Dan Lepard, my first loaf, and the value of fail-safe instructions

My highlight of the Guardian Festival yesterday was Dan Lepard, regular baking columnist for the Saturday Guardian. In a packed room he gave five golden rules for successful bread baking. Listening intently, having never baked a loaf myself before, his directions seemed so clear and his approach so straightforward that I just wanted to go home and bake.
In this instance I think I probably fall into that category of learner who knows so little about baking that I needed clear steps to build my confidence, and it serves as a good reminder of how important it is to prepare a clear message when working with learners who lack confidence. As soon as members of the audience, clearly with more advanced ‘kneads’ (ha ha), chimed in with their clever questions about complicated stuff, I tried not to listen, so as not to lose that clarity of thought the presenter had given me.
And so I present my first loaves. May they be the first of many…

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3 Replies to “Dan Lepard, my first loaf, and the value of fail-safe instructions”

  1. Nice start dude! You are definitely right to filter all the noise out of focussing on getting the basics right. Just looking at the structure of the dough that is bursting out of those cuts, you obviously managed to do just that. Let’s not dwell on the shape though…. :o) Rx

    1. Thanks mate. Er yeah, the shape needs a bit of work. Another four loaves on Tuesday I reckon. And of course while Dan Lepard’s talk yesterday led to this pique of enthusiasm, I was mightily impressed by your baking efforts in Switzerland last year.

  2. Oliver, congratulations on making the leap into baking your own bread. At this stage, you’re right ot keep it simple and filter out the “white noise”: get the basic recipe, the flavour, the degree to which you let the dough rise, and the baking time right, then go for the refinements. With a little guidance and the assurance that experience brings, you’ll soon be on top of things like shaping. When the time is right (if I might be permitted a quick bit of promotion), you might find some of Dan’s books helpful, in providing you with advice and step-by-step photos of the shaping process – The Handmade Loaf and the latest (soft cover) edition of Baking With Passion would both give you some help there. Short & Sweet probably has the most “accessible” recipes, but not the step-by-step photos.

    But most of all, well done!

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