The New Frontier: Bread

While I certainly enjoy food – both of its eating and of its preparation – I do not consider myself a good cook or a prolific baker by any means. I have a few things I make that I’m proud to serve, and I really do enjoy entertaining in our own home.

Bread, to me, has always been something daunting, something beyond my limited culinary abilities. In fact, Rob’s sole attempt at breadmaking a couple of years ago resulted in 3 very hard little rocks. So hard that hurling them against our concrete front porch and the pavement had no effect. That did not bolster my hopes.

So, when Rob wanted to purchase a dutch oven and I started researching last week, I repeatedly read about people cooking bread in their dutch ovens (i.e.: simply a cast iron pot), and my interest was piqued. [For the record, we purchased this no-frills, economical version by Lodge, over the much-hankered for Le Creuset which quite literally costs 10 times more.]

Armed with my copy of “My Bread” by Jim Lahey, I dove into my maiden attempt at breadmaking!


The premise is simple: A “no knead” bread that is possible by exponentially lengthening the fermentation time, so that the yeast + gluten can work its magic. Then, using a dutch oven (the cast iron pot), the “oven-in-an-oven” mimics the powerful steam injection ovens of professional bakeries.

The first stage of mixing the ingredients is super easy: the author’s not kidding when he says it takes all of 5 minutes, and apparently so easy a child can do it.

I start with the basic recipe using regular bread flour.

3 cups of flour.

Add yeast. (Aside: Erm… for so many years, I assumed that ‘Red Star’ was a Singaporean company!!)

Add salt and water, and mix it all up. Cover with cling wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours.

After 12 hours, the dough would have risen and doubled in size, with air holes all over the surface.

Plop onto floured surface (I used parchment paper), shape into a ball, and cover with a towel for a second rise, about 1-2 hours. Until you can poke the dough with your finger, leaving an indentation that doesn’t bounce back.

((And then forget to take pictures of the part where I throw the dough into the pot, because I need all the hands I have))

Bread is done in the pot. The weird knot on the bread was the remnant dough I scraped off the bowl/my hands and plopped on top of the ball of dough. Clearly not a good idea because it makes my bread look like it has a cankerous sore. Or a tumor.

Gorgeous rustic loaf. It’s so forgiving. Despite my failure to achieve a shapely ball, the loaf turned out nicely, rustic and would easily get away with being called an ‘artisan bread’.

Crisp crust, soft, tender, and chewy center. Mmmmm….

Plus Points:
– Easy to make
– Delicious
– “Rustic” and “artisan”
– No weird chemicals like commercially produced breads.
– Can control what you put in it: organic flour / whole wheat / add other ingredients, all up to you.

– Crust is harder than I’d like, possibly because I ‘lost’ dough between the 1st/2nd rise and the ‘flipping’ into the pot, so I essentially overcooked this (less mass but same cooking time as recipe).
– Bread gets hard quickly – doesn’t keep for more than a day.
– Needs forward planning – prep today, bake tomorrow.

Overall Verdict: I’m very happy with the outcome, and I’m certainly hooked. As I write this, I have a whole wheat version fermenting on my kitchen counter. I LOVE BREAD!

3 thoughts on “The New Frontier: Bread

  1. Wow it sounds so simple that I’m tempted to try!! I’ve been wanting to make bread for K for the longest time (to avoid all those flavoring/preservatives the off-the-shelf ones have), but it just seemed so impossible!

    Wouldn’t you have to have quite a big oven though, if you wanted to plonk a dutch oven (did some Google on the foreign term, and it looked more like a casserole dish to me!) in it?

    Also, would you be able to publish/send across the recipe? :)

    • A “dutch oven” is just a metal pot. The one I bought ( is not much bigger than a say, a family-sized claypot (for claypot rice), probably 30cm across at most? My oven is definitely not large! You can also use pyrex glass / enamel etc, as long as it can tolerate the heat.

      That said, I’m not sure if such artisan loaves are suitable/favored by kids because they tend to be much harder and chewier than commercial bread.

      I’ve been using recipes out of Jim Lahey’s book, but you can try this one that I referenced above. I just used room temperature water instead of warm like she says, and I had no issues.

  2. Pingback: Easy Meals: Kimchi Jjigae « Nascentes Morimur

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