Cook It in Your Dutch Oven by America’s Test Kitchen [epub | 425,64 Mb] ISBN: 1945256567

  • Full Title: Cook It in Your Dutch Oven: 150 Foolproof Recipes Tailor-Made for Your Kitchen’s Most Versatile Pot
  • Autor: America’s Test Kitchen
  • Print Length: 328 pages
  • Publisher: America’s Test Kitchen
  • Publication Date: December 4, 2018
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1945256567
  • ISBN-13: 978-1945256561
  • Download File Format | Size: epub | 425,64 Mb
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A Dutch oven is the most versatile pot in your kitchen: a soup pot, a deep fryer, a braiser, a roaster, an enclosed bread oven, and the perfect vessel for one-dish meals.

Don’t relegate your prized pot to the back of the cabinet. Learn how to put your Dutch oven to work every day in so many different ways. Turn out practical yet fun meals made entirely in one pot, such as Weeknight Pasta Bolognese; Chicken Pot Pie with Spring Vegetables; and Lamb Meatballs with Orzo, Tomatoes, and Feta. Impressive braises and roasts, such as Braised Short Ribs with Wild Mushroom Farrotto, go seamlessly from stovetop (the enameled surface makes it easy to create fond without burning) to the oven (cast iron maintains steady heat to ensure food cooks perfectly). We’ll even walk you through deep frying and artisanal bread baking at home (try the Korean Fried Chicken Wings or the Braided Chocolate Babka). And a range of appealing desserts, from Pear-Ginger Crisp (the pot holds a generous 5 pounds of pears) to Bourbon-Pecan Bread Pudding, benefit from the Dutch oven’s high sides and even heating.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

America’s Test Kitchen is well-known for its top-rated television shows, bestselling cookbooks, magazines, websites, and cooking school. The highly reputable and recognizable brands of America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated, and Cook’s Country are the work of over 60 passionate chefs based in Boston, Massachusetts, who put ingredients, cookware, equipment, and recipes through objective, rigorous testing to identify the very best. Discover, learn, and expand your cooking repertoire with Julia Collin Davison, Bridget Lancaster, Jack Bishop, Dan Souza, Lisa McManus, Tucker Shaw, Bryan Roof, and our fabulous team of test cooks!



rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

CLARKSON POTTER is a trademark and POTTER with colophon is a registered trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Lundy, Ronni.

Title: Victuals : an Appalachian journey, with recipes / Ronni Lundy ; photographs by Johnny Autry.

Description: New York : Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2016.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016013454 (print) | LCCN 2016017691 (ebook) | ISBN 9780804186742 (hardback) | ISBN 9780804186759 (Ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Cooking, American. | Cooking–Appalachian Region, Southern. | Appalachian Region, Southern–Social life and customs. | BISAC: COOKING / Regional & Ethnic / American / Southern States. | COOKING / Regional & Ethnic / American / Middle Western States. | COOKING / History. | LCGFT: Cookbooks.

Classification: LCC TX715 .L9424 2016 (print) | LCC TX715 (ebook) | DDC 641.5974–dc23kaa

LC record available at

ISBN 9780804186742

ebook ISBN 9780804186759

Cover design by Stephanie Huntwork

Cover photographs by Johnny Autry

Endpaper map illustrations by Ash Swain at Great Southern Tattoo Co.

Food styling by Charlotte Autry



This book is for John Egerton, who invited me to take my place at the table, and for Finn, who sits today at the same oak table where I took my supper at his age. May we continue to look for truth and meaning in our stories.



Roots and Seeds

Messing with Greens

Salt of the Earth

Salty Dogs: Chili Buns and Slaw Dogs


David Bauer


The Third Sister


The Art of Apple Butter

Travis’s Tattoos


A Sweet Squeeze


Shelley Cooper

Appalachian Spring







Say it the way my people have for centuries: vidls.

Maybe you’ve seen it spelled “vittles” in a cartoon balloon coming from the mouth of Mammy Yokum. Or heard it as the punch line delivered before Granny Clampett clogs off to “roast up a mess of possum.” Maybe you thought saying it that way was wrong.

But look that word up in your dictionary. It turns out my people, the people of the southern Appalachian Mountains, have been right about victuals all along. About the way you say them, the way you raise them, the way you cook them, keep them, and share them. About saving seeds, and working the land, and simmering pole beans, and making real cornbread. About the connections between earth and the table, and between the table and the people seated around it.

Victuals. This is a book that tells about those connections. This is a book about present-day people and places across the southern Appalachian Mountains and the ways their stories link to the past. It’s about the foods they make and eat, the gardens they grow, the lives they create. It’s a book full of recipes and a book full of voices.

To gather them, I drove over four thousand miles—zigzag on switchbacks, straight along ridgelines, weaving and loping through valleys, dark and light—to meet and learn from home cooks and chefs, farmers and shop owners, curers and savers and preservers of both food and traditions. I explored Kentucky, West Virginia, southern Ohio, northern Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. I searched back through history and joined others in imagining the future. I ate and cooked up a remarkable amount of really good food. This book will take you back on that journey with me.

But maybe before you call shotgun for a ride in my reliable but rough-countenanced Chevy Astro van, you might want to know a little about who I am and how I came to write this. Halfway through the previous century, I was born in Corbin, a railroad town in eastern Kentucky. My parents and sister were born there, too. Through my grandparents, great-grandparents, and beyond, I have roots that wind through these mountains to Rose Hill and Washington County, Virginia; Buncombe County, North Carolina; East Tennessee; Kanawha, West Virginia; and on. Those roots connected me to the mountains of my birth even as, when I was a toddler, we moved to the city, Louisville, so my father could find work. Like most who migrated in the many hillbilly diasporas brought on by the regional economic crashes of the 20th century, my parents continued to call Corbin “up home” and to take me there whenever they had a chance. My great-aunts fostered those connections, too, riding up to Louisville on the L&N Railroad in the morning to take me back to spend a few days with them. We rode back in the evening, the train rolling through
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Crisp Tofu with Vegetables and Sesame-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Yellow Split Pea Dip


Quinoa, Apricot, and Nut Clusters

Beet Chips

Roasted Red Peppers with Anchovies

Chickpea Nibbles and Crunchy Split Pea Bites

Spiced Nuts and Seeds


Open-Faced Tomato Sandwiches with Herbs and Creamy Tofu Spread

Greek-Yogurt and Vegetable Sandwiches

Egg Salad Sandwiches

Salmon Salad and Curried Egg On Multigrain Bread

Grilled Mushroom Burgers with White-Bean Spread

Kiwifruit Summer Rolls

Pita Sandwiches with Spinach-Chickpea Spread

Quinoa-and-Turkey Patties in Pita with Tahini Sauce

Shiitake Nori Rolls


Carrot Soup

Autumn Greens Soup

Chilled Asparagus Soup with Spinach and Avocado

Golden Pepper Soup

Sweet Red Pepper and Beet Soup

Hearty Spinach and Chickpea Soup

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Lentil, Carrot, and Lemon Soup with Fresh Dill

Chilled Tomato-Dill Soup

Mushroom Soup with Poached Eggs and Parmesan Cheese

Miso Soup with Tofu, Spinach, and Carrots

Polenta and Spinach Soup

Soba Noodle Soup with Shiitakes and Spinach

Chili with Chicken and Beans

Sablefish in Tomato-Saffron Stew


Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad

Quinoa and Corn Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Oranges with Olives and Parsley

Papaya, Endive, and Crabmeat Salad


Cannellini-Bean Niçoise Salad

Green Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad

Endive, Avocado, and Red Grapefruit Salad

Sautéed Spinach with Pecans and Goat Cheese

Lemony Lentil Salad

Asparagus with Shiitakes, Shallots, and Peas

Marinated Beet Salad

Arugula with Maple-Roasted Pumpkin

Chicken and Mango Salad

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs

Crisp Mackerel Salad with Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette

Asian Chicken Salad with Bok Choy

Parsley-Leaf Salad with Pine Nuts, Olives, and Orange Dressing

Wilted Kale with Cranberry Beans and Delicata Squash


Poached Salmon with Asparagus, Herbs, and Baby Greens

Roasted Salmon and Parsnips with Ginger

Curry-Rubbed Salmon with Napa Slaw

Citrus-Roasted Salmon with Spring Pea Sauce

Miso Salmon with Cilantro Sauce

Hoisin-Glazed Sablefish with Bok Choy

Sablefish En Papillote with Shiitake Mushrooms and Orange

Grilled Trout with Oregano

Panfried Trout with Almonds and Parsley

Halibut in Green-Tea Broth with Quinoa

Grilled Fish Tacos

Shrimp with Kiwifruit-Lime Relish

Paprika Shrimp with Walnuts

Brown Rice with Tofu, Dried Mushrooms, and Baby Spinach

Vegetable-Rice Bowl with Miso Dressing

Whole-Wheat Pizza with Artichokes and Pecorino

Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls

Stuffed Poblanos in Chipotle Sauce

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Herb-Almond Pesto and Broccoli

Soba Noodle, Tofu, and Vegetable Stir-Fry

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lentils, Spinach, and Leeks

Spinach Pasta with Corn, Edamame, and Green Beans

Butternut Squash Curry

Quick Tomato Sauce

Spring Barley Risotto

Swiss Chard, Mushroom, and Quinoa Salad

Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts

Chicken Breasts with Fennel, Carrots, and Couscous

Chicken with Pumpkin-Seed Mole

Lemon Chicken with Avocado-Corn Salsa

Turkey Cutlets with Tomatoes and Capers

Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Apricots with Honey Glaze

Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Beet Greens and Roasted Beets

Steak with Spicy Papaya-Carrot Salsa

Grass-Fed Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli


Lentils with Ginger, Golden Beets, and Herbs

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pear and Shallots

Glazed Carrots with Ginger

Kohlrabi and Turnip Slaw

Steamed Rutabaga and Potato Salad

Carrot Latkes

Edamame and Butternut Squash Succotash

Steamed Broccoli with Miso-Sesame Dressing

Sesame Spinach

Baked Plum Tomatoes with Herbed Rice Stuffing

Roasted Fall Vegetables

Savory Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Wedges with Sesame-Soy Dipping Sauce

Wild and Brown Rice Salad

Cauliflower and Barley Salad with Toasted Almonds

Quinoa and Toasted-Amaranth Slaw

Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad

Wheat Berries with Mixed Vegetables

Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing

Farro and Mushroom Dressing

Swiss Chard with Olives


Orange-Walnut Olive Oil Cake with Sweet Yogurt

Warm Stone-Fruit Salad

Poached Tropical Fruit with Sorbet

Roasted Papaya with Brown Sugar

Sliced Oranges with Candied Hazelnuts

Lemon Cream with Blackberries

Four-Berry Salad

Individual Sweet Potato and Apple Soufflés

Berry Grunt

Double Dark Chocolate and Ginger Biscotti

Chocolate-Dipped Pears

Vanilla-Bean Baked Apples

Strawberries with Yogurt and Pistachios

Berry Crush

Oven-Dried Fruit with Chocolate and Toasted Almonds

the basics







I am especially happy that we are publishing Power Food
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for itself with grilled meats. The Trois Frères Provençaux serve southern French cuisine, cooking with olive oil instead of cream, bringing the bouillabaisse to Paris. By the early nineteenth century, this new type of eating house has firmly established itself, in Paris – and only in Paris.14

The era of the restaurant critic is dawning. Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de La Reynière publishes the Almanac of the Gourmand, releasing new volumes regularly throughout the first decade of the nineteenth century. Grimod is tremendously successful. Writers have turned their attention to food before, of course. But it is new for the emphasis to be exclusively on the culinary and on a world peopled only by consumers and chefs.

Grimod invents the gourmand. This new cultural figure wanders the streets of Paris, gazing at the sweets in window displays, pursuing the scent of roasted meat. He recommends little red-breasted robins as a delicacy. He compares the pâtissier Rouget to the playwright Racine. He praises Theurlot’s butter and the macaroni at Corazza and at Magasin d’Italie. A typical Parisian, he claims that although the best meat may come from the Poitou or Auvergne regions, it only really takes on flavour after it has been delivered to the capital. No topic is too trivial for him. His almanac even addresses how best to sweep away crumbs from the table. He visits and evaluates restaurants, and claims to be able to ruin the reputation of an establishment with a single sentence. Grimod also develops a new type of customer for the post-bouillon restaurant. The gourmand is no longer too sensitive or fragile: as delicate as his palate may be, this customer is healthy and strong.15

Writers such as Grimod, Carême and Brillat-Savarin transform the physical act of food consumption into an aesthetic and intellectual practice.16 Their readers are curious to discover an increasing variety of pleasures. And so two aspects of nineteenth-century society cross-fertilize one another: gastronomy and the expanding world of Parisian journalism. French cuisine only becomes French cuisine because so many people are talking about it.17

But great as the curiosity of these dedicated restaurant visitors may be, the kitchen remains closed to them. Only waitresses and waiters cross back and forth between the consumption and preparation areas. For everyone else, the glittering sphere of culinary refinement remains clearly divided from the steamy production space. This is what the success of the restaurant rests upon. It creates illusions. The Véry brothers, for example, famed for their oysters, call their inn Chez Véry, to make you feel you’re in their home. But that is most definitely not the case.

Not all customers are able to cope with this. In a restaurant called Véfour, in 1839, former infantry officer Alphonse Robert hurls a wine bottle against a mirror when the waiter refuses to put it on a tab. It is a very expensive and highly symbolic scene, and one which leads to a sensational trial. By throwing the bottle, the officer destroys the illusion of elegance and ease constructed at Véfour. But then again, the fact that the waiter brings the bill at the end of the meal destroys the fantasy too.18


Frances Donovan wears a uniform now. She belongs. A colleague shows her how things are done. Five barstools at a counter right at the front: this is her area. She has the lunch-time shift, from half past eleven to half past two. First, the customer is given a glass of water, cutlery, a napkin. Then he orders. Once he receives his order, a card is punched. If he orders more, the card is punched again. The first customer has already arrived. He wants ham on rye and coffee. She spots the coffee. But where can she get the rye bread and the ham? Frances whispers her question to a colleague in a white jacket. Back there, he says, you have to call it out. He calls it out for her. The sandwich appears. Now everything is clear to her. She calls for sandwiches. She knows where the coffee is, where the milk is, doughnuts, cake. Then someone wants the roast beef special. It’s not where the ham on rye is. In the Foundry, says another waiter. Where’s the Foundry? At the back. She hurries off. The Foundry is full of sweating cooks, and in front of it waitresses are shouting orders. The roast beef special comes with mashed potato and a little mound of spaghetti, and the fat, cross-eyed cook slices the roast beef and tells her she should take thirty cents for it. Back to the table. Someone wants hot milk toast. Frances yells out ‘hot milk toast’ into the Foundry, but hot milk toast, says the fat cook, isn’t from the Foundry, but the Laundry. Not back here, up the front. She hurries to the front. Frances yells ‘hot milk toast’ into the Laundry. Correct. And so it goes on, from the Laundry to the table, from the table to the Foundry and back, napkins, cutlery, glass of water,
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early-nineteenth-century mix of whiskey, bitters, and sugar that was served in a footed wine glass and often downed as a morning drink. The drink picked up in popularity as the century crawled on. It acquired its current name sometime in the late 1800s, as drinkers, alarmed by all the new-fangled add-ons barkeeps were throwing into drinks (such as maraschino liqueur, absinthe, Curaçao, and Chartreuse), began to ask for an “Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail.” “Old-Fashioned” became the shorthand term for the drink over time.

The cocktail survived Prohibition but emerged at the other end in a fruitier fashion. A muddled orange slice and cherry, topped with whiskey, bitters, and sometimes soda water, became the common bar treatment and preferred patron style. That construct held for a good long time until modern mixologists brought the drink back to its “garbage-free,” pre-Prohibition model. The new-old Old-Fashioned was all about simplicity: delicious whiskey, beautiful ice (often a single large cube), and an orange or lemon twist—a cocktail as imagined by abstract expressionist Mark Rothko: solid, simple, significant.

The world has gone even more Old-Fashioned crazy since my book was published. The inimitable flavor combination has leapt out of the glass and been applied to candles, cheeses, candies, beer, and desserts. It’s flattering to the old drink, I’m sure, that it has inspired such imitation, but also a bit undignified and diluting. When you’ve reached a place where cocktail menus have an Old-Fashioned section, with several selections, you’re getting very close to the place where the Martini and its many derivative “’tinis” tumbled into the abyss back in the 1990s.

Thankfully, of all the different versions out there, the classic whiskey one is the standard that prevails in popularity by a wide margin. (I’ve included a couple worthy post-2012 riffs here as well, for good measure.)

Ogden Nash, a singular unspooler of clever light verse, is well known for a few lines he dashed off in tribute to the Martini—the bit that begins, “There is something about a Martini, a tingle, remarkably pleasant.…” If it’s been quoted once, it’s been quoted ten thousand times. Few know, however, that this was just the first stanza of a longer poem—apparently written on commission as promotional material for the Continental Distilling Corporation—in which many mixed drinks were paid tribute, including the Old-Fashioned. As the rhyme somehow escaped me while researching The Old-Fashioned, I am including it here. We shall forgive Nash the bit about the pineapple slice.

There is something about an old-fashioned

That kindles a cardiac glow;

It is soothing and soft and impassioned

As a lyric by Swinburne or Poe.

There is something about an old-fashioned

When dusk has enveloped the sky,

And it may be the ice,

Or the pineapple slice,

But I strongly suspect it’s the rye.

Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail

This is the basic formula for an Old-Fashioned, be it 1887 or 2017. Whether you reach for mellow bourbon or spicy rye is a matter of choice; both work wonderfully in the drink. If you’re lacking a muddler (or gumption), a bar spoon of simple syrup will do the job of the sugar cube.

2 ounces bourbon or rye

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 sugar cube

Orange twist

Saturate a sugar cube with bitters and a bar spoon of warm water at the bottom of an Old-Fashioned glass. Muddle until the sugar dissolves. Add whiskey and stir. Add one large piece of ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Twist a piece of orange zest over the drink and drop into the glass.

Trinidad Old-Fashioned


It takes a little bit of searching to find the ingredients for this simple but excellent drink. You can order the cider syrup from Wood’s Cider Mill in Vermont. The other two products you can find in the better boutique liquor stores.

2 ounces Plantation Trinidad Old Reserve rum

1 scant bar spoon Wood’s Boiled Cider Syrup

2 to 3 dashes St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram

Lemon twist

Orange twist

Stir all the ingredients, except the lemon and orange twists, together over ice in a mixing glass and strain into a large rocks glass or Double Old-Fashioned glass filled with one large ice cube. Twist a piece of lemon zest and a piece of orange zest over the drink and drop into the glass.

Eau Claire Old-Fashioned


Ask for an Old-Fashioned in Wisconsin and you get a drink made with domestic brandy poured over the muddled pulp of sugar, an orange slice, and a maraschino cherry, and topped with soda pop (as soft drinks are still called in the state) or soda water. This drink is a refined version of the same, with cognac stepping in for the local brandy, and the fruit mimicked by the cherry bitters and orange twist—a Wisconsin Brandy Old-Fashione
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t her side beneath three date palms. Smiling faintly, he is looking handsome in an all white suit. It is 6:30 a.m., and the date palm garden that mid-June day still seems cool and fresh. The wedding breakfast would follow some thirty miles away at the Junction’s Amargosa Hotel. Death Valley Date Nut Bread appeared on the menu.

Death Valley Date Nut Bread

Makes 2 loaves.

2 cups chopped dates

1 ½ cups very hot water

4 cups flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped walnuts

½ cup butter, softened

2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Chop dates and place in a bowl with hot water. Let stand for 1 hour.

In another bowl, blend the flour, granulated and brown sugars, chopped walnuts, softened butter, salt, and baking soda.

Add dates and water. Mix until dates are evenly distributed and the ingredients are moist. Pour into two loaf pans and bake for an hour or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sour Milk Biscuits

Death Valley Junction, California, 1935–1941

My parents belonged to a generation that was on the move. Along with so many others in the 1920s and 1930s, they’d left midwestern prairie homes and migrated to California, where they grew used to unsettled territories and familial disconnections. This was especially true of Dad, whose family began life in Indiana, resettled in Oklahoma, then migrated in the early 1920s to California, where my grandfather ran a small grocery store and chicken ranch. There the world of the past evaporated like morning mist in the mild Pomona air.

Dad’s family life in California would also be full of broken threads. His mother died when he was only seventeen, and shortly thereafter he dropped out of school to marry a young woman he was “crazy” about, but they separated almost immediately, and the marriage was annulled. By then the Great Depression had begun, and Dad drifted alone from one low-paying job to another, driving a taxi and then picking and living on pears in Oregon. Shortly after his season with the pears, he contracted tuberculosis and was confined to a sanitarium in Southern California. During his eighteen-month confinement, he would tell us, many years later, none of his family came to visit. “Not one,” he’d say, voice rising, eyes watering, shoulders tensing toward his ears.

In 1935, cured of TB and desperate for a job, Dad took off for Death Valley Junction where he had wrangled himself a position with the Pacific Borax Company. He got himself to Crucero, a dusty outpost in the Mojave some ninety miles south of the Junction, when a flash flood washed out the roads and railway tracks. It was 3:30 a.m., so Dad sat down in what passed for a railway station to get some rest. Around dawn a man in a handcar appeared, as in a dream, sent by the president of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad to transport Dad to his new employment. The dawn that day must have turned Golden Canyon the color of honey.

Dad’s job as clerk earned him only sixty dollars a month to start, but before long he was proudly writing the boss’s letters for him and taking control when the boss left town and the frontier settlement veered slightly out of whack. One noon, he told me once—over a piece of my mother’s dense mincemeat pie—about thirty army men arrived in town and wanted to be fed. The cook threw up his hands when he saw how many there were. He went to the store and got a bottle of booze, and in an hour he was drunk. Here, Dad put down his fork and assumed the booming voice of some old time, desert rat who’s seen and done it all: “So I fired him, promoted the dishwasher to chef, waited the tables, and got them all fed.” Then, directing his watery eyes toward something I couldn’t see: “Things like that happened all the time. It was an exciting life. You did everything.”

Dad’s one disappointment at this time stemmed from his unsuccessful attempt to work a gold mine with a Shoshone partner. The mine lay twenty miles from the Junction, hidden among the canyons, and could only be accessed, and then with difficulty, by burro. The cost of searching for elusive veins of ore eventually persuaded Dad to suspend his mining operations. But the lure of undiscovered gold stayed with him long after the railway stopped running in 1940 and the Amargosa Hotel closed down two years later for the War, long after he and my newly pregnant mother, seeing the handwriting on the desert’s tumbled walls, fled with two-year-old me to Compton, a working-class suburb outside Los Angeles.

Sour Milk Biscuits

Dad never told me what he served those army men, but I like to think that it included sour milk biscuits, a pioneer bread easily assembled from staples.

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons oleo or other shortening

⅔ cup sour milk

t you are touching the dough with your palm. Now, in a circular rolling motion, move the dough round the ‘cage’ of your clawed hand, making sure you are applying pressure to the dough so tension is formed. Keep rolling until a smooth, tight, round ball is achieved.


This is our favourite way of baking bread at home, and we really encourage you to do the same. To test the recipes we used the following:

For a large loaf, we used an oval pot 25cm x 33cm x 14cm deep.

For a medium loaf, we used an oval pot 20cm x 26cm x 10cm deep.

For a small loaf, we used a 19cm round pot 9cm deep.


Sourdough is our bread and butter at the Bread Ahead bakery (pun intended). We are very serious about the sourdough movement, and the largest part of our production in the bakery is white and brown sourdough loaves. We send our sourdough all around London every morning, baking over 1,000 kilos of it every day.

The sourdough loaf is all about a long fermentation, the development of a real depth of flavour, the open texture of the crumb, a chewy leathery crust, plus a nice singe and a flavour that sings.

Bakers have been baking using sourdough techniques since ancient Egyptian times. It’s the natural way to bake bread, and it’s only in the last 100 years, since the mass production of commercial yeast and those ever-increasing fermentation shortcuts, that sourdough has been left behind.

Over the last fifteen years the sourdough revolution has become massive, and has led to people rediscovering ancient grains and the techniques of long fermentation, and most importantly bringing flavour, crust and character back to our loaf. It has brought many new people into baking, which is fantastic, and it has helped the baking revolution really kick off, with small and micro sourdough bakeries opening up all over the place.

One of the main reasons many of our bakers come to work at Bread Ahead is to learn the ways of the Bread Ahead Sour. In the Bread Ahead Baking School we get many chefs and bakers coming into our 3-day sourdough class to learn how to make sourdough, carrying the movement further. We also run free demos at Borough Market, showing people how to make their own starter.

It’s important to relax about your sourdough starter – all you need is flour, water and time, plus the right conditions, which you can control! Don’t forget to name your starter, as it will become part of the family – our starter at Bread Ahead is called Bruce, after Canon Bruce Saunders, who was the first clergyman to bless our bread at Southwark Cathedral.



A sourdough starter is used to cultivate wild yeast in a form that we can use for baking. Since wild yeast is present in all flour (and in the air), the easiest way to make a starter is by combining flour and water and letting it sit for several days.


You can use any flour to make a starter, but we recommend using a wholegrain rye flour (and we use this in our production bakery). Rye starters tend to be a bit heartier and more resilient than their white counterparts.


It should take about 6 days to create a healthy, bubbly starter. By this point, your starter should have a honeycomb pattern of bubbles in it and a slightly alcoholic aroma.


During these first 6 days (when you’re feeding and growing your starter), it should be kept loosely covered at room temperature.


If you’re not baking with your starter straight away, put it into the fridge, with the lid of the container firmly fastened. If you’re not baking regularly with your starter, you’ll need to give it a feed (50g of flour and 50g of water) every 2 weeks.


You can freeze your starter. Once you’re ready to use it again, allow it to defrost at room temperature, and feed it daily (50g of flour and 50g of water) until it’s back to its bubbly self (this may take a few days).


Don’t worry if this happens – it’s harmless and is referred to as ‘hooch’, which is naturally occurring alcohol. It’s basically your starter saying ‘I am hungry’ and ‘FEED ME’. The hooch can either be poured off or mixed back into your starter – we are ‘hooch in’ at Bread Ahead.


If your starter begins to smell like dirty nappies, or the result of a night on the Brussels sprouts, it’s time to throw it away and start again. Simply give it a stir (it wi


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