Artisan Bread for Beginners


Artisan Bread for Beginners

By The Artisan Bakery School

All contents copyright © Penny Williams and Dragan Matijevic 2013


Published by Pendragan Publishing



Shakespir Edition

This book cannot be copied, reprinted or redistributed for sale by any mechanical, electronic or other means. The design, photographs and text remain the properties of the authors.

The information contained in this text has been verified and documented as carefully as possible. The authors cannot be held liable for the use of its contents.


Pendragan Publishing

Old Home Cottage


Plymouth PL7 5DQ

United Kingdom

First Edition 2013

Table of Contents

Artisan Bread for Beginners

Table of Contents

Seven Steps to Bread Heaven

How to use this book

Managing Your Time

Four Basic Artisan Bread Recipes
p((. What flour to use.

Basic White

Basic Brown

Basic White with Olive Oil

Basic White with Rye Flour

Basic Tools

The Seven Steps

Managing Your Time – Three Modes of Baking
p((. Step 1: Measuring and kneading

Step 2: First rise, folding and Flexi Point 1

Step 3: Scaling, pre-shaping and bench rest

Step 4: Shaping and Flexi Point 2

Step 5: Proving and timing

Step 6: Scoring and decorating

Step 7: Baking
p((. Storing

7 Party Bread Recipes
p((. Cheese & Onion Bread

7 Seeded Loaf

Tomato, Pesto and Garlic Bread

Chef’s Mushroom Bread

Cocoa Delight

Date and Apricot Breakfast Bread

Oats, Barley Malt & Ginger

Essential Tips for Better Baking
p((. Controlling Taste

Controlling Crumb, Texture and size

Controlling Crust

Controlling Shape

Essential Techniques
p((. Shaping





Essential Baking Terms
p((. Fermentation





Maillard Effect.

Adding Seeds to Your Recipes
p((. Seed Varieties

Seed Combinations

p((. Flour




Thank you for purchasing this book!

Other Books by The Artisan Bakery School
p((. Building a Wood Fired Oven in a Day

A Million and One Original Bread Recipes

Baking Real Sourdough Bread

Perfect Pizza

Baking Low Gluten & Heritage Breads

The Microbakery Blueprint

The Micropizzeria Blueprint

About The Artisan Bakery School

Contact Us

About Dragan

About Penny


Useful Links

Seven Steps to Bread Heaven

If you think making artisan bread is something that takes all day to do and a lifetime to master, this book will revolutionise your thinking.

Artisan bread is often sourdough, but beginners can achieve equally impressive results without using a sourdough culture. The secret is in a process called retardation – slowing down the rate at which the dough rises, so that the flavours and dough texture can mature. This book shows you how to do this by using your fridge, so you can fit baking great bread into even the most hectic lifestyle.

By following our unique Seven Steps Method, you will be able to bake a beautiful loaf first time. Our clear instructions are backed up with simple explanations of why you are doing what you’re doing at every stage. This is because understanding the process will help you grasp the skills more effectively, and develop an intuitive feel for the dough and for baking.

As you quickly gain confidence, you will want to experiment with different flours and additional ingredients such as dried fruits, nuts, herbs and spices. We’ve given you some of our own favourite recipes to try, and hope that they will inspire you to create your own. So, grab an apron and get ready. Your adventure in authentic bread-making is about to begin!

Good luck and happy baking! Penny & Dragan.

How to use this book

First, please read the whole book before you start. This will help you organise your thinking and your kitchen, so you don’t get all floury and frustrated half way through.

Four Basic Artisan Bread Recipes

This section contains recipes for four basic breads: White, Brown, Rye and White with Olive Oil.  Choose a recipe and simply follow The Seven Steps using The Straight Run. (The Basic White is the easiest one to start with.) We suggest you aim to make great bread with one Basic dough first, before moving on to another flour. Once you’re confident and familiar with the way each dough behaves, you can expand your repertoire using the recipes given in the Party Breads section of this book.

Note: recipe quantities are also shown as percentages so that you can scale the number of loaves you want to bake up or down. The flour weight is always 100% and other ingredients are a percentage of that weight. At The Artisan Bakery School, we only use organic flour, sea salt and filtered water (because chlorine in tap water tends to kill the yeast).

For your convenience the figures in the basic recipes have been rounded and each of the basic recipes will make 1000g of dough.

What flour to use.

We recommend choosing organic strong bread flour and where possible, a heritage variety. Each type of flour has its own characteristics.

White flour will give the biggest, most reliable rise. A heritage white flour will usually include a blend of different heritage wheats and may appear almost creamy in colour.

Wholemeal flour, particularly stoneground, is highly nutritious as it still contains all the wheat’s original minerals and vitamins. However, it also still contains bran. Bran is rough and tends to prick the gas bubbles in the dough, resulting in a slightly lower rise than the white flour, and a denser crumb. A wholemeal loaf is one made entirely with wholemeal flour, and will be fairly heavy. A brown loaf includes some white flour to lighten the texture.

Rye flour is much lower in gluten than wheat flour and produces a very low rise with quite a dense crumb. It has a rich and distinctive flavour and is enjoyably chewy. Rye also combines well with white flour to produce the kind of rustic loaf given in the recipe here.

Heritage flours.

Heritage varieties of flour tend to be a more primitive form of wheat, with only two sets of chromosomes instead of the six or more sets in modern, hybridised wheat. The relative simplicity of their protein structure makes them much easier for humans to digest, and some people with gluten/wheat sensitivities find they can enjoy bread made with heritage flour.

Note: quantities are also shown as percentages as well as weights so that you can scale the number of loaves you want to bake up or down. The flour is always 100% and other ingredients are a percentage of that weight. We only use organic flour & salt and filtered water (chlorine in tap water tends to kill the yeast).

Basic White

600g / 1lb 5.1oz White Flour 4½ cups

390g / 13.7floz Water 1¾ cups

12g / 2tsp Salt

1.5g / ¼tsp Quick Dry Yeast 0.25%

Basic Brown

300g / 10.6oz Wholemeal Flour 2¼ cups

300g / 10.6oz White Flour 2¼ cups

390g / 13.7floz Water 1¾ cups

12g / 2tsp Salt

1.5 / ¼tsp Quick Dry Yeast

Basic White with Olive Oil

Adding olive oil or pecan oil to your recipes adds taste and softens the gluten (especially good if the flour is of strong variety). You can add anything from 1% to 10%, but 4% is the most common. Like all other additions to basic dough, add oil after you mixed and kneaded the basic dough. If oil is added at the same time it will coat the gluten strands and will prevent the leaven from working on the dough as well as it should.

600g / 1lb 5.1oz White flour 4½ cups

390g / 13.7floz Water 1¾ cups

25g / 0.9oz Olive oil 3tbsp

12g / 2tsp Salt

1.5g / ¼tsp Quick dry yeast

Basic White with Rye Flour


Rye flour adds taste and goodness to your dough.

When you add rye to your dough it will make it heavier as rye is very low on gluten. If you find 15% rye too much you can try 10% instead. On the other hand you may like adding the rye so much that you can try bigger percentages of up to 30%.

Here are the proportions with rye flour in them:

510g / 1lb 1.9oz White Flour 3¾ cups

90g / 3.2oz Rye ¾ cup

390g / 13.7floz Water 1¾ cups

12g / 2tsp Salt

1.5g / ¼tsp Quick Dry Yeast

Basic Tools

Check your basic equipment

a) Digital scales

b) Cooking thermometer

c) Large jug

d) Mixing bowl

e) Plastic scraper

f) Sharp blade,(lame or grignette) for scoring dough

g) Either a couple of bannetons or a couple of baskets / bowls you can line with a clean, floured teacloth.

h) A couple of non-stick baking trays, or metal trays lined with baking parchment

Enough free space in your fridge to keep the mixing bowl for the Fridge Fermentation or Fridge Proving Modes.

The Seven Steps

Time, Temperature and Techniques

Valid for all the recipes

1. Measuring and kneading 

2. First rise, folding and ‘Flexi Point’ number one!

3. Scaling, pre-shaping and bench-resting  

4. Shaping the dough – ‘Flexi Point’ number two!

5. Proving and timing

6. Scoring and decorating – your signature

7. Baking

Managing Your Time – Three Modes of Baking

The Straight Run is the mode you should start learning with. The second two modes simply offer different ‘Flexi’ points at which to press Pause in The Seven Steps, using a process known as retardation of the dough.

The Straight Run:

Please use one of our basic bread recipes but increase the yeast to 1% (6g/1tsp).

Follow Steps 1-7, allowing around 3 hours for the bulk fermentation in Step 2. After Step 3 (Scaling, Pre-shaping and Bench rest) and Step 4 (Shaping the dough) you should allow around 1 hour to 1.5 hours for proving in Step 5.

It’s roughly a five hour run from Step 1 to the end of Step 7 (Baking).


Step 1: Start mixing and kneading: 10.00am – finish 10.15am

Step 2: Rest dough for 3 hours until 13.15pm – Fold the dough twice, first at 10.45am, second at 11.15am

Step 3: Cut the dough into individual loaves sizes and pre-shape it 13.15pm to 13.20pm

Step 4: Shape the dough from 13.20pm to 13.25pm

Step 5: Prove the dough for 1 hour to 1.5 hours from 13.25pm to 14.25pm

Step 6: Decorate and cut the dough from 14.25pm to 14.30pm

Step 7: Bake the loaf from 14.30pm to 15.00-15.10pm

Fridge Fermentation:

Please use one of the basic bread recipes.

After Step 1, slow the fermentation down in Step 2 by putting the dough in the fridge (5°C / 41°F) to rise. It takes a minimum of 12 hours (i.e. overnight) for this, but you can leave the dough in the fridge for up to 100 hours (4 days). When you want to bake, take as much dough as you need out of the fridge and follow Steps 3-7.


Step 1: Monday 10.00am – Mix and knead the dough. For this example, we’ll say you mix 2100g or 3lb of dough. Finish 10.15am.

Step 2: Let the dough rest in the fridge. Fold the dough once, just before bed time at 9pm or 10pm and return it to the fridge.

Step 3: Tuesday 5.00pm – Take 700g or 1lb of dough and put the rest back into the fridge. Gently pre-shape the dough and leave to rest for 5 to 15 minutes.

Step 4: Tuesday 5.15pm – Shape the dough

Step 5: Tuesday 5.20pm – Prove the dough in a warm place for up to 2 hours.

Step 6: Tuesday 7.00pm – Decorate and cut the dough

Step 7: Tuesday 7.05pm – Bake the loaf in a pre-heated oven from 7.05pm to 7.35-7.45pm

Note: You can bake two more 700g / 1lb loaves from the fridge dough, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday or Friday even. Wonderful artisan breads on tap!

Fridge Proving:

Please use one of the basic bread recipes.

After Step 1, do Step 2, rising in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Remove from fridge and do Steps 3 and 4 (scaling, pre-shaping, resting, shaping). Return shaped loaves to fridge for Step 5 (proving) for another 8-12 hours. Remove from fridge, score and decorate (Step 6) and put straight into a hot oven – Step 7.

The advantage here is that you can make a big batch of dough at the beginning of the week, and shape one loaf every evening to prove overnight and bake each morning for the rest of the week! The flavour of the bread will be quite mild on Monday, and by the last one, on Sunday, you’ll have a really characterful sourdough taste.


Step 1: Monday 7.00pm – Mix and knead the dough. For this example, we’ll say you mix 2100g / 3lb of dough. Finish 7.15pm.

Step 2: Let the dough rest in the fridge. Fold the dough once, sometime Tuesday morning and return to the fridge.

Step 3: Tuesday 7.00pm – Take 700g / 1lb of dough and place the rest back into the fridge. Gently pre-shape the dough and leave to rest for 5 to 15 minutes.

Step 4: Tuesday 7.15pm – Shape the dough

Step 5: Tuesday 7.20pm – Place the dough into a banneton. Put the banneton inside a plastic bag and return it to the fridge.

Step 6: Wednesday 8am – Turn the oven. Decorate and cut the dough

Step 7: Wednesday 8.10am – Bake the loaf from 8.10am to 8.45 or 8.55am if you prefer darker and harder crusts.

I find this method the most time efficient. You make your bread with only 20 minutes hands-on; the rest of the work is all done in the fridge or in the oven!

Note: You can bake two more 700g / 1lb loaves from the remaining fridge dough, one on Thursday and one on Friday and have fresh, top quality artisan bread whenever you want it.

Step 1: Measuring and kneading

1. Using digital scales, weigh all the ingredients precisely. 1ml water = 1g water (1oz = 1floz), so weigh your water too.

2. Put the water in a large bowl. Add the flour, yeast and salt. Mix well, until there are no lumps. Knead for five minutes.

3. To test flour hydration and gluten development, do the ‘window check’ – pinch a bit of dough and stretch it outwards.

Under developed dough breaks easily

Properly kneaded dough will be smooth and will stretch without breaking

Step 2: First rise, folding and Flexi Point 1

1. Put the dough in a clean, oiled bowl. If you are doing the Straight Run, cover with a cloth and leave this in a warm place to rise for at least two hours, folding after the first hour as shown in the pictures below. Then go straight to Step 3.

2. Folding is often referred to as ‘punching down’ or ‘knocking back’, but there is no need to be so rough! Simply stretch the dough away from you and fold it back in towards you, then turn it around and repeat until you have folded it in four times – think of it as north, south, east, west.Finally turn the whole cushion over and return to the bowl. Folding helps redistribute the heat, gas and food for the yeasts.

Flexi Point 1

If you are doing the Fridge Fermentation or the Fridge Proving, put the bowl into a loose plastic bag and place it in the fridge (this is the retardation process). You will need to fold it after 4-8 hours, as described in 2. above,and put it back in the fridge.

3. Fridge Fermentation/Fridge Proving Methods.Leave the dough in the fridge for a total minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of four days (about 100 hours). The longer you leave it the more developed the dough will be.

Experiment with timings and see what type of bread you like best. Shorter times give a softer crumb and milder taste. Longer times give a more resilient crumb and a stronger taste.

Step 3: Scaling, pre-shaping and bench rest

Unless you are doing the Straight Run, take your dough out of the fridge. On the Straight Run, check your dough has developed sufficiently – it should have risen considerably, and feel very loose and puffy to the touch.

1. Cut and measure amount you want to use and gently pre-shape it into a ball. This shaping is soft and quite loose, using a chafing technique* to encourage a smooth membrane to appear on the surface. If the dough is very wet or sticky, use a little flour on your hands and the surfaces.

2. Leave the pre-shaped dough on your worktop to rest for 5 minutes. This is called bench-rest and allows the gluten strands to relax. If the dough is weak (sloppy) it will need less time to rest and tighter pre-shaping. If it is stronger (elastic) than it will need looser pre-shaping and a little longer rest.

  • Chafing means rotating and stretching the dough downwards with your palms and gently tucking it under itself around the edges as shown on the picture below so that it forms a ball with a very smooth outer membrane.


Step 4: Shaping and Flexi Point 2

1. Take your pre-shaped loaf and complete the shaping. For a boule (round ball) simply tighten the structure by pulling gently down, up and under, tucking the dough in on itself until it reaches the desired tension – without bursting the membrane. Set on a baking tray (dusted with semolina) to prove. Generally, as in pre-shaping, weaker doughs need more tightening than those with stronger gluten structures.

2. For a batard, form a boule as above, turn it upside down, flatten it slightly then roll into a sausage. Turn it over so that the seam is up and form a Cornish pasty, pinching to seal the seam, and mould out into a sausage shape, finally setting it seam-side down on a baking tray, or in a tin.

The sequence below shows how to shape a batard for proving in a banneton. This is particularly useful for fragile or wetter doughs that need extra support while proving in order not to ‘sprawl’.

Flatten and de-gas the dough

Fold the dough two thirds from the top and towards you.

Seal the the seam where the dough joins.

Stretch the sides and…

… fold them on top of each other. 

Notice how the dough tightens and puffs up at the same time!

Fold again, from the top all the way to the base. 

Seal the seams and tighten the loose ends by folding them inwards. 

Place the dough, with the seam* UP, into a banneton.

*The seam is where the dough joints are.

Flexi Point 2

At this point you can shape your loaf, place it in a well floured banneton, put the banneton inside a plastic bag and return it to the fridge to prove for up to 12 hours. This is an especially useful timing device as the dough will be ready to bake as soon as you take it out of the fridge. All you need to do then is skip Step 5 and go straight to Step 6 (decorating) and Step 7 (baking).

Step 5: Proving and timing

1. Place the shaped loaf , whether on its baking tray, in its tin, or in its banneton, in a warm place.

2. The picture above shows our home-built proving cupboard, but you could use an airing cupboard, or your oven (heat it up to lowest setting then switch it off before putting loaves in!). Always avoid setting your loaf on a direct source of heat (Aga/Rayburn).

3. The proving time can be anything from 45 minutes to 1 hour until the loaf is ready for baking.

How to judge when a loaf is ready to bake?

• The time – loaves that have been cooled down in a fridge, if placed in a warm place, usually take around one hour to proof/rise.

• The look – puffy looking dough that looks like marshmallow on the surface is ready for decorating and baking.

• The size – the dough will usually rise by one quarter of its original size.

• The indentation test: this gives the best information. Press the dough in various places with one finger. If the dough feels tough and the indentations spring right back, the dough is still immature. If they spring half-way and the dough feels quite puffy, then the dough is ready for the next step.

Note: It is better to under-prove rather than to over-prove your dough.

Step 6: Scoring and decorating

1. If your loaf has been rising in a basket or banneton, turn it out onto a prepared baking tray/sheet.  If you are following Fridge Proving, you can do this straight from the fridge.

2. If using, apply glaze (egg wash, oil etc.) with a brush. Scatter surface with seeds to stick to egg wash, if desired.

3. Alternatively, dredge with flour.

4. Using cookie cutters helps give a consistent ‘signature’ but take care not to press too deeply and deflate the dough. 

5. You can also score the loaf surface using a a very sharp blade (lame or grignette). When scoring take care to start lightly. It is better to first make a shallow incision and then score more deeply with several more consecutive cuts, thus avoiding dragging and pulling the dough with your blade.

Scoring a loaf turned out of a round banneton. Scoring evens out the way the dough rises in the oven (oven spring) and prevents unsightly bulges! It also makes the crumb lighter and airier. Score up to 3cm deep.

Various cuts for oblong loaves

Really short cuts are decorative and don’t have to be deep

Various cuts for round loaves

Step 7: Baking

Scoring Tip: The baguette on the left was not scored. Note how much airier the crumb is in the scored baguette on the right.

1. Place your loaves on the top shelf of your pre-heated oven for 11 minutes at 240°C / 464°F before reducing the temperature and turning the loaves around to ensure even browning. If you’re using a baking stone, heat this up with the oven.

2. The length of time in the oven will depend on the dough, and the size of the loaf. A large, 800g / 1lb 12oz dough weight will take 30 – 35 minutes total. Larger loaves need to be baked longer and more slowly. Half way through the bake reduce the temperature in the oven to around 210°C / 410°F.

3. During baking keep an eye on the loaves. If you notice that your loaves are not colouring enough than the baking temperature should be increased. If the loaves are getting brown too quickly, the baking temperature should be lowered.

4. To judge if bread is baked, check if it is browned all over, test the crispness of the crust and finally tap on the bottom to see if it sounds hollow. Your loaf will weigh between 10% and 20% lighter when it is baked, due to evaporation. Remember that bread continues cooking for a while when it first comes out of the oven.

5. Place it on a wire rack to cool so that it doesn’t go soggy.

The sound of success is the ‘singing’ loaf – the sound of crackling as the crust cools.

Music to the baker’s ears!


Storing bread is a tricky business.

The longer your loaves have had to ferment in the fridge, the longer they will  last when baked.

All bread is best eaten the day it is baked, and regular baking is better than resorting to factory breads full of fungicide etc., but for emergencies or convenience it is good to know that these breads freeze well.

Bread stored in linen or unsealed plastic bag will keep quite well for a few days. Bread stored in paper bags will retain a crisper crust. After which, there is a lot to be said for the glories of buttered toast.

7 Party Bread Recipes

The most important thing to develop when you first start baking is a feel for the dough: its consistency, ripeness, pliability and elasticity. Then you can start playing with different ingredients and additions. Artisan breads are perfect for sharing with lots of people. They make the most attractive centrepieces to dinner tables, and are natural partners to a good cheese-board. They also make wonderful gifts.

The recipes here are not set in stone – they are only the guidelines, as different flours react differently to water. So, learn your dough, make it wetter rather than dryer, and feel free to adjust the given quantities to get the dough consistency you desire. You can do the same with nuts, cheese,fruits etc. so long as you remember not to overcrowd the dough, which will prevent it from rising properly and make a very heavy, soggy loaf.

The general rule with all additional ingredients is to add them after you have mixed and kneaded the dough, that is, at the end of the Step 1. While basic dough will keep in fridge for up to five days, dough with extra ingredients will only keep in the fridge for up to two days.

For more inspiring recipes please see our book A Million and One Original Bread Recipes.

Note: The percentage for extra ingredients is in relation to the amount of flour and not of the dough.

Cheese & Onion Bread

1000g / 2lb 3.2oz Basic dough (any of the four will work)

250g / 9oz Parmesan or cheddar or gruyère cheese (or a combination) – 2 cups

50g / 1.7oz Onion – ½ cup

1 tsp Ground cumin

1 tsp Ground black pepper

3 tbs Fresh parsley

Grate the cheese and fine dice the onion. Place them into a bowl. Sprinkle chopped parsley, ground cumin and black pepper on top and mix it all together.

Flatten your dough and spread your mixture of ingredients evenly on top of it. Fold the dough over on itself and keep folding until you can knead the dough and everything is fully incorporated.

Although it may look as if the cheese will never be absorbed by the dough, it only takes a few minutes of kneading to fully mix it in.

Follow the other 6 steps as in the main basic bread recipe except that you’ll need to bake this one for 45 minutes on 200C.

7 Seeded Loaf

1000g / 2lb 3.2oz Basic Dough (Wholemeal or with Rye)

210g / 7oz Seeds (lightly toasted)* - 1¾ cups

50g / 1.7oz Honey ½ cup

[Seed toast*]

Sunflower seeds 30g / 1.3oz / ¼ cup

Onion seeds 30g / 0.7oz / ¼ cup

Millet 30g / 1oz / ¼ cup

Flax seeds (Linseeds) 30g / 0.7oz / ¼ cup

Pumpkin seeds 30g / 1.3oz / ¼ cup

Sesame seeds 30g / 1oz / ¼ cup

Poppy seeds 30g / 0.7oz / ¼ cup

For other seed combinations please see Adding Seeds to Your Recipes.

Add honey to the dough at the beginning of the step one – when you’re mixing the basic ingredients.

Flatten your dough and spread the seeds evenly on top of it. Fold the dough over on itself and keep folding until you can knead the dough and everything is fully incorporated.

Follow the other 6 steps as in the basic bread recipe.

Decorate with egg wash – beat an egg and brush on a layer on top of the dough. Sprinkle with sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds.

Tomato, Pesto and Garlic Bread

1000g / 2lb 3.2oz Basic Dough (White)

50g / 1.7oz Basil Pesto / ½ cup

70g / 2.5oz Tomato Paste / ¾ cup

or 100g / 3.5oz fresh tomatoes (peeled and finely chopped) / 1 cup

3g / ½tsp Celery Seeds

30g / 1oz Garlic – peeled and chopped / ½ cup

2g / 2tbs Torn Fresh Basil Leaves

3g / ½tsp Pepper

Flatten your dough and spread the pesto, tomato paste (or fresh tomatoes), garlic, celery salt, basil and pepper on top of it. Fold the dough over on itself and keep folding until you can knead the dough and everything is fully incorporated.

Follow the other 6 steps as in the main basic bread recipe.

Chef’s Mushroom Bread

1000g / 2lb 3.2oz Basic Dough (White or Wholemeal)

150g / 5.3oz Mushrooms (diced) / 1¼ cup

50g / 1.7oz Shallots (diced) / 1 cup

20g / 2tbsp Garlic (finely chopped)

10g / 3tbs Parsley (finely chopped)

3g / ½tsp Pepper corns (crushed)

Sauté the mushrooms in butter. Drain the liquid and use it when mixing the basic dough. Make sure you reduce the water in basic dough by 50ml.

Mix all the other ingredients together with mushrooms in a bowl. Flatten your dough and spread the mixture evenly on top of it. Fold the dough over on itself and keep folding until you can knead the dough and everything is fully incorporated.

Follow the other 6 steps exactly as in the main basic bread recipe.

Cocoa Delight

500g / 1lb 1.8oz Flour

100g / 3.5oz Dark chocolate / 1 cup

30g / 1oz Cocoa / ¼ cup

200g / 7floz Milk / 1 cup

150g / 5.3floz Water / ¾ cup

30g / 1oz Honey / ¼ cup

50g / 1.7oz Butter / ½ cup

12g / 2tsp Salt

6g / 1tsp Quick dry yeast

Mix the flour with the cocoa powder and crushed chocolate in a large bowl. Add salt and yeast and mix it all together. In a saucepan, warm the milk and melt the butter and the honey into it. Add water to the milk and pour it over the flour and mix into a dough.

Follow the Seven Steps as in the basic bread recipe. When baking, you may prefer to over-bake it slightly to intensify the chocolate taste.

Please note: if you want to use fridge method decrease the amount of yeast by flour times.

Date and Apricot Breakfast Bread

1000g / 2lb 3.2oz Basic Dough (any of the four basics)

100g / 3.5oz Dates / 1 cup

100g / 3.5oz Dried apricots / 1 cup

100g / 3.5oz Cashews / 1 cup

30g / 1oz Honey / ¼ cup

6g / 2tsp Coriander seeds (crushed)

Cut the dates in half and chop the cashew nuts. Mix in a bowl with the honey and the crushed coriander seeds with them.

At the end of the Step 1 flatten your pre-made dough, spread the mix on top of it. Fold the dough over on itself and keep folding until you can knead the dough and everything is fully incorporated.

Follow the other 6 steps exactly as in the main basic bread recipe.

Oats, Barley Malt & Ginger

1000g / 2lb 3.2oz Basic Dough White

150g / 5.3oz Oats 1¼ cups

60g / 2oz Barley Malt or Honey / ½ cup

20g / 2 tbsp Fresh ginger, finely chopped

Mix the honey during the Step 1 when mixing the basic dough ingredients.

Mix the oats, honey and ginger in the bowl.

At the end of the Step 1, once you have finished kneading the dough, flatten it and spread the oat and ginger mixture on top of it. Fold the dough over on itself and keep folding until you can knead the dough and everything is fully incorporated.

Follow the other 6 Steps exactly as in the main basic bread recipe.

For more inspiring recipes please see our book A Million and One Original Bread Recipes

Essential Tips for Better Baking

Life in a mixing bowl (and how to control it!)

Combining your four ingredients produces a variety of powerful reactions. Once they encounter water, the two flour proteins, gliadin and glutenin, begin to form long strands of gluten that give shape and volume to bread – these are visible to the naked eye, and have an elastic quality. Given enough time and the right temperature, the bacteria and the enzymes start to work with the yeast, producing carbon dioxide which inflates the dough and various acids and alcohol, which add taste.

Controlling Taste

• The taste is probably the most important thing to cultivate when making bread, and simply put, the longer the bulk fermentation time (rising), the more taste will be developed. The optimal temperature for fermenting the dough on The Straight Run is around 23°C.  For Fridge Fermentation and Fridge Proving, the temperature should be around 5°C.

• By reducing the dough temperature in our fridge method, we allow a much longer time for the dough to develop. Using the fridge method also adds time flexibility to your bread making so that you can fit it into your busy life.

• Quicker loaves (from 2 to 3 hours fermentation) require more kneading to develop the gluten strands in the beginning, because they won’t have time to do it themselves later on. There will be less flavour, weaker textures, and a shorter shelf-life, but the volume will usually be high.

• Slower loaves (anything from 4 to 88 hours fermentation) demand less initial kneading and have more taste, chewier texture, better looks and a longer shelf life. The longer fermentation allows the sugars to develop further, creating a more caramelised crust.

Controlling Crumb, Texture and size

• The longer the dough has to develop, the better the crumb texture and the volume of the bread will be.

• Mixing, kneading, folding and shaping techniques (see Essential Techniques) help strengthen and organise the network of gluten strands in the dough. This network is responsible for holding the gases produced by the yeast, and thus maintaining the volume – i.e. no bursting bubbles.

• To further develop the gluten strands, we first knead the dough, let it rest (ferment) for a number of hours, folding it a number of times during fermentation in order to strengthen the dough, redistribute the yeast and re-balance the temperature in the dough.

• Salt will make for chewier crumb. The amount of salt in your recipe will influence the quality of your crumb (2% is ideal).

• A dough with a strong, well-developed gluten structure will be both extensible (the dough’s ability to stretch) and elastic (the ability of the dough to spring back to its original shape).

Controlling Crust

• Sugars present in flour and malt, combined with salt, will give the crust colour and crunchiness. Some flours are richer in natural sugars and even white bread made from those flours will be quite dark in appearance

• Time: The longer the fermentation time, the more sugars will be created on the surface of the dough and the darker the finished loaf will be

• Salt helps make crunchy crusts. The amount of salt in your recipe will influence the quality of your crust.

• High baking temperatures and steam in the oven will give depth and crispness to the crust

• Different finishes – flour, seeds, egg wash, honey or oil all produce different crust characteristics. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Controlling Shape

• Once you have perfected the shaping of your loaf, you will need to control what happens to it in the oven, when the heat produces a final burst of energy from the dough and, ideally, ‘oven spring’ – the extra rise you get from a well-proven loaf.

• A very important aspect of shape, crust and crumb control is the ‘scoring’. Scoring (see Essential Techniques) has the function of directing the energies left within the mature and proven dough, and avoiding random, clumsy bursts or bulges of dough.

• For crusty, chewy breads, hotter and faster baking is better than cooler and slower baking.

• The main reasons for bread splitting are either it was too tightly shaped, or it was under-proved.

• If a loaf is under-baked it will still be soggy inside, if it is over-baked it will be too dry in its crumb and crust and it will have a shorter shelf life.

• Steaming makes loaves grow bigger and make crunchier crust. We do not recommend this method in the domestic ovens that are not made to cope with too much steam.

Essential Techniques

You will find the links at the end of this book to very good online films demonstrating all these techniques.


It is vital to learn the skill of shaping the dough before proving it. Shaping is about organising the gluten network to form a smooth, tight skin on the outer surface of the dough and a loaf that will retain its shape through the last proving stage, as well as survive when faced with the extreme oven temperatures. The result of good shaping is that the dough will capture the gases from fermentation by stretching, and not breaking under their pressure, giving us a well-rounded, tight and voluminous final loaf.

Four key reasons for shaping the dough properly:

• better look

• better crust

• better crumb

• better volume

This stage is often the most overlooked, and we recommend you practise as much as you can to produce the perfect boules (balls) and batards (oblongs). Notice that shaping is still just as important when you are baking bread in a tin, because it’s the tightening of the dough structure that makes all the difference to a well-risen loaf.


Chafing means rotating and stretching the dough downwards with your palms and gently tucking it under itself around the edges so that it forms a ball with a very smooth outer membrane.


This is the ‘final rise’ of the shaped loaf. As a rule you will need to 'catch' your loaf at around 80% of its maximum rise. The remaining 20% will rise in the oven. If you place a 100% risen loaf into the oven it will rise over its limits, bubbles within it will be bursting and the loaf will collapse as the result.

If the loaf has been over-proved, there will be excessive gas production, and the small bubbles of air will start to join up, forming hollow channels that undermine the gluten structure and again, your loaf will collapse.

It is better to put an under-proved loaf in the oven than an over-proved one, but in either case you must pay special attention to the scoring part of the finishing process.


Perhaps the most important aspect of decoration in many loaves, scoring also has the function of directing the energies left within the mature and proven dough, and avoiding random, unsightly bursts or bulges of dough.

Scoring the loaves gives:

• pleasing appearance

• control of crust break

• even crumb

• better expansion of bread

• identity – your own signature on the loaf


Some people choose to put a tray of water in the bottom of their ovens to create steam. This results in:

• better volume

• crisper, thicker crust

• better overall look (no unseemly bursts)

• better crumb

The steam will create a hot and humid environment for your loaf (in domestic ovens mainly at the top part of the oven). The humidity coats the loaf with moisture and stops the crust from hardening before the loaf can complete its expansion. The steam helps the gelatinization of starches in the crust, creating extra sugars on the surface and a crisp and golden crust.

Warning: We do not recommend this method for domestic ovens as they are not built to handle too much steam. If you do use steam it is entirely at your own discretion.

Essential Baking Terms


Fermentation is all about increasing the volume of the dough and increasing its acid levels to improve the flavour, without necessarily making it a sourdough. Mastering fermentation is the key skill in bread-making as it determines the look, taste and keeping qualities of the loaf. Fermentation gives the yeast, enzymes and bacteria time to do their best work. They will produce carbon dioxide, various acids and alcohol, strengthen the gluten strands, and add gas to the dough and character to its taste.

Over-fermentation means your final loaf will not have so much volume. When the dough is baked the crust will brown faster due to sugars caramelizing too quickly and the scores will not open properly. If fermentation is too short, the dough will not be aerated properly, it will lack strength, the baked colour will be dull and again, the scores will not open well.


Retarding the dough is one of the best ways to control fermentation. If the temperature is lower than the optimum 25°C then the fermentation will slow down. The lower the temperature, the longer the fermentation time will be (as shown in our Fridge Fermentation and Fridge Proving modes of baking). Retardation can produce excellent results as, while it slows down the action of the yeast, it gives the enzymes and bacteria more time to mature. Its disadvantage is that if you leave the dough too long to ferment, the protease enzyme will start to break down the precious gluten strands (your dough’s muscle) and the taste and volume of your loaf will suffer.


Hydration is also vital in controlling fermentation. Dryer doughs ferment at a slower rate. However, dryer doughs tend to develop a more acid taste than wetter doughs. Also dryer doughs tend to have stronger gluten structure and therefore denser crumb.

The yeast must be regulated to control how fast dough rises, but the bacteria, primarily, determine how well your dough will mature and how good the bread will taste.


Allows the gluten strands to relax and re-align, making it much easier for you when it comes to the final shaping. It is really worth taking the time to perform this step.


If you are making a whole batch of loaves, remember the order you weigh and pre-shape them in by arranging them on a surface and applying FIFO: First In First Out. (This is a mnemonic for baking order, but applies equally to weighing and shaping, simply because the first portion you weigh will be the most relaxed to start pre-shaping with.)

Maillard Effect.

The colour of the crust comes from the Maillard reaction, which causes changes to proteins and caramelisation of the sugars. The longer a dough has had to ferment, the more intense the Maillard effect will be.

Adding Seeds to Your Recipes

Seeds from bottom to top – pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, blue poppy, millet and brown linseed

For added favour, texture and goodness we add seeds to our breads. They need to be soaked prior to mixing and kneading the dough. Soaking the seeds brings flavour out of them, makes them more digestible, stops them from taking water out of your dough and softens them up so that they don’t cut through the air bubbles within the dough.

For each recipe soak up to 4 types of seeds. Put the seeds into a bowl, pour water over your mix, add salt to taste, stir and cover. Soaking time is minimum 2 hours and up to 16 hours. If the time is shorter than 6 hours you can add hot water instead of cold.

Seed Varieties

These are some of the seeds that you can combine according to your taste to use in the marked recipes below:

Flax/Linseed Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Sesame Seeds

Rolled Oats

Black Onion Seeds

Poppy Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds


Instead of soaking you may want to lightly toast your seeds for that nutty toasted taste.

When decorating with seeds, beat an egg and brush the surface of the dough with it and then sprinkle the surface with a one or several types of seeds.

Seed Combinations

You can buy already mixed seeds, but we suggest you make your own mix of seeds that you like in the proportions that you may like. For instance to make a kilogram of a seed mix you may want to combine following:

Flax/Linseed Seeds 20%

Sunflower Seeds 30%

Sesame Seeds 30%

Pumpkin Seeds 20%


Millet 30%

Black Onion Seeds 20%

Rolled Oats 30%

Sesame Seeds 20%


Flax/Linseed Seeds 20%

Sunflower Seeds 40%

Sesame Seeds 20%

Pumpkin Seeds 20%


Rolled Oats 20%

Black Onion Seeds 10%

Pumpkin Seeds 35%

Millet 35%

…and so on according to your preferences…



We work mainly with organic heritage flour, which is flour that has not been meddled with! It comes from ancient wheat varieties and it comes from ancient varieties of wheat that have not been super-hybridised in order to get higher yields. Our customers who have some problems with eating bread often tell us that they enjoy our breads without any digestive problems.

Otherwise we recommend organic strong bread flours.

Ordinary Wheat Flour (strong bread flour)

Heritage Wheat Flour


Advantages of organic heritage flours over common modern wheat flour are:

Much healthier – simpler proteins are easier to digest

Richer in goodness


Supporting ethical food production


Less dynamic gluten – so it is harder to get the dough to rise


All life depends on water. In general, the more water you add, the livelier your dough will be and the airier the crumb in the final loaf. Some breads demand up to 85% hydration (water) in comparison to the flour weight, but 60% to 75 % is more common. We believe it is important to use mineral or filtered water in baking, as the chlorine and chemicals present in tap water negatively affect the yeast.


Yeasts are spores that belong to the fungi kingdom. Wild yeasts (Saccharomyces exiguus) are naturally present in the growing grain, the flour and the air. A mixture of flour and water left on its own will eventually start to ferment thanks to the yeast. Baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) was first produced commercially about 200 years ago, and can be purchased in blocks of putty-like substance from supermarkets or local bakeries, although some manufacturers are using GMO ingredients, so check your sources. If you find organic fresh yeast, use double the quantity given for Quick Dry Yeast in our recipes.


If yeast is the accelerator in dough, then salt serves the function of the brakes. It controls the activity of the yeast, strengthens the dough structure, and of course adds essential flavour.

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Other Books by The Artisan Bakery School

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Building a Wood Fired Oven in a Day

Short and sweet, this book is for anyone who’s dreamed of baking bread or pizza in their own outdoors woodfired oven, but always lacked the space, the skills to build one or the funds to buy one.

The Mini Wood Fired Oven costs less than a £100 to build. Its footprint is just one metre square, it is fantastically simple to make, and you don’t have to make room to store it in your shed when the first frost comes.

Inspired by an ancient Croatian baking method, Dragan built the Mini Wood Fired Oven in our garden at The Artisan Bakery School in just one day. It makes a beautifully versatile alternative to the full-size wood fired oven we use to bake breads and make pizzas for the village.

  • Takes 1 hour to reach baking temperature

  • Requires very little wood

  • Lends fabulous, smokey character to food

  • Can be used for breads, pizzas, baked spuds, casseroles and even barbecued food

  • Building a Wood Fired Oven in a Day includes full plans,dimensions, photographs, lists of materials and tools, step-by-step building instructions, and explanations on how to best use your oven.

A Million and One Original Bread Recipes

There are more potential recipes for brilliant breads than there are games of chess or atoms in the known universe!

This breakthrough book from The Artisan Bakery School not only shows you how to make great breads, but how to successfully develop original recipes of your own.

  • Make authentic artisan breads following our simple Seven Steps, fully illustrated with tips and techniques for improving the taste and looks of your loaves.

  • Learn proportions for incorporating 100 different nuts, seeds, fruits, veg, cheeses, meats, herbs and spices etc.

  • Successfully combine ingredients to balance flavours and textures

  • Choose the right flours for different loaves

  • Create stunning original recipes of your own

  • Including over 50 recipe suggestions developed by The Artisan Bakery School plus details of our seven star performers.

An inspiration for adventurous bakers of any level!

Baking Real Sourdough Bread

Wild sourdough magic at your fingertips!

Written by two passionate artisan bakers and teachers, this book dispels the myth that sourdough is difficult and time-consuming to make. It shows how to fit regular baking into even the craziest lifestyle by using an ordinary fridge and the principle of retardation – or ‘slo-mo’ dough.

Packed with clear explanations and helpful photographs the book shows:

  • The Seven Steps to creating truly exceptional artisan loaves

  • How to create, manage and maintain a wild yeast leaven

  • How to choose and use the best flours

  • The secrets of long fermentation

  • Tips on improving the look, taste and texture of your loaves.

  • Insights on managing the three T’s: Timing, Temperature and Technique

  • How to bake sourdough that tastes the way you want it to – from milky to truly tart

  • Includes original recipes from The Artisan Bakery School.

A handbook for anyone reaching for a real life-skill.

Perfect Pizza

Friday nights are pizza nights at The Artisan Bakery School, where we sell wood fired pizzas for locals to take away. Our experience of making, shaping and baking great pizza, and teaching these skills to our students, is now available in this short, fully illustrated handbook for budding pizzaristas.


  • The Seven Steps to making the perfect pizza dough

  • How to manage refrigeration so your dough will wait for you, not the other way around

  • Techniques for shaping your dough into perfect circles without a rolling pin

  • Tips for creating your own signature sauce

  • Hints on how best to dress your pizza

  • The secrets of the tarte flambée

  • How to get the very best out of your home gas or electric oven, for crispy crust and delectably tender dough

A handbook for anyone reaching for a real life-skill.

Baking Low Gluten & Heritage Breads

As the tide of people suffering with sensitivities to modern wheat and gluten continues to rise, the need for a fresh approach to baking bread is obvious.

Through clear text and pictures, this book shows you how to bake beautiful, nutritious artisan loaves using low gluten and heritage flours and a natural, wild yeast leaven. The Artisan Bakery School’s Seven Steps method makes the baking ultra simple, while the gourmet recipes will inspire you to show off to your friends.


  • Why heritage flours are better for your body

  • How to make a range of rich and characterful breads in seven easy steps

  • How to make and manage consistently healthy wild yeast starters

  • Tips for improving the looks, taste and texture of every bread you bake

  • How to choose, source and combine various heritage flours

  • To control the three Ts: timing, temperature, technique

  • The best ways to use seeds

If you care about what you eat, this book is for you!

The Microbakery Blueprint

This book is a practical guide to turning your bread-making into a successful microbakery business. Focusing on Dragan and Penny’s start-up bakery in the tiniest house in Oxford, UK, and going on to the success of The Artisan Bakery School in Devon, The Microbakery Business Blueprint gives all the nitty-gritty details of running a baking business from home.

  • The local legal requirements: Environmental Health, licences etc.

  • How to start trading with minimum initial investment – just one oven!

  • Getting a handle on finances, branding and marketing

  • How to cost and price your breads

  • Business development and the importance of growing organically

  • Setting a baking schedule to match your stamina

If you like the idea of being able to manage your own time, earning a living ethically and contributing to your local community, this book is for you.

For details on how to make good bread, see the Artisan Bakery School companion volumes: Artisan Bread for Beginners or Baking Real Sourdough Bread, A Million and One Original Bread Recipes and Baking Low Gluten Sourdough Bread.

The Micropizzeria Blueprint

The Micropizzeria Blueprint, and its companion volume Perfect Pizza, are the most recent books from The Artisan Bakery School. Together, they show how almost “anyone with a kitchen and a phone” can learn to be a pizzarista, and run a takeaway pizza business from home, or from a mobile pizza van. Practical advice includes:

  • Compliance with local legal requirements

  • The basics of finances, branding and marketing

*Choosing and using your oven: wood fired or professional stone-baker

  • Costing initial outlay on equipment

  • Planning your work area

  • Costing and pricing your pizzas

  • Lists of equipment and suppliers

Having built a wood fired oven, Dragan and Penny now sell takeaway pizza from The Artisan Bakery School every week and it’s becoming increasingly popular. Properly made pizza is certainly ‘fast’ food, but it can also be healthy, exciting, ethically produced and a runaway success for you too. This book shows you how!

About The Artisan Bakery School

The Artisan Bakery School is devoted to outstanding real breads and pizzas.

Run by Penny and Dragan at their 200-year old cottage in rural Devon, England, the School also serves the village of Sparkwell as a bakery / pizzeria. We have baked bread for our local gastronomic restaurant, ran by the winner of the UK Masterchef 2012, Anton Piotrowsky.

We are passionate about passing on the basic life-skill of baking real bread to as many people as possible; for their health, for their happiness, and because it’s great fun! We have taught students of every age from 3 to 83, from all over the world and every walk of life. We were also one of the first schools in the country to offer a Microbakery / Micropizzeria Business courses.

Our special interests are in heritage flours and heirloom techniques, including baking in a real wood fired oven, or using the ancient Croatian method of baking ‘under the bell’.

Dragan and Penny also run Pendragan Publishing and are authors of a number of fictional books.

We’d love to hear from you!

Contact Us

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[email protected]

To find out more about our one-day and residential courses, our woodfired pizza parties or our workshops-on-wheels, please visit:


About Dragan

Dragan’s story

“My fascination with breadmaking was born of necessity in the mid seventies, when I first arrived in this country. The bread in England then was, and still largely is, fast to produce and chemically induced. No wonder that today we have such a huge number of people suffering from bread allergies.

Coming from a macho culture, barely able to fry an egg, I was forced to learn how to bake a decent loaf, just to survive.

But my really passionate quest for the perfect loaf began later on in my life. Wanting to learn absolutely everything about what makes dough work, I picked up tips from master bakers everywhere, as well as trying one thousand and one ways of making bread.

The answer was to ditch everything but the essentials (good flour, clean water, salt and yeast) and give it all plenty of time.

Today, to make my perfect loaf, I prefer to use heritage flours (or gluten free flour), coupled with the time-honoured method of long fermentation, which makes delicious and beautiful breads that are also good for health.

I use mainly sourdough retardation method because it is dead easy (15 minutes hands on) and produces the best tasting loaves. My dough takes between 12 and 144 hours to develop and each loaf is carefully hand-crafted. That’s why I call my loaves ‘artisan’.

My greatest pleasure is when people come to us saying that they can eat bread again, because properly fermented dough is easy to digest. Or our students telling us that after the course with us they have never bought another loaf of bread again!”

Apart from baking Dragan does magic shows for all ages and writes books for children.

About Penny

Penny was fortunate enough to have a mother and two grandmothers who were all great cooks, and happy to have their kids in the kitchen. The teaching came almost by osmosis.

As a three-year old Penny remembers coming in from the garden to poke a curious, muddy finger into a mesmerising pillow of white dough rising in a bowl and squeaking with guilty alarm at the grubby dent she had made. To her astonishment, the dent disappeared, just as her laughing mother said it would. Penny’s lifelong passion for creating good food made it natural for her to bake bread, but it wasn’t until she met Dragan that she really developed those skills.

The Rise of Real Bread Conference in 2009 was her first encounter with the artisan bakers, millers, farmers, scientists, ecologists, writers and activists that are fighting for a better loaf on Britain’s tables. It was a watershed moment.

Penny says “We can only change the way people bake and think about bread one person at a time. But if we do it often enough, for long enough, we will contribute to positive change. That’s our reason for being.

But the most fun part of The Artisan Bakery School is running the weekend courses. It’s all about making people feel at home, preparing something special for them at every meal, gathering round the table, or round the fire, enjoying a glass of wine and telling stories after dinner. You wouldn’t believe how many amazing tales our bakers have to tell!”

Apart from being a baker Penny is a professional copywriter and an author of a number of fictional books, both for children and adults.


Dragan and Penny offer Skype consultations, at a fee, on any aspect of the book.

We also do book editing, translation and copywriting services.

Contact Us

[email protected]


Useful Links

Here are some you tube links that will help you to understand the key technique of folding, pre-shaping and shaping the bread dough.

Also some tips on decorating and cutting.

Dividing and pre-shaping

Main bread-shaping techniques

Wet dough shaping

Shaping a round loaf

Shaping and cutting a batard

Shaping a batard

Great cuts!

Using stencils to decorate bread

Artisan Bread for Beginners

Artisan bread is often sourdough, but beginners can achieve very impressive results without using a sourdough culture. The secret is in a process called retardation – or ‘slo-mo’dough. This book shows you how to use your fridge so you can fit baking authentic artisan bread into even the most hectic lifestyle. It includes: * Our proven Seven Steps method for reliable results every time * Illustrations of all the steps, backed up with clear explanations * Insights into the three Ts: timing, temperature and technique * Tips on improving the look, taste and texture of your loaves. * Ideas for using fruits, nuts and seeds to create an impressive selection of wonderful, original breads * Original recipes developed by The Artisan Bakery School A handbook for anyone reaching for a real life-skill.

  • ISBN: 9781311691477
  • Author: Pendragan
  • Published: 2015-11-06 12:05:17
  • Words: 10105
Artisan Bread for Beginners Artisan Bread for Beginners