skippy barm bread

I had good intentions of following the recipe. It just doesn’t often work out like that.

Two minutes in, actually lets be realistic. Thirty seconds in and I already had done something completely different to what Dan Lepard’s recipe said.

Don’t you read the recipe? Mr Chocolate helpfully said.

Um no… I guess I don’t.

Right. It was pointless in continuing with Dan’s method. Heating the beer up surely couldn’t be a crucial part in the breads success could it? I softly closed the book and resumed hackbaking 101. One day, one day, I might be able to follow a recipe.

One day?

Popping my thinking cap on, I wrote down my own recipe. I quite often write down what I’m going to do before I do it. I look at my ratios, see if it looks right, and then make any adjustments to the ratios as I go along.

With the beer, flour and starter mixed together, I left it over night. Coming back in the morning like an enthusiastic kid waiting to open a present. Would it look like it should? Would be a deflated watery mess? Would it have escaped the bowl and be slowly making its way down the kitchen cupboards, making a clear getting away towards the door?

I peeped inside and happily saw, it looked kind of like how I would expect it to look. Excellent. Now to the bread bit.

Behaving well, the end of the day and it’s baking time. A shape and a slash. Bake and ….

Happy mama. It looks decent. Mr Chocolate spies it and demands bread rights. I say not a chance, need to take some pictures, and then you can try it and give the crucial Mr Chocolate test.

It passes.


* Note, Dan Lepard asks for bottle conditioned beer with live yeast. I didn’t use that, instead just a regular type of beer. Does this mean it’s now not a barm bread, but instead a regular beer bread? Not sure, perhaps perhaps… Any enlightment from the bread gurus?

Skippy Barm Bread

Hack baked ย Adapted from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf


330mls room temperature beer

1/2 cup (75g) flour

3 good spoonfuls of active sourdough starter (100%)

Whisk together and leave overnight.

Barm Bread

550g barm

4 cups (600g) flour

200mls water

Mix ingredients together and leave for half an hour or so. Add 2 1/2 tsp salt and mix again. Quick knead, and then prove for a while. Another quick fold and then shape. Prove again, slash and then bake at 240C with steam.

I’ve also done an olive bread using the same dough. Just weave your favourite kind of olivesย through the dough on shaping, prove and then bake. Make sure those olives are really tucked in, otherwise they pop out when baking.

This post submitted to yeast spotting.


42 thoughts on “skippy barm bread

  1. haven’t we all just gone on our merry way only to discover that we have come to a fork in the road and followed a different path to our recipe! thank heavens for experience and intuition which seemed to get you there – looks wonderful


  2. i had to discipline myself a lot when i made dan’s barm bread on the weekend..i tend to like to follow my instincts too but with this bread i thought i’d better toe the line because i’m not experienced enough with bread baking yet to really do my own thing with such an idiosyncratic recipe..i don’t think my beer was a conditioned beer either..i looked on line to check on the criteria for conditioned beer and i deduced (rightly or wrongly) that it needs to say so on the label..anyway the bread was a success if success is measured by the crunch of the crust and the flavour and lightness of the crumb..but it wasn’t a success if looks are taken into consideration because the dough stuck to the muslin lining of the proving bowl and despite gentle persuasion to remove the dough intact it tore and i ended up with bits of dough that i stuck to the top of the loaf to avoid the wastage..

    i really didn’t mean to ramble on about my bread issues..i really wanted to say your barm bread is very easy on the eye..


    • Ramble away Jane. Rambles are always welcome here.
      Will you post your version of the bread? This was one recipe I really did have grand intentions of following it to the T…ahh well. Having made it a few times my way, it definitely works though.
      So were you happy enough with yours to make it again?


  3. I’m a bad boy and haven’t baked any bread for a while. I was thinking of taking some of my starter home to the UK over Christmas, but wasn’t quite sure how it would survive on the plane or what I’d say if customs stopped me!

    Did it taste beery? I think Coopers Pale Ale is bottle fermented and is dfinitely easy to get hold of.

    Why the very different coloured crust between the larger and smaller loaves? (Just interested in if you did anything different.)

    I really like the sponge method of sourdough, it’s becomming my favourite way to bake.


    • Nope, didn’t taste beery at all. I’ll keep the Coopers in mind if I make the bread the proper way it was supposed to- thanks for that.
      As for the different colours, just top and bottom shelf of the oven ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. I think your bread intuition wins ๐Ÿ™‚ I struggle to follow recipes exactly – aside from anything else it takes me so much longer! – and have much more fun when I don’t. Even the not-so-successful outcomes seem a little more enjoyable. Clearly, though, this was in the successful category…very impressive.


  5. Hi Brydie! First off – beautiful loaves !! gorgeous clear slashes and all!

    is this the barm bread in HML? There was lots of discussion about the beer on at one point, if you have the patience to read through old threads. As to changing methods, etc, Recipes used to be little more than lists of ingredients, you are following in a long and noble tradition ๐Ÿ˜€ xx


      • I like that… a long and noble tradition ๐Ÿ™‚
        I did read through quite a few posts on The Fresh Loaf on the bread… after I had made it twice *ahem*. But yes, it is the one from The Handmade Loaf. Do you have to log in to access the old threads for the Dan forum?


    • I can’t reply at the bottom. Just had a look at dan’s forum. I think the threads I’m thinking of are in the old Handmade Loaf section which he has archived for the moment, no idea when and if he will put them back. From memory, the barm bread idea references the old ways of making bread, rather than actually doing it, if that makes sense. I think the idea of a quality beer is self explanatory, less additives, flavour etc. The yeasts in the beer if they are still live, would be killed off anyway by the boiling bit (the bit you didn’t do!). I think the idea of boiling it up is to a) slightly reduce the alcohol to help the yeasts/sourdough work better and heat and water and flour alter the flour starches, converting some of these to sugars, so again making more easily available to the yeast/sourdough. Damn I sound geeky and I’ve probably not got it quite right anyway. Take my rambles with a pinch of salt sweetheart xx


      • It’s the geeky that I love Joanna. You know my poor brain struggles with the why, and how of bread. That makes sense though about the beer. Maybe this year I should just focus on barm breads, and play with the beers a little.
        I plan to nail sourdough in another 10-15 years or so, until then my brain cells are on pause ๐Ÿ™‚ That means a whole lot more hack baking.


  6. My mother used to say “The proof is in the eating.”
    But then she was not a great bread maker. If we got a loaf of white bread a year, we were lucky!
    I think your methods are well used and comfortable to you- and your bread is beautiful!


  7. Ah, how refreshing. …have been away from the computer for a couple of weeks and come back to more of your wonderful recipes.I always imagine your family rubbing their satisfied tummies as you cook another masterpiece for them! Love the bread recipe, will try it soon.


  8. Wow, they look gorgeous. I’ve been meaning to bake with beer for ages now, so thank you for giving me a reminder. It’ll have to wait until I’ve eaten through some of the stuff I’ve already got though! But remembering your pictures will definitely inspire me!

    Did the monkeys like it? Is it a very beer-y tasting bread or is it more of a backnote/


  9. Oh these pictures of bread have me wanting!

    I totally go off road and will adjust recipes to my tastes, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but how would I ever discover new combinations if I just read a recipe and stuck with it ๐Ÿ™‚


  10. What gorgeous bread you’ve made there, recipe following or not! I’m not much of a bread baker myself, mainly due to needing a new oven, but just looking at these loaves makes me want to make some. Love the olive loaf, too, one of my faves. Beauty!


  11. I concur with Celia! Beautiful loaves! I think my problem would be with beer bread is that I’d want to keep trying different types of beer…lagers..pale ales, heavier could really be a whole other world of baking out there!

    Onto hackbaking 101, I seem to be in the same classroom as you this week..lots of hack-jam making, which is the best kind really, isn’t it? Just a few simple ingredients and off we go….!


  12. These are among the prettiest loaves I’ve ever seen on screen! No, not among…I think they take the prize! Gold medal goes to Cityhippyfarmgirl’s Skippy Barm Bread! (Is there an anthem you’d like played?)


  13. Your bread always looks amazing. I’ve heard of beer batter, so I expect it must do good things to bread with it’s yeast content. Hoping this will be the year I will attempt sourdough. You make it sound so easy!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s