Week 28: Lean bread

A friend of mine has recently started calorie counting and has been bombarding me with tonnes of information about fats, calories and the like. So, for next week’s breakfast, I decided to bake something a little, ahem, healthier. And what can possibly be healthier than a batch of Peter Reinhart’s lean bread. This recipe is adapted from his book, Artisan Breads Every Day, and if you have never made bread before, this is going to be proof that this is the easiest thing to make from scratch.

Makes 10 breakfast rolls


340 grams bread flour

7 grams salt

3 grams instant yeast

255 grams lukewarm water (about 35°C)


1) On the evening before you want to bake the bread, combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use a large spoon and stir for 2 minutes, until well blended. If the spoon gets too doughy, dip it in a bowl of warm water. The dough should be very soft, sticky, coarse, and shaggy, but still doughlike. Use a wet bowl scraper or spatula to transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

2) To stretch and fold the dough in the bowl, with wet or oiled hands or a wet bowl scraper, reach under the front end of the dough, stretch it out, then fold it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back end and then from each side, then 􏰌ip the dough over and tuck it into a ball. The dough should be signi􏰍cantly 􏰍rmer, though still very soft and fragile. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Repeat this stretch and fold process three more times, completing all repetitions within 40 to 45 minutes. The dough will be a little firmer than when first mixed and the shaggy texture will have smoothed out somewhat, but it will still spread out to fill the bowl.

3) After the final stretch and fold, return the dough to the lightly oiled bowl, and immediately cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days. The dough will rise to about double, and possibly triple, its original size within 4 to 12 hours in the refrigerator.

4) On baking day, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Rub the work surface with a few drops of olive or vegetable oil, then use a wet bowl scraper or wet hands to transfer the dough to the work surface. Divide the dough into 10 pieces for rolls.

5) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then dust it with flour. Have a small bowl of bread flour standing by. With floured hands, gently shape the pieces into rolls. If air bubbles form, pinch the surface to pop them. Mist the surface of the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel.

6) Let the shaped dough sit, covered, at room temperature for 60 minutes. Then, remove the covering and let the dough proof for an additional 60 minutes. The dough will spread slightly and the skin will begin to dry out a bit.

7) About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 230°C (that is the highest my oven will go, the recommended temperature is 288°C), and prepare the oven for hearth baking (by putting a bowl of water in the oven).

8) Just before baking, score the dough with a sharp serrated knife or razor blade. The dough will have spread somewhat but should still have its basic shape, and the shape should spring back in the oven. Transfer the dough to the oven, pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan, then lower the oven temperature to 230°C, or 218°C for a convection oven.

9) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is a rich golden brown and the internal temperature is 93°C to 94°C. For a crisper crust, turn off the oven and leave the bread in for another 5 to 10 minutes before removing. Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

This is the same dough Peter Reinhart used for making a baguette, and I remembered the same ingredients were used in another baguette recipe by Paul Hollywood. And it doesn’t taste half bad too. Here’s to never buying your baguette ever again.


2 thoughts on “Week 28: Lean bread

Add yours

    1. You can substitute a small portion of bread flour (maybe 10%) with whole meal flour for the flavour. However, bread flour is still necessary in order to provide enough gluten structure to the loaf.


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