Midweek baking

When Mr. Duess and Mr. Stephenson talk to friends, and frequently strangers, about their adventures in the kitchen where they bake bread, cure meats and lure unsuspecting lacto-acidic bacteria into carefully prepared habitats there’s one all to frequent question:

“Where do you find the time?”

Now, both Mr. Duess and Mr. Stephenson are far from being retired, years away from sitting quietly on their front porch, pipe in hand and feet beslipperd. Yet they like few things better than a slice of freshly baked rye bread, dipped into a humble dish of peppery olive oil. And to achieve that goal, midweek baking is frequently a necessity. Here’s how to do it:

Day One:

In the evening, take your sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed.

Day Two:

The next morning, prepare your dough. Today we used 180g rye and 320g wheat flower, with about a cup full of very active starter. Salt, water; about 300ml for a (roughly) 60% hydration of the dough. Add everything to your mixer and knead while you’re taking a shower. Take the resulting dough ball and put into an oiled bowl, cover and refrigerate. Go to work.

In the evening, remove dough from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Fold and stretch three times, then let rise in a banneton for two hours. After the first hour, pre-heat the oven to 500º. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread has an internal temperature of 200º. This is the result:


The loaf had hardly risen in the fridge, and even after three hours at room temperature little had changed. The rise happened almost exclusively in the oven – the so called oven spring, where the yeast goes on one last manic feeding frenzy before being killed off at just over 140º.

  • Maria

    Do you deliver? We’re in the West end village.

    They look fabulous.

  • Graham Hale

    Have you had any problems where you end up with limited air in your bread because of the oven sprig method? Would you suggest to have the fan assist off to slow the rise of temperature in the loaf?

    Many thanks


    London, UK

  • http://stephensonandduess.com Mr. Duess

    Hi Graham

    I’ve got a gas oven, and I don’t think I’ve ever switched the fan on. Especially when using a cloche, which I really can’t recommend enough, I don’t think it would make much difference.