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Basic Hearth Bread – Making my first loaf of bread

making hearth bread

I always put making bread from scratch into the too hard basket. The thought of standing there and kneading dough for 30 minutes really put me off, not to mention the long rising times and the age old dispute about sourdough vs fresh yeast vs dry yeast. It was just easier to go to my local artisan bakery and buy a loaf for a few dollars. It only takes about 30 minutes to walk there and back.

That all changed a few months ago when I discovered CityHippyFarmGirl. She made gorgeous luscious loaves and it inspired me to begin my own sourdough starter. I did some research and settled on a recipe from one of my favourite food writers. I purchased organic rye flour and organic bread flour and followed the recipe as closely as possible. It failed on the fifth day. It stopped bubbling and emitted a vomit-like odour. I threw the entire thing in the bin and decided that I don’t eat bread often enough to justify maintaining a starter.

Then my friend Richard recently began Project Sourdough. It made me think that perhaps I needed to build my confidence. Starting with sourdough was probably too ambitious for someone that had little experience. I started to flick through Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. Her chatty and friendly prose inspired me to create the Basic Hearth Bread. It uses instant dried yeast and is part white and wholemeal. The process was labour intensive and time consuming but I was rewarded with an amazing loaf of bread which was so much better than anything that came out of a bread machine. It is not yet as good as the stuff I buy from the artisan bakery but with patience and practice I think I will get there.

wholemeal bread flour recipe wholemeal bread sourdough Basic Hearth Bread

The recipe uses a sponge starter consisting of bread flour, wholemeal flour and water with the addition of some honey and a touch of instant yeast. It is then covered in a blanket of bread flour and yeast and left to sleep in the fridge overnight.

rose levy beranbaum the bread bible rustic artisan loaf sponge starter sourdough wholemeal bread flour water yeast instant dry dried fresh compressed honey salt rose levy beranbaum the bread bible rustic artisan loaf sponge starter sourdough rose levy beranbaum the bread bible rustic artisan loaf sourdoughIt is then taken out in the morning and left to sit for an hour to come to room temperature. The sponge has bubbled through the blanket of flour and cracks show.

The sponge is then mixed with the flour blanket and is kneaded and risen three times before it is slashed and placed in the hot oven. Some ice was included in a tray at the bottom of the oven.

sourdough recipe

After I had baked my bread I realised that my dough was not risen enough when I slashed it which explains why the dough dragged when I was slicing my way through it.

making sourdough

The loaf grew and bumps started to show on the side. The middle slash tore through and the loaf turned a deep brown. When it was taken out of the oven the loaf crackled and popped and I clapped my hands and danced. The crust was firm and the crumb was chewy. It was the best tasting bread I had ever made!

I had become so excited by this experience that I decided to try creating a sourdough starter again. This time I’m using another method. It is now a week old and survived the dreaded fifth day.

I am submitting this to Yeastspotting

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  1. Sneh | Cook Republic

    It looks delightful .. warm, rustic, hearty! Well done on your beautiful first loaf!! I am very inspired 🙂

  2. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Amy, this rustic bread looks fantastic! I love hard bread most and this one looks nicely moist inside. I wish this will be my breakfast when I wake up…. If we live close each other, I will bother you to teach me how to make this “together”. 😉 Have a great weekend!

  3. Maris (In Good Taste)

    Your first loaf is a major success!

  4. Richard Elliot

    Go Amy!!!

    The bread looks amazing. I’m sure you’ll be making loaves as good as the artisan bakeries in no time. I’ve been buying the odd loaf from Sonoma, Brasserie Bread, Bourke St Bakery etc.. and I eat them in a different way now, analysing the crust and flavour.

    I’ve got a good vision of what I want to bake now and I’m improving every loaf. Baking bread definitely draws you in!

    If you need any advice left me know. Although I’ve learnt everything I know from Brydie, so you might be better off asking her! 😉

  5. OohLookBel

    Best of luck with your starter – it’s like raising a baby, isn’t it? The loaf looks utterly fantastic.

  6. yummychunklet

    This looks like a fantastic first attempt! Great post!

  7. Heidi @ Food Doodles

    So exciting! 😀 I love making my own bread and can’t wait for the weather to cool down to start another sourdough starter – I killed mine when it started to get hot 🙁 Your bread still looks great! That’s the awesome thing about homemade bread too, even if it’s not perfect it usually always tastes good 😀 I think that’s an awesome first attempt!

  8. Peachie

    Definitely a great 1st attempt and don’t you just love the smell of freshly baked bread? especially one coming straight from your oven?

  9. apronless

    Oh, I love Beranbaum and I LOVE this recipe!

    I, too, killed a sourdough starter. Don’t feel too bad. 😉

  10. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts

    I’ve also been following CityHippyFarmgirl’s bread with great interest, but been too hesitant to jump into sourdough myself. So thank you – it’s good to see there is hope for complete novices!

  11. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Amy, now how good does that look!
    Awesome looking first loaf, and I’m really pleased you are giving the starter another crack. I’m sure this one will be fine 🙂

    From playing with my doughs, I find if I rub a bit of flour on to the top of the shaped dough, it drys it out just a touch while proving and then doesn’t stretch when slashing. Quick slashes too… pretend you are a surgeon!

  12. Dwiana

    thank you for stopping by to my blog, I’ve been reading through most of your posting. They look just wonderful. Definitely I’ll be back soon!

  13. Lynda

    Congratulations – your bread looks beautiful!

  14. TasteHongKong

    I understand the excitements, happy for you!

  15. Ameena

    I have never had good luck attempting bread so I pretty much gave up. So I am in awe that you pulled this amazing loaf out of your kitchen! It looks divine.

  16. Joyti

    I’m going to be joining you soon, in that I too will be making my first loaf of bread – since I recently got a stand mixer.
    Your first attempt looks marvelous – so airy and perfect.

  17. Kulsum at JourneyKitchen

    This certainly doesn’t look like a first time rustic loaf bread. To me it looks perfect! I have done easier bread like rolls, pull a parts, buns but been intimidated by rustic breads. You are inspiring me! Can’t wait t read about the sourdough starter

  18. Heavenly Housewife

    Beautifully done. There is nothing as satisfying as your own baked bread, and the smell that accompanies it is just heaven!
    *kisses* HH

  19. Angie@Angiesrecipes

    That’s one perfect artisan loaf! Well done!

  20. Stevie

    You’re totally right, homemade bread is in the hardest category in my kitchen, too. I want desperately to learn but am put off by all the apparent work and trial and error. You’re inspiring.

  21. Karen

    Hi Amy, I just discovered your lovely blog (your recipes and photos are mouthwatering!). I can’t believe this is your first loaf of bread – it looks amazing!

  22. betty

    wow, what an amazing experiment! im scared to make bread as well, it just seems like too much effort and time, i’ll just stick to store brought bread 🙂

  23. Rachel K

    This looks absolutely brilliant! I’ve never been that successful with sourdough starters, so I go down the “old dough” route . . . the only downside is that I have to put notes to myself around the kitchen every time I bake a loaf to remind myself to keep a nugget of dough back to put into the next batch!

  24. Juliana

    Wow, for a first time baking bread, you are doing exceptional! The bread looks delicious, crusty outside and soft inside.
    Hope you are having a fantastic week 🙂

  25. Bonnie at sweet life

    great job!!! for a first timer, you did a whole lot better than I did!! lol

  26. Digital Printing

    You really made it on your own?Wow I’m so proud of you. I’m not into baking but I tried a couple of times but I failed. Baking is really difficult. You did a great job! High five to that!

  27. peachkins

    It’s my first time here and I love your photo!

  28. Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™

    honey! yes! how smart and delicious. Your loaf came out lovely, but I suppose that only makes sense after all the research you did!

  29. Deb

    Inspiring post. I haven’t tried bread for awhile. But I may start soon as my brother is sending me flour he grinds in his own mill. I am hoping my bread will be as good as his flour. Thanks for sharing.

  30. erin

    Oh, I love homemade bread! It’s the best! I love the little fabric as well. You always use the cutest fabrics!

  31. Stevie

    You’re really inspiring me here. I want to learn to make Tartine bread and I have the cookbook at home. I’m just anxous about the whole starter thing.

  32. Jon V

    Lovely looking bread an photos, too. Have you tried the no-knead method using a cast iron pot? It was really easy and my bread came out amazing. Check it out if you haven’t! Here is my writeup about it: http://www.vodkitchen.com/2010/10/04/the-bread/


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