The problem was of my own making. A bit of bad planning meant both that we were due to run out of bread on Saturday and that my schedule for Saturday was very full. Certainly no time for any of my normal loaves. But a somewhat new approach saved the day with a stunningly good loaf on Sunday morning which, I swear, took me no more than 5 minutes in total on Saturday, and it was all totally serendipitous.

In one sense, my saviour was Jeremy Shapiro. On Friday, he wrote about Do-Nothing Bread, which I read because I read everything he posts. That was about an approach detailed in a book called Respectus Panis, written by a group of bakers called Les Ambassadeurs du Pain (in French, obvs., with the most intensely annoying automated music to boot, which is why I immediately went in search of details elsewhere).

I failed to run down anything very detailed, but that didn’t bother me as the whole thing looked to be pretty simple. Tiny quantities of inoculant, minimal amounts of salt and lots of time. In other words, not unlike Lahey’s no-knead formula. Just the thing, possibly, for a busy-day bread.

Ingredients & Method

10g sourdough starter, 100% hydration, straight out of the fridge
400g water
8g salt
400g white Manitoba flour
50g whole wheat flour
50g whole rye flour

Disperse the starter (you could use just a smidgen of yeast instead) in the water, add the salt and the flours and stir enough to mix all reasonably well. Cover loosely and go out for the day.

Come back and give it a set of stretch and folds in the bowl. Worry that nothing is happening.

Go out to the movies, giving another set of stretch and folds in the bowl before you leave. Continue to worry.

Come home, prepare a banneton, give the dough a final set of stretch of folds and then a coil fold directly into the banneton. Try to persuade yourself that there does seem to be a bit of activity. Cover loosely and go to bed.

Wake up, remove loose cover and marvel at the rise. Pretend you never had any doubts. Preheat the oven and a casserole to max (about 220°C). Gently tip the dough onto baking parchment, slash quickly, worry that it is spreading too fast and get it into the casserole, pronto.

After 27 minutes, remove the casserole lid and marvel all over again. Bake for a further 27 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before digging in for lunchtime. Give thanks to fellow bloggers and bakers.

Overnight rise

Slashed and spreading fast


Great oven spring

Soft, light crumb. Crisp crust. Oodles of flavour

And, of course, yesterday’s issue of the Bread magazine newsletter had a little story linking to Jeremy’s original post and some detailed versions of recipes. Mine was not exactly like any of those, but it was very fine. Do I now need to wait for another super-busy day to repeat? Probably not.

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