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Thursday, 30 July 2009


Filed under: baking,bread - yeasted & unyeasted,food & drink,whine — ejm @ 10:58 EDT

summary: Richard Bertinet’s “slap and fold” kneading method; no pre-heating on oven; how not to bake bread; (no photographic evidence)


I’m. Spitting. Mad.

I just threw oven mitts across the kitchen several times and still can’t stop foaming at the mouth.

I thought I was going to be making absolutely brilliant bread today using 1½ times the baguette recipe based on one in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I used percentages to calculate the amounts. I kneaded it using Richard Bertinet’s “slap and fold” method I saw on a fantastic breadmaking video from This kneading method is great!! You’ve got to try it.

And the dough seemed fine. More than fine.

Early yesterday evening, I shaped the dough into two baguettes, one ring loaf and one small star shaped ring that I had to try after seeing Bertinet make one. And into the fridge it went overnight. I brought it out this morning to bake.

But then I made my first whopping mistake. I decided to try the “no preheating the oven” method of baking raved about by many on The Fresh Loaf and outlined in “Eye opening techniques” by E Hanner. (This is where I saw the link to the Bertinet video.)

I preheated the oven for about 5 minutes. It was only at about 250F when I started to put the bread in. But I didn’t think it mattered. Others had baked bread starting in a cold oven….

I began by lifting the star shaped bun and ring loaf onto my SuperPeel. Wonderful!! They went right onto the peel. No problem.

And stayed on the peel. Big problem. They WOULDN’T go off!! The star shaped bun stuck to the pastry cloth and continued rotating right around to the bottom of the peel. Hanging there like a limpet. A star shaped limpet.

I rotated the cloth back so the bun was in upright position. Tried again.


Not so star shaped.

Rotated it back. Grabbed it in fury off the peel and it stretched like a feeble elastic (yes, I could have thrown it over my shoulders) so I bundled it all into a sticky mass and threw it in disgust onto the warm(ish) stone.

Then onto the ring loaf.

More of the same. Ish. But it came off the peel. Just.

After about 20 minutes of baking, the wonderful aroma of baking bread filled the house. I went down to be thrilled at the result.

Bread. Stuck. Irrevokably. To. The. Stone.

(Cue tantrum)

I was at my wit’s end and in my panic didn’t know WHAT to do. So T came down from his office to the rescue.

he: (getting large cookie rack from wall) what would possess you to try baking bread without preheating the oven? of course it’s going to fail!!! (retrieving oven mitts from corner of the room where they landed the last time they were flung)

me: You should see the photos on the Fresh Loaf. They make GREAT bread without preheating the oven. I was sure it would work!

he: (lifting hot stone onto the rack) This bread is never going to come off!! Where are the baguettes? Are they still in the oven??

me: No. I’m just about to bake them….

Things improved a little. The baguettes appear to have baked correctly. They don’t look very much like baguettes though. More like submarine buns. (No photograph. I don’t dare pick up the camera. I’m clearly on a failing roll.)

And speaking of rolls, the formerly star-shaped bun ended up like a little puck. I have no idea if it is edible or not. I haven’t had time to taste it. I’m still busy licking my wounds.

Remind me to ALWAYS preheat the oven fully before baking bread.

I’m happy to report that once the stone had cooled, I was able use the dough scraper to remove the large bottom remnants of the ring loaf that seemed to be attached to the board with superglue.


  • MyKitchenInHalfCups

    ummm …. maybe I won’t try that.

  • ejm

    Hmmm, good idea, Tanna… although I would try the Bertinet kneading method, if I were you. It really is great. Very satisfying.


    (There are also FreshLoaf comments to this.)

  • Phydeaux

    We just tried using our pizza stone for the first time today, dough never even made it to the stone. :-( I should’ve read your earlier pizza blogs, we’ll try some parchment paper next time.

    Eeek!! I hate that when that happens! Definitely, try the parchment paper. It really does save you from a world of grief. Hope you didn’t go hungry because of pizza dough refusing to leave the peel! -ejm

  • Baking Soda

    Yikes! I hate it when that happens! love the bertinet slapping method! Very rewarding in more than one way…


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