed up for.

Yes! It’s usually still delicious, I guess is my point. Although if you experiment a lot you do find some pretty extreme failure cases. :)

incidently i just started baking bread last week because i live in an area where people don't eat bread much, so it's not common to find.

i had a recipe that put 350ml water to 500g flour. i used whole grain weat flour and the result was a very sticky dough. i added regular flour until it stopped being sticky.

the dough rose beautifully and baked nicely. (i burned it a bit at the top, but that could be scraped off)

today i made another. this time i only used the 500g whole grain flour and didn't add any regular flour but reduced the water, adding more water until it started getting sticky.

this dough didn't rise well. and the resulting bread was denser and had a slightly stronger taste of yeast.

from other comments i see that the stickyness is to be expected and will get better after the first rise. so my second try didn't rise because i didn't use enough water.

interestingly, i just realized thst the consistency of the second attempt is very close to black bread that i got in latvia.

Wholegrain flour doesn't produce as much gluten as bread flour, so it won't trap air as well (resulting in it being flatter). I doubt it was because you didn't have enough water -- in fact if you added water until it was sticky you probably added more water than you did for white flour (wholemeal absorbs much more water).

As an aside, for anyone confused why recipes online can have 70% hydration (when 50% hydration for your dough makes it much sticker than reasonable), it's because they mix wholemeal flour with bread flour and don't mention it in the recipe. I'd suggest adding wholemeal flour (but not much more than 30% of the total flour because too much reduces the amount of gluten you get and thus the structure is noticeably more cakey) because it really improves flavour.

I make bread with 80% hydration: 500 g plain flour (11% protein) definitely no wholemeal, 400 g water, 8 g salt, 1 g dried yeast. Mix roughly leave covered for 12 hours at room temperature (that's between 15 C and 20 C at the moment), cook in a preheated pot with a lid for 30 minutes at 230 C, take off lid, cook for 15 minutes more.

Has a good crust and crumb.

well the first bread was probably ⅔ wholemeal (500g) and ⅓ white (estimated) and 350ml water. i started with wholemeal only and the result was still very sticky. but maybe i just didn't knead it long enough for the flour to absorb the water.

the second was surely less water although i didn't measure.

i'll have to pay closer attention next time.

> but maybe i just didn't knead it long enough for the flour to absorb the water

If you let the dough mix sit for a 10 minutes or so before you start kneading, it allows the flour to hydrate and thus it'll get less sticky. This is one of the arguments for "no-knead" bread recipes.

But when kneading bread you should always knead it until you can take a piece of dough and stretch it thin enough to see light through it (this is called "the window-pane effect"). This indicates that the gluten in the dough is strong enough for a good rise and crust. Once you knead it to that point it's almost always no longer really sticky.

curious. i don't have a machine to mix the dough. the only way to get everything mixed evenly is to start kneading it...

That's okay, you can mix it by hand and it will work without issue (it's what our ancestors did for thousands of years). But if you don't want to knead for 10-15 minutes, if you roughly mix the water and flour then wait 10 minutes and then start kneading you'll find it takes much less time and effort to get the same result.

what i was getting at is, that i can't really tell where the mixing stops and the kneading starts :-)

"mix roughly" gives me a hint though...

Actually eye-balling works great, if you know what you are doing. Using recipes when flour brands and types, humidity, ovens, yeast, and ambient temperature are all over the place means that you pretty much have to adapt recipes to your context. It's not optional. Most recipes try to be idiot proof by managing risk for novice users. E.g. a 65% hydration dough is going to be easier to handle; packs of yeast come in pre-measured packs, etc. A real baker would use higher hydrations, not be using dried yeast, and generally work in large batches. Batch size matters because it's easier to nail the ratios and does not require gram level precision.

Especially proofing times in recipes are in my view complete horse shit because it depends on so many variables beyond your control that any time unit would probably have a very high margin of error. Making bread in the summer and in the winter with the same recipes is guaranteed to have very different outcomes unless you adapt. Over proofing is a thing. So, is under proofing. If you have a sourdough starter, it can be in a barely alive state or in a hyper active state. It's going to affect what it does to dough and how fast it does it. Slow is actually good because time == flavor. Put your dough in the fridge to build more flavor.

The reason scales and exact ratios are nice is that they provide repeatability of the same context; or at least some level of control over it. So if, you've baked a few breads the same way, you can start tweaking a few things. Add a bit more water. Proof a bit shorter/longer, etc. People talk a lot about hydration levels of their doughs. But if you are adding a 150 grams of some sourdough starter with unknown hydration, you are going to mess up the hydration percentage of your perfectly measured ingredients.

When you've done this a couple of times, you develop a sense of what the dough is supposed to feel like and ways to correct if it doesn't feel right. I did not actually use scales until half a year ago. I use them a lot now because it helps me nail things like hydration percentages and salt levels with less guesswork but I use measurements as a starting point and adapt by eyeballing.

I was getting fine results just eyeballing it. Shake in half a pack of flour, that would be about half a kilo. Pinch of salt (most recipes suggest 1.8% by weight), add some starter and about two thirds of a pint of water (I used an actual pint glass) and add water/flour until it feels right. Don't over think it. 60% hydration breads are going to be a bit dense but fine if you knead them well. 85% hydration levels are going to be a sticky mess and a PITA to handle. You need skills to handle that and an understanding of what you are doing. But if you do, the results can be spectacular. I rarely go over 70-75%.

> For those unfamiliar with baking, the shared recipe is pretty much the standard crusty white bread recipe

What if I wanted something more similar to wheat bread? Would it be as simple as using whole wheat flour instead of standard white flour?

Whole wheat absorbs more water. So, I'd suggest adding 5-10% more of it for 100% whole wheat. It depends on the flour type. It's going to be less fluffy. Also consider mixing your flours. Start with 20-50% whole wheat.

I did this just the other day. I left out about 20% of the normal wheat flour, and added some whole wheat flour. You can't substitute it 1:1, so experiment a little until the dough feels right.

I've made this recipe many times, but I go by another[1] method, which is less wall-of-texty, but basically the same.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-knead_bread

A good rule of thumb is "only replace some of the standard all purpose / bread flour". Swapping a cup or two out for oat or whole wheat or rye or whatever is usually fine; replacing it all tends to be trickier.

Whole wheat flour you just raise hydration to 70%+. When kneading, it’ll be very sticky. But then after the first rise, it’ll become more cooperative

Yes, but don't just substitute, as ratios may be a bit different.

I'm surprised nobody here has mentioned Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I've been using this method on and off for years with great results. In fact I'm just finishing off eating a few slices from a loaf that just came out of the oven now!

The idea is that you pre-make dough in batches and refrigerate. Then on baking day (every 2-3 days for me) you shape a loaf and bake it. All the baking day tasks add up to less than 5 minutes spread over a couple of hours, and the prep is really quick too!

The basic recipe is the best starting point: https://artisanbreadinfive.com/2013/10/22/the-new-artisan-br...

Seconding this! The recipe is also really forgiving compared to many others.

I do a "one tin" bread process (less cleaning after) - everything gets mixed and cooked in the bread tin, with some oil added last to stop it from sticking (and adds a nice tasty crust).

The process is (white or brown):

1. Fill tin half way without flour

2. Add some salt (to your taste)

3. A small layer of yeast on top (I experimented to find a few shakes of yeast is enough)

4. Pre-mix the dry mix

5. Mix with luke-warm (warm to the touch) water (keep adding water until everything is mixed)

6. Allow to rise for half hour

7. Glaze with oil to prevent sticking (all the way around)

8. Throw in an oven (from cold) at ~180 degrees

9. Wait 30-50 minutes (depending on the oven)

Experiments that have worked out well:

* Add a light dusting of salt to the outside

* Add seeds to the outside

* Bury lumps of cheese deep into the top of the bread

Benefits are:

* Great testing fresh bread (great having the butter melt into warm bread)

* Exercises your hands quite well

* Very cost effective + ingredients keep for a very long time

> great having the butter melt into warm bread

If you plan on keeping it (i.e. you don't eat it all at once) its best to leave it to cool before cutting it open. Even after it comes out the oven the dough in the middle continues to cook from the steam. If you cut into it too early the steam will be released leading to somewhat soggy bread.

I've been taking a look at Google's search trends on occasion. The term "bread recipes" had a nice uptick after people started panic buying* flour and yeast:


Though my favorite is the search trend for 'bidet':


*Perhaps less sensationally: "caution buying".

Honestly I’ve always used this recipe: https://www.lifeasastrawberry.com/easy-crusty-french-bread/

It requires minimal kneading, and the total turn around is less than a couple of hours.

Of course for both recipes the problem is that they use yeast, which most houses don’t have. For many/most houses that have baking supplies they’re almost certain to have baking soda, so a soda bread presumably works better.

You can make it with far fewer steps:

500 g flour, 400 g water straight from the cold tap(80% hydration), 8 g salt, 1 g yeast.

Mix thoroughly, cover, leave for 12 hours or overnight at whatever room temperature you have.

Turn out and fold over once, cover, leave to prove for two more hours.

Preheat oven and pot with lid to 230 C.

Drop the dough in the pot, cover cook at 230 C for 30 minutes.

Take of lid, cook for another 15 minutes at 230 C.

Take out and wait 30 minutes before cutting.

Usually attributed to Jim Lahey, see https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread

Length of time for fermentation is very non-critical and you can drop the folding and second proving without much harm.

Yep this is how we've been doing it at my house too, and results are great.

I just use a bread maker. Pour in a measured amount of 6 ingredients - it takes 2-3 mins max. Press a button and have a loaf of bread ready in 3-4 hours. You can even set it in the evening with a delay and have a freshly baked bread the minute when you wake up - I did it for the last couple of days.

Some (most?) also have a dough setting. They’ll mix, knead, and let the dough rise (warmed, usually) for you, and notify you when they’re done. You can get about 80-90% of the way to the results of a fully manual process by doing that, then baking, especially if you’re making a fairly plain loaf. The bake is where bread machines fall short (in my experience) so doing just that part in the oven bridges most of the gap. Easy clean up, low effort, good results.

Bread flour and yeast are almost as scarce here as loo rolls!

Yup; I'm hearing from government and media that food supply chains are fine, yet I can't seem to find rice or flour or yeast anywhere, for going on a week now. The people who answer phones at local stores don't seem to have any idea when more is coming in.

If the supply is there, you'd think it'd be straightforward to bring in a few dozen pallets of big (10-15kg) bags of rice and flour, 1 per customer, so that people can avoid coming to the store for the next month or so and avoid infecting themselves/others whilst shopping. I'm curious what the holdup is.

TFA recipe looks delicious. I wish I could try it.

Supply is normal, demand is up. My guess is that panic buying will dry up fairly soon.

Staff at the grocery store can find out when new stocks are coming in. The orders have already been placed, the trucks are already scheduled to arrive, and staff are scheduled to stock the shelves. It’s just a pain to answer questions from so many people.

Stores here (NYC area) had stockouts in bread earlier in the week. The stockouts are happening less, they’re less severe, they’re not lasting as long. Your experience will depend on where you live, exactly which store you go to, and what time you go to the store. My personal experience is that some stores will stockout much sooner than others, e.g., Trader Joes, maybe because the clientele is more prone to panic buying, maybe because of differences in stocking.

The catch here in NYC is that plenty of people just eat out and don’t know how to cook, don’t have food stocks, don’t have tools. Our household bakes bread anyway so we stock flour.

> Supply is normal, demand is up. My guess is that panic buying will dry up fairly soon.

I don't think there is any panic buying going on. Buying for 6-12 weeks for a household is a very rational and prudent thing to do during a declared national emergency for a pandemic with a doubling time of approximately 3-4 days so far.

12 weeks is what the NSA/IC recommends for their own staff during an uncontrolled pandemic: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/jasonleopold/nsa-corona...

Presuming that people buying enough to avoid the store for a month or two is "panic buying" is to invoke the term "panic" when there probably isn't any panic, which I think is a very harmful thing to do.

I normally have about 3 days worth of food at home, not 3 months. Other than Mormons, I don’t think I’ve met anyone who regularly planned for more than 1-2 weeks. By that standard, and using the definition given on Wikipedia, “panic buying” is absolutely accurate.

> "I don't think there is any panic buying going on. Buying for 6-12 weeks for a household is a very rational"

Rational or not, that's the definition of panic buying. If everyone bought their normal 1-2 weeks worth of supplies then there wouldn't be a problem.

You're deliberately excluding the rest of his sentence. If things were normal, yes, buying 1-2 weeks of supplies would be fine. But they're obviously NOT normal. Stores/businesses are closing, supply is inconsistent, and wanting to limit unnecessary interactions make it prudent to plan for greater than your normal 1-2 weeks.

I wasn't passing judgement on whether it's a right or wrong or rational thing to do.

I'm saying that this literally is the definition of panic buying: buying significantly more than you normally would, because you fear that goods will be unavailable, or you will be unable to do your regular shopping in the future.

Reasonable, and I didn't learn this until today.

I think the term "panic buying" is a really bad term for it, then, if you can be entirely not-in-a-panic and fit the definition of "panic buying". It paints it as something it's decidedly not, and people who don't encounter the term very often are likely to make incorrect assumptions about it.

I did my "panic buying" in February, and there was no panic or urgency whatsoever involved.

Panic is uncontrollable fear. Fear is a normal emotion, especially in this situation. Panic would imply buying five years worth of toilet paper because someone told you trees would go extinct.

Words are often used in ways that are etymologically inappropriate. Although “panic buying” sounds like it should require panic, it doesn’t. Other examples of this phenomenon include “automobile” meaning something different from “self-driving” and the way “American” implies “not Mexican” even though Mexico is a country in the continent of America.

panic also explains fighting over toiletpaper. if you weren't panicking you'd simply wait until the toilet paper is restocked. there is enough evidence out there that people are panicking.

I think that household grocery demand will be permanently up - the switch to working from home, and having kids be home instead of school means that suddenly we're home much, much more than before and eating much more meals at home.

So lots of food supply that used to go to restaurants will now be going directly to homes - it does not affect producers much, but it's a very different distribution chain than what the restaurant purchasing uses/used.

It's worth noting that, with the exception of the fresh vegetables imported from somewhere warm, all of the food you're going to eat during this crisis was grown, harvested, processed and preserved last fall, and the current supply chain is just moving it from the warehouses and granaries to your door.

flour is still easy to find where I live, but yeast has completely run out.

I don't even understand why, if you buy a packet of 50g fresh yeast and use a couple grams a day it would last you a month, I think we need to educate people to have slow leavening!

Yeah, I was surprised when the flour shelves were empty two days ago. I didn't think that many people still knew how to bake!

They know how to google how to bake.

Ha! Quite timely. I have a 4 day old sourdough starter that is starting to bubble nicely. If you have the patience and the flour, skip the yeast packet and start a sourdough starter. I've made sourdough in the past, and generally swear by using a spray bottle filled with water to gelatinize the crust during baking, but the dutch oven approach seems nice. I ran across it earlier tonight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJEHsvW2J6M

Is your starter four days old from dry/dormant? Or did you liven up a wet one? The reason I ask is my starter was purchased online and arrived as a sachet of powder. And it took at least a week if not more for it to be ready. While the thing was just beginning to activate it smelled like old socks and bad cheese with a whiff of cabbage to make things really revolting. Then one day...it smelled of bread. Even a bit buttery. And for the past six years it’s been going strong with the same mild breadth yeasty buttery smell.

Anyhow what I’m saying is that 4 days seems too soon to start using in my limited experience.

Apparently in the first days there are many bacteria fighting for territory and until the right ones win it’s gonna smell like death!

Yes, a new sourdough starter will go through several phases of strange and awful smells before it settles down to a consistent yummy sour yeastiness.

Personally I'd question whether its worth even bothering with a dry powder starter, I just make mine with flour (mix of rye and wheat) and filtered water. The yeast is either present in the flour or is picked up naturally from the air.

4 days from the start. Just flour and water. I didn't buy anything but the flour. I mixed them up, brought it outside for a bit to catch some wild bacteria and yeasts, and I've been stirring it periodically. I put it in the oven with the light on a few times to speed things up. Every day I add a bit more flour and water. It currently smells like yogurt and is full of small bubbles. I think it should be ready to use in another 2-3 days.

I too have been making lots of bread lately (baguettes) and have a question to which I didn't find a satisfactory answer yet. Most recipes seem to suggest baking temperature of 450-470F. But there are hints that higher is better. My oven can do 550F. Is higher better? What is the temperature used in bakeries?

Higher isn’t necessarily better. You are balancing how long to fully bake the dough with how dry/crisp/burnt the crust becomes. Depending on hydration, presence of steam, baking surface, etc... Deck ovens (typically used for French style baguette) are usually in the 450-500 range for baguette, but have some major differences with home ovens. Even if your oven goes up to 500 or 550, actually maintaining that internal temp can be quite difficult for a home oven, which is why many home recipes suggest turning it all the way up. Best advice is to try different things with your oven, see what difference it makes!

Thanks! I will experiment. I just realized that I could also use the convection setting, which might help equalize the temp.

Convection is another good one to test. At least in my experience oven temps often end up lower with convection on up over 450F, because of increased exhaust (obviously depends on oven). And if you are not using a Dutch oven and maybe even if you are, it dissipates moisture much faster often leaving a duller, thinner crust and one that darkens too quickly for the bake. I have seen posts from people baking at home with convection that are really happy with it though.

Updating mostly for myself: Using convection worked great. The time needed went from 26 minutes to 16, and the crust is better. I baked at 500, but will probably reduce to 475 next time.

Try it and see, to be honest. Home ovens are unreliably different from one to the next, and tastes vary from person to person.

not professional advice - just a tinkerer. I find that pre-heating to 450 and dropping it down to 380 for the bulk of the bake is a nice tradeoff between getting that good initial spring against an even bake with a chewy not not overly dry crust.

I also use a 3/8" steel plate to have some leftover heat to transfer to the dough after the door closes..that probably helps

If you have flour, and haven't had the chance before, this is the perfect time to get a sourdough starter going. And don't throw away the discard/leftover, it can be used as a base for all kinds of stuff, from pancakes to cupcakes!

Heat a some oil in the pan, roast some chopped up scallions and a little sesame seed and bake a sourdough pancake at medium heat from the discard. Delicious!

I couldn't find yeast easily, but I nabbed a couple bags of unbleached flour, so I've started making a sourdough starter.

An entertaining and very informative series of videos on sourdough, including recipes and some basic info: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLURsDaOr8hWWSiMZBLGP2...

Instant yeast, 1/12th teaspoon <-- how does one measure that kind of thing ? wouldn't it be easier and more accurate to use grams ?

It's too small to use a normal gram-accurate kitchen scale; received wisdom is that one quarter-teaspoon of instant yeast is about a gram. So a third of a gram is a twelfth of a teaspoon.

Thanks for a prompt - I've now added a note in the text to this effect!

It's a lot less yeast than I usually use, but I also only let it rise for an hour or two, not overnight, so I suppose that accounts for it. Assuming for simplicity's sake that rising & proving time is directly proportional to yeast quantity; if you had a limitless supply of both yeast and time, would you suggest less yeast and longer rise, for better bread?

Lord, I'm not really qualified; I've only been baking for a few weeks. My justification for writing this was more that I thought I could put it in a style that a new audience would be receptive to, rather than any perceived expertise on my own part.

That said, received wisdom is that loooong, slow ferments give more flavourful loaves. That's usually achieved with tiny amounts of yeast and time in the fridge. But please, go ask the experts over on /r/breadit, you'll get a much more reliable answer there.

Speaking from experience, 1/12th of a teaspoon of instant yeast is below 1 gram. So you need specialized equipment to measure this. But you can estimate 1/12th teaspoon fairly accurately.

All yeast is different so you'll have to do some trial and error regardless. In general, too much yeast is better than not enough yeast. The most important thing is that you have a consistent way of measuring yeast amounts, whether by weight or volume. And always buy the exact same yeast.

> The most important thing is that you have a consistent way of measuring yeast amounts

Well, when sharing recipes, it certainly help if _we_ have a consistent way of measuring amounts. 1/12th teaspoon sounds very hard to actually measure in real life and some teaspoons have different sizes. Using grams (weight) or milliliters (volume) would make it much easier to replicate + it gets easier to multiply the recipe in your head.

So I agree, let's start using international measurements for recipes please!

In theory, this is fine. In reality, we need some of these other systems. Few folks have a couple of good scales (and yes, you need two: One for small amounts and one for the larger ones).

Luckily, bread making isn't that exact, especially for home kitchens.

> Few folks have a couple of good scales

I'm not sure I'd say "few" but my frame of reference is Europe. Most people I know have a tool which seems to be called "measuring spoon set" in English, which has the common volume-measurements. People who do baking with recipes usually have a scale that can resolve down to 1g, which seems to work out for most recipes.

Good to hear that bread making is not that exact though, so you could probably eyeball it in that case.

(just wanted to add that with one weight you can usually [imprecisely] weight both really small values and really big values by multiplying/dividing. Let's say you need 0.5g but your scale can only do down to 1g, so you can weight 1g and then just half it and now you have 0.5g. Same goes if you need 1kg when max is 100g, just do 100g and then multiply)

> (just wanted to add that with one weight you can usually [imprecisely] weight both really small values and really big values by multiplying/dividing. Let's say you need 0.5g but your scale can only do down to 1g, so you can weight 1g and then just half it and now you have 0.5g. Same goes if you need 1kg when max is 100g, just do 100g and then multiply)

Not with a 1gram-resolution scale - at best it's measured 1g +/- 0.5g, so after you halve it you have anything from 0.25g to 0.75g, +/- your own inaccuracy in halving such a small quantity. (I suppose you could count out each spore cluster!)

However, I really don't believe it's going to have a material affect on your homemade bread; that level of recipe precision just isn't important outside of commercial manufacturing.

"Europe" is a big place, though. I fully expected everyone to have kitchen scales when I moved here from the US, but honestly, folks around here use a measuring cup. Flour is measured in dl, salt in teaspoons (or parts of them). I think the standard teaspoon is 5ml and the Tablespoon is at 15ml.

I happen to have scales: The large volume scale was easy to find. The scale that would measure things like salt? not so easy to find and not cost effective at all.

I'm in Norway, by the way.

The amount of yeast will depend on the exact brand of yeast (and for perishable yeasts, its age). So recipe are more of a guideline and not a substitute for trial and error and knowing your yeast. Yeast isn't like sugar, it's a living organism rather than a simple molecule, so by weight measurements are not sufficient for reproducibility.

Hm, I wonder if that's local to your region? In the countries I've in in Europe, I've always followed the recipes exactly regarding all ingredients, including yeast, and made good stuff, even with different brands of yeast. Or simply my taste buds are terrible.

This is probably because most recipes specify more yeast than is truly required. Yeast is generally quite forgiving, you can use a lot more than required before experiencing side effects. It becomes less forgiving the longer you ferment your dough, if you are fermenting for several days then you can't get away with blasting the dough with yeast, in any case the problem isn't taste but the texture of the final product.

What am I missing that makes this ‘quarantine’ bread?

Seems the same as baking non-quarantine bread, albeit with more steps.

Personally I find this recipe way easier and also foolproof. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/paul_hollywoods_crusty_83...

Addressed in first 'graph of article.

Clearly I’m still being really dumb. Do you just mean that the ingredients are dense compared to the output?

"The ingredients are cheaper[1], 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...."

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

In a quarantine:

1. Minimising cash expense is good. Cheaper is better.

2. Storage space is limited. Denser is better.

3. Minimising exposure risk through shopping runs is good. Longer shelf-life is better. Stock up, then live off supplies for days, weeks, or months.

4. Time is abundant. Long-running tasks are not a detriment.

5. Low effort is generally good.

"Quarantine bread" minimises use of resources and exposures to risk which you'll want to minimise in a quarantine, and takes advantage of the abundant time resource.

Yeah I get that bread is good in a quarantine - I’m making my own every few days right now - but is this any better than just making any other bread recipe. That’s all I’m saying.

Anyone else ever marvel at the fact that one of humanity's most essential foods is basically wheat foam?

I highly recommend just reading the book "Flour Water Salt Yeast", which is where this recipe comes from: https://kensartisan.com/flour-water-salt-yeast

Hey OP, great loaf, and great idea to bullet point the instructions. Kinda funny how the comments here differ in tone from /r/breadit so much :)

I hope it's ok if I give some unsolicited feedback:

One thing I've been trying out lately which has massively improved my loaves is diverging a bit from the Forkish recipes (which I'm sure are great when done properly, but I think there's a few things you can do to make it easier). You can see at the top middle of your crumbshot that there's a big gap, where it kind of fell down a bit. This is because at the point of cooking the dough didn't have quite enough strength.

There's a number of ways you can increase the strength, but I've found that folding is pretty useless IME with the flour that I've had. I've had some success with just 2-3 folds when I switched to a higher gluten flour (or just added some vital wheat gluten to my flour mix)... but I've found that a better strengthening technique before I do the folds has radically improved the strength of the gluten strands.

My favourite way is the Rubaud method (check out https://youtu.be/zgz0oAhgwyg?t=72) directly after the pincer and fold step, for about 5 minutes, followed by a few minutes break, then another 5 minutes. After that, you can leave off the later folds completely, or still do them to try and eek out the last bit of ovenspring.

Additionally, you can see that the loaf spread out a bit on baking. This is usually an issue of the shaping, which I had troubles with for soooo long after starting with FWSY. I found that this started to really improve when I added dough strength, but when I was starting out I was trying to duplicate what Forkish was doing and kept on failing. I think that https://youtu.be/ww78_SfGyQE?t=181 is a much easier tutorial to follow — but of course, if the dough doesn't have the strength then it'll continue to be difficult.

Anyway, happy baking. Best of luck finding good flours (and try out adding some wholemeal and rye to the mix stealing from the pain de campagne recipe, may be easier to find than plain white)!

Thanks very much! Yeah, I realised after Loaf #1 my folding technique needed to improve, and being a bit more energetic with the folds has given much better results (today's loaf! https://i.imgur.com/2WQYvcT.jpg). I'd never heard of the Rubaud method though, I'll try that out tomorrow!

Wow, what a great looking loaf!

A tip.

When you make bread regularly (as in quarantine), reserve piece of the dough to add it to the dough the next day.

This is guaranteed, absolutely the easiest way to have sourdough bread regularly without having to tinker with the starter. The dough is less hydration than typical starter, it is also already salted. This makes it more stable than typical 100% hydration starter.

Also, it has the hydration and salt content of your final dough which has the fantastic property that it does not change your basic proportions regardless of how much you add it. This makes all calculations extremely easy.

Agreed. The only downside is that a disagreeable sour flavor can creep into the bread if you add much of the old dough or let it rise too long.

People who like 21st century vinegar-flavored bread can ignore this!

I typically add around 10% of starter. If you can't stand sour flavor add just 5% and let it rise quickly (higher temperature) so that bacteria does not have time to grow and accumulate lactic acid.

I get my bread flour (which is gluten enriched) from a restaurant supply store. Seeing how restaurants are slowed now and not many folks know about these stores, it might be a good place to check out. Also, you don't need yeast if you just maintain a portion of the dough (a sourdough starter) in a small container in your refrigerator.

I used to do "bread" (just 20 minutes of growing in a warm place instead of leaving it overnight).

The result was, well, not amazing, but it served its purpose: https://wringing.it/chleb.jpg

Best thing about home-baked bread is that you can control the ingredients, especially the amount of salt and the obvious lack of preservatives.

Some recommendations: -For 260g add a flat teaspoon of sugar - yeast loves sugar, but only to a certain extent. -Instead of sprinkling the yeast, mix it with warm water and pour whilst squishing - you'll get a more even distribution. Also "yeast bombs" taste bad so you don't want that.

My experience is that the end result depends greatly on the amount of squish you apply. If you play an instrument like a guitar you should have enough grip force to aerate the dough nicely.

Sugar is not needed at all for bread baking. This is sadly a common myth. The yeast used in bread making cannot digest complex carbohydrates.

Sugar does serve a purpose in bread (flavour and colour -- sugars love to brown when heated) but it's not in any way a required ingredient. If you don't want your bread to be sweetened, don't add it.

The yeast used in bread making cannot digest complex carbohydrates.

Citation needed.

I mean, I should've mentioned that I use brewer's yeast, but nevertheless.

Yeah, after looking it up I don't think that explanation was right. However, I would argue the conclusion is correct though -- sugar is not a required ingredient for bread dough.

The more correct explanation is that the primary source of sugar for yeast in bread dough is the starches in the flour -- adding a teaspoon of sugar won't impact the fermentation process enough to make any noticeable difference.

I've tried baking doughs both ways and there really isn't any appreciable difference. Yeah, the bread with sugar tastes and browns better, but it doesn't rise any better. You also don't need to "bloom" your yeast (though it does help to do because it lets you check whether the yeast is alive or not).

For other types of fermentation you do need some kind of sugar (ginger beer, Kombucha, etc). Beer also has sugar but it's in the form of boiled malts (which release a lot of sugar into the water).

A damper is previous even easier, only requiring floor, water, salt and a camp fire --> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damper_(food) (depending on your location, a camp fire might be difficult ...)

Good place to get your sourdough started (pun intended):


FYI: a “dutch oven” as mentioned in the article is another name for a casserole dish or Bedourie oven.

Not exactly. Dutch Ovens are specifically chosen for their size and for being almost universally made of cast iron.

Bedourie ovens would work if cast iron, but they often aren't.

What most people think of as casserole dishes are just not the right size and shape.

its also when you fart in bed under the sheets.

Personally, I’m partial to soda bread - flour, buttermilk, salt, baking soda.

Easy to make, just mix and plop in pan

It seems like everyone in this town (Brighton, UK) realised that they were about to run out of dried yeast yesterday, and there's none to buy. This morning I took to twitter with photos of the beginnings of a sourdough starter and there are a lot of photos of folk doing the same.

Mine won't work though. It's Half and half strong white flour and whole buckwheat flour. The idea is that the latter will donate yeast. Or maybe it will...

Give it time. It takes about a week to bootstrap a starter. You need to feed it every day by giving it equal amounts fresh water & flour and discarding about half of the starter.

Once you have a stable starter, it's very forgiving. I tend to use pretty much all of it and then toss some flour/water into the container it used to be in. The little starter left behind in the container mixes with the flour and water and it lives on. I keep it in the fridge when I don't need it.

I had to give it 3-4 days before I got some activity. Any flour should work as long as it is unbleached. I've had good success with just Sainsbury's strong white bread flour. It has given me a fragrant peachy starter.

It's just that for the past week I've been unable to buy yeast or flour anywhere. (And right now I'm avoiding supermarkets as much as I can.)

It’s kind of sad that the internet now is a cesspool of SEO content, even coming from technical writers. This is a “quarantine bread” recipe by someone who says it’s “the first thing I’ve ever baked” and wants to teach you.

The way the recipe extends with a timetable is comical. There are way simpler, no-knead recipes you can bake in a Dutch oven that will give you even better results, written by.. bakers. Good luck out there!

> There are way simpler, no-knead recipes you can bake in a Dutch oven that will give you even better results.

Care to elaborate and/or post links to recipes? I've been baking for years and have found that the recipes with longer rise times generally produce more flavorful loaves. Yes, it's more effort and takes longer, but the payoff is a more flavorful bread.

That said, if there are recipes out there that require less time AND are more flavorful, I would love to hear about them.

The absolute best-tasting "regular sourdough" I've ever made came from grinding my own wheat berries. I'm not actually that excited about whole-wheat bread, but what I do is get a 25-pound sack of wheat berries from Eastern Washington (I'm in Seattle), grind out about 120g, and make a "dry poolish" -- something like 40% hydration -- with the sourdough starter and a touch of malt powder (commercial flour has enzymes already added). Leave that in the fridge overnight, or for a day or two, and then use that to build a regular sourdough dough (which also gets bulk fermented in the fridge later).

Takes planning (and a grinder!), but very little effort. You get the all flavor of "real" whole wheat, compounded by slow fermentation, and the resulting bread is some of the best I've ever tasted.

I tried doing the same thing with ground rye berries, but oddly it wasn't all that exciting.

Here's one:

3 metric cups of Brown Bread Flour or Wholewheat flour, 1 sachet instant yeast (personally we have a homegrown sourdough starter, but that's a whole other topic). You can get by with a little less yeast, and with bought-in yeast I'd add about a teaspoon of sugar to get the yeast well fed. A good handful of sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds if you like. I like to add about a tablespoon of linseeds. This is all optional. 1 scant teaspoon of salt. (This is not optional.)

Mix all the dry ingredients, then add water to make a sloppyish dough and mix well -- you can stir it with a spoon, but not easily, and it's sticky as hell. It takes about 1.5 to 2 cups of water, but it will vary depending on the flour, how old the flour is, the weather/humidity on the day, etc.

I like to dust the top of the loaf with a tablespoon or so of poppy seeds.

Turn the dough into a well-greased loaf tin and bung the tin in a plastic bag. Lift the bag away from the top of the loaf otherwise the dough will stick when it rises. Warm places are good, but it's not critical, and too warm is bad. Rising time could be as short as an hour, could be as long as 3 or 4 (unusual) and depends on too many factors to enumerate here. Once you've baked a loaf or two you'll have a good idea how long it takes given your flour, yeast, weather, etc.

When the dough has risen and seems ready to overflow the tin, put it into a 180C oven for 1 hour. When it comes out of the oven, immediately tip the load out of the tin and allow to cool on a rack. If the loaf won't tip easily out of the tin, you didn't grease the tin well enough.

A good test of whether your loaf is 'done' is to tap the bottom with a fingertip. It should sound 'hollow' and not 'dead', but honestly, if you've never had experience with breadmaking before, you'll be hard-pressed to hear much difference. It's one of those things that comes with experience, much like the feel/consistency of dough in more complicated breads.

It's very easy, takes about 5 minutes and lasts better than store-bought, but tastes so much better that shelf-life is seldom an issue. You may make a few 'flops' the first time or two you try, but they'll all be edible (nay, tasty). Keep at it.

eta: I see (late) you said 'dutch oven'. Just substitute 'dutch oven' where I wrote 'tin'. I've baked many a loaf with a dutch oven (and on a fire rather than an oven) and it works every bit as well.

Heh, for anyone else wondering: metric cup is actually a thing in some parts of the world https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cup_%28unit%29#Metric_cup

Cups are an absolute nightmare of a measurement system.

In the UK, Imperial (284ml - i.e. 1/2pint), metric (250ml), and 'US customary' (237ml - i.e. 1/2 US pint) are all commonly sold. Less common is them actually telling you which they are.

In fact they mostly only say if they're US (though not stating that isn't a guarantee they're not!) because that's a selling point - people almost exclusively want them for following American recipes, they're rarely used here otherwise.

But for some reason that doesn't stop the others being sold.

Recipes also rarely state which. Or they'll say '250ml' but you suspect they're probably actually just rounding from US cups.

It annoys me out of pedantry and ambiguity, but with my other hat on, I think people care far too much about precision in recipes and following recipes, to the detriment of their cooking. For the sorts of things you're going to use a 'cup' for, being 20% off (Imperial vs. US) is probably fine; obviously more so the more ingredients there are in the recipe that are measured with cups.

I use a panasonic bread machine at least once every week for decades now and it works really well. There is nothing better than a fresh bread.

I wonder hoy many hackers out there are making their own bread.

I started baking my own yesterday after making pizza dough while the kids were wathing a movie.

I've been baking for years, because despite all the fancy cuisine that exists (and I do appreciate that too), there's nothing quite like fresh warm bread with a generous layer of butter on top. It's something special that you can't buy anywhere.

Be warned that high temperatures can crack the enamel off of enamel coated dutch ovens. Found this out the hard way... Now I only use that one for bread. Best to use a un-coated one for bread if you have one.

“nothing fancier than a dutch oven” .. lol

I can’t afford to live in an apartment with a large enough stove to accommodate any kind of standard dutch oven. That’s as an L6 engineering manager at a large profitable tech company. Even with high salary and equity, I am entirely priced out of apartments with “normal” kitchen space or appliances.

My only oven is a https://www.breville.com/us/en/products/ovens/bov900.html

It fits a 5 qt Lodge Dutch Oven just fine.

It actually works better for baking than a full sized oven because it’s easier to keep a consistent temp.

White wheat flour is not that good for you, but of course it's an easy starting point. Try some healthier receipes next time if you start with this.

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