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  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 olives 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.

slowing it down to eat some rye bread


Sourdough is not a quick process. It’s slow, likes to amble. Take its time. Focus it’s energy on the job on hand and then gradually release all of that sourdoughy goodness. Especially slow in winter. I don’t mind though. I’m in no hurry. The bread and I have no place special to be, and if I did…well the bread can wait. Sourdough is like that. Occasionally moody and a little flighty, but regularly reliable, and keen to just make peace with what ever is happening. I like that.

I had started with a 100% rye from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf. I took my time, didn’t hurry it along. It turned out ok, but I wasn’t thrilled. Mr Chocolate had mistakenly washed up my 2 tablespoons of crucial gelatinized mix to go on top of the loaf, and it all looked a little too floury. I had been nervous about putting the sticky mass dough in my banetton, so had floured a teatowel to line it instead. The loaf just came out looking like a floured teatowel though. Never mind. I’ll try a again.

Trial one

Second time around and I thought I would tweak the flavours a little. I wanted a more in-depth flavour, and also banished Mr Chocolate from my gelatinized mix at the crucial time. Flavour was better, and I didn’t bother with a banetton, just freeformed a rough round shape and pegged the sides of the baking paper to cradle and support it a little. It did rise, the top looked a little glossy, and several cracks developed while rising…. but it wasn’t quite there yet. What was missing?

Trial Two

Third time around, and the weather was cold. It certainly was going to take longer than the 5 hours recommended to let it rise. Once baked, I left it for 48 hours wrapped in baking paper before I cut into it. This really did seem to help in the development of the flavour, but….

Trial three- it’s getting there. The flavour was certainly there, but not quite there yet…

Fourth go. It tastes good.

I’m done.

Trialing and tweaking I’ve enjoyed doing, but I still find it a bit of a pain to make on account of it being so sticky. The taste is there though. It was really cold the day I made this one and it certainly didn’t double in size. It was a loooong cool prove, probably 12 hours on the bench all up plus 12 hours in the fridge. I’m still sticking with the hand shaping and laying on bakers paper rather than a banetton, I didn’t bother checking the temperature of the boiling water asper Dan Lepard’s instructions, (things aren’t that slow round here.) Just whisked when it’s boiled. I also think wrapping it afterwards is very crucial. The taste is a light sour, really tight crumb and I think the linseed and dark malt flour I added give a bit more depth, to which I like.

It’s filling, it’s good for you, The Monkeys won’t have a bar of it, and that suits me just fine. I can eat my way through it… slowly.


My changed ingredient list is as follows, for the method and some other invaluable notes on Dan Lepard’s more original recipe- jump over to Zeb Bakes. The lovely Joanna made this a little while back and it was really interesting to see what she thought of the same recipe.

100% Sour Rye

adapted from The Handmade Loaf
300g rye starter
75mls cold water
450g gelatinized rye mix
400g rye flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp dark malt flour
50g (1/2 cup) linseed meal, or LSA
gelatinized rye mix- 90g rye flour and 360 mls water
The night before make up the gelatinized rye mix, using just boiled water and whisking flour in immediately. Leave two tablespoons aside for the top of the loaf. Whisk cold water into thr rye starter and then also whisk in the gelatinized mix. Then add remaining ingredients.
On to an oiled surface, try and squish it into the shape you want. Smoothing it round and leave it for 5 (ambitious for me)- 12 hours on a baking paper cradle or banetton. Until it’s risen a bit anyway.
Spread the remaining gelatinized mix on, spray with water and pop in the oven at 210C for about 50 minutes.
This post submitted to yeastspotting.

Basmati Yogurt Breadrolls

I was given Dan Lepard’s, The Handmade Loaf recently by a good friend and inside is a lovely collection of launching pads of recipes. Now as it’s begun to be known around these parts, I can’t follow a recipe to save myself. So with this in mind I saw Dan’s recipe for Rice Bread and thought I could fiddle with that.

Let’s see…

With some basmati languishing in the fridge and yogurt that needed to be seen to as well, these little fellas did me proud. Healthy, with a sourdough-yogurt-basmati mix, they would have to be quite low GI, and they give a bit more oomph to your standard bread roll. Once cooked, I added some chunky cheese and some old lady pickle*, and I was a happy woman.

* Don’t worry, it’s not really made out of old ladies. Just what I call mustard pickles…. usually made by little old ladies.

Basmati Yogurt Breadrolls

(adapted from Dan Lepard’s Rice Bread)

150gms cooked left over basmati rice

110gms yogurt

250gms strong bakers flour

200gms sourdough starter

3/4 tps salt

40mls water

The usual mix, prove, fold, prove, shape, prove. Then baked at 240C for 10 minutes with steam and then another 10 minutes at 220C.

A chewy toothsome breadroll, that also freezes well, and I’m really looking forward to making these again.

This post submitted to the wonderful yeastspotting.