Bread, General how to's & recipes, Journal

On making Bread (and how to knead and shape it Richard Bertinet’s way)

I love everything about bread!  It’s why I’m mad about France.  It’s why I’m glad I did the Patisserie course. It’s why I enjoy sharing the how to’s with others.  Like my dad:

The thing is, learning from recipe books is all very well BUT when it comes to kneading and shaping the dough, I really believe that one has to be SHOWN the technique to ‘get it’.  We learnt Richard Bertinet’s method at chef school and I am thankful for it.  Here is a link to a fabulous bread lesson with the man himself: 

There’s magic in bread-making…  as you watch it change form several times before it finally comes out of the oven… smelling like heaven. 

Bread, Popular Posts

How to make baguettes – using an easy white dough recipe

Ohhhhhh, baguettes… a reminder of the simple life… with the best French wine and cheese, of course! If you’re new to baking bread, please do refer to my comprehensive explanation (step by step with photos) here.


  • 500 g white bread four
  • 10 g yeast (use 25% less for dried yeast)
  • 10 g salt
  • 350 g warm water


  • First measure out your ingredients else you’ll have dough all over the show
  • Sift flour and mix in yeast (if live then break the yeast into small pieces and rub into the flour with your fingertips)
  • Add the warm water and mix (I always use my hands – VERY scrumptious but VERY messy, so use a spoon if you prefer)
  • Add the salt (once the flour, yeast and water have combined)
  • Knead the dough (by pulling it away and up towards you and then SLAPPING it down again onto the surface …until such time as it becomes less sticky and gains a silky texture)… be patient… carry on working it… it WILL change from sticky to smooth!
  • HOT TIP: Trap as much air as you can as you fold the dough over and back into itself
  • Once the dough is smooth, pat the dough into a ball-shape and place it in a bowl in a warm place (cover with a cloth or plastic but be sure to allow space for the rising of the dough) until it doubles in size


  • Once the dough has doubled in size, it’s ready to be shaped!
  • Help the dough drop out of the bowl by scraping from its underside (be gentle)
  • Roll the dough into itself (feed the outside into the inside) to make it TIGHTER and stronger
  • Roll it into a tight sausage roll shape
  • Slice the roll into two pieces (or whatever size you wish but if dividing then weigh out same-size pieces – so as to allow for even baking) and roll each piece into a tight sausage roll shape
  • Work & roll the ends of each ‘sausage roll’ under your palms so that they become thinner – leave the centre section so that it remains wider


  • Slash the top of the bread with a blade or a knife & dust with flour (the slashes allow the bread to release tension as it bakes)
  • Place in the oven to prove (rise again) on 50 degrees celsius with a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven OR simply cover the bread and place in a warm, sheltered place… until it has expanded in size (30 to 45 minutes)
  • Preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees celsius (I prefer to go HOT so that I get a good crust) and spray with water before adding the baguettes… keep an eye on them… they will be ready as soon as they are brown… test for readiness by tapping on the underside.. . if there is a hollow sound, they are ready

PS. This bread is also great with nothing more than butter and honey. In which case forget the wine and have a cup of tea!

Bread, Christmas, General how to's & recipes, Popular Posts

Stollen Bread

Stollen is a most satisfying Christmas bread made of  sweet dough, marzipan and mixed fruit and nuts.   It makes a fabulous Christmas gift.

The bread will last for a good few months if wrapped in a sealed plastic bag (not cling-wrap) so you can make it ahead of time.  Adding rum or whiskey will give extra flavour as well as extend the shelf life.

The dough is rolled into a rectangular shape.  The marzipan is rolled out and placed on top of the dough (cut to the same size).  It is then sprinkled with mixed fruit and nuts etc.  The bread is then rolled into the traditional Stollen shape and left to prove before it is baked and sprinkled with a generous amount of icing sugar. 



  • 250 grams warm milk
  • 15 grams live yeast
  • 500 grams sifted bread flour
  • 60 grams butter at room temperature
  • 40 grams castor sugar
  • 10 grams salt
  • 2 eggs


  • Work the yeast into the flour with your fingertips
  • Add the rest of the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre
  • Add the butter into the well and work into the dry ingredients
  • Add the eggs and milk into the centre of the well and work into the mix
  • Knead and bang away until the dough becomes silky smooth
  • Place the dough in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size


Search ‘how to make marzipan’ on my blog


Combine the following ingredients in a bowl:

  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons flaked almonds (feel free to include other nuts like cashews if you wish to)
  • 4 tablespoons orange peel (or according to taste)
  • 4 tablespoons currents
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cardamon (don’t over grind as the flavour will be too strong)
  • 1 teaspoon of fine orange and lemon rind
  • A drop of vanilla paste/extract


  • Pre-heat oven to 50 degrees Celsius (to prove your bread once you have prepared the stollen)
  • Prep the bread dough and roll into a rectangular shape (once it has doubled in size)
  • Roll the marzipan into a thin sheet and cut to same size as bread dough
  • Place the marzipan on top of the bread dough
  • Cover the marzipan with the fruit and nut mix
  • Roll the ends of the dough towards the centre of the dough, allowing for a gap (the same size as the roll on each side of it) in the centre or two thirds of the way across
  • Extend the one roll over the gap and place it directly on top of the other roll (use the rolling pin to create an indentation on the underlying roll first)
  • Press down on the outside edges of the dough (about 5 to 10 mm from the outer edge)
  • Place in the oven until the dough has expanded in size (around double in size – look out for a ‘puffiness’)
  • Remove carefully, place in a warm place and set oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • When the oven is ready, spray the Stollen with water as well as the base of the oven
  • Place on a baking sheet on a baking tray in the centre of the oven
  • Bake until golden brown
  • Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter
  • Sprinkle liberally with icing sugar over the melted butter
  • Repeat – give the bread another coating of butter and sprinkle with more icing sugar

Wrap in transparent plastic (once cool) and seal with sticky tape before placing in another transparent bag (or whatever packaging you prefer)…  finish with ribbons and a home-made card for a personal Christmas gift that looks, smells and tastes a treat!

Bread, General how to's & recipes, Popular Posts

How to make Tresse bread – using a standard sweet dough recipe

Lana's Tresse Bread

As I write, I am nibbling on some of the Tresse bread I made in class today (with butter and honey and a cup of tea).  It turned out beautifully!

See ‘how to make standard sweet dough for bread’ for the bread recipe. Chef Tim demonstrates how to prepare and plait the bread in the photos below:

Roll dough & cut into smaller pieces (I worked on 85 g a piece)

Once you have made your bread dough and left it in a warm place to double in size, gently ease it out of its container and roll.  Cut same-size pieces (I worked on 85 grams per piece) and roll into balls as seen below.

Pastry Tresse Bread etc 118

Take two balls and roll out into two long sausage shapes.  Cross one over the other and continue plaiting the dough, as depicted below. 

Tuck the end pieces under the bread.  Leave in a warm place to rest and then egg wash before baking at 180 degrees celsius (until golden brown).   You could also brush the bread with sugar syrup (swiftly and lightly) as soon as it comes out of the oven. 

The dough should have a good ‘spring’ in it when stretched.

Bread, General how to's & recipes

Bread making in 6 steps

If bread making is new to you, it may be helpful to get a bird’s eye view of the process before you start working with different recipes.  There are six basic stages:

  1. Mixing: mix flour with yeast, add water, add salt
  2. Kneading: work the sticky mass until it develops into a smooth, strong & bouncy dough
  3. Resting: rest dough in a large bowl until it has doubled in size (this allows the yeast to produce carbon dioxide which fills the mixture with gas, allowing the dough to rise)
  4. Shaping: gently ease the dough out of its container and then cut to size (if required) and mould into desired shape
  5. Resting: rest the dough so that it can rise again (this is called proofing)
  6. Baking: bake until the inside is set and the crust is brown – test for readiness by tapping on the underside (a hollow sound means the loaf is ready)

The type of loaf will depend on the kinds of ingredients and proportions used.  How the bread is kneaded also influences the texture of the bread.  The more air you incorporate into the dough as you fold, compress, stretch, fold, compress, stretch… the finer the texture of your bread will be.  Beware of overworking (the dough will become sticky again).   Some breads call for minimal kneading for a courser texture.

Room temperature effects the rising time.  The warmer the room the better.  At chef school, we light up the gas stoves while we are working and then we leave our dough to rise near the stove.  We also spray water into the ovens before baking as this prevents a crust from forming too soon.

I am busy learning the basics and have made several boo boos along the way.  But I’d still rather eat a not-so-perfect bagette from my own oven than a mass produced loaf from the supermarket down the road.  

Give it a bash!