Franschhoek chef Jean Pierre Smith’s reputation is on the rise at Lust Bistro and Bakery. Here he shares his top 5 tips for making bread successfully…
5 breadmaking tips
Even a loaf that takes 96 hours from start to finish will only require your attention (full attention mind you) for a couple of minutes every day.
2. Use natural/wild yeast.
It is all around us – you just need a medium to cultivate and grow it. (And did I mention patience in the first 7 days?)
3. Play it out in your head, before jumping in.
This is especially necessary once you start making a few loaves at a time. Yeast, being a biological leavening agent, has its own time – and even though you can manipulate it through retardation techniques – at some stage you will have to change your “game-plan” instinctively. This is where having the whole process in your head makes these snap decisions easy.
4. Be patient.
There is only so much that you can do to control the process. Best that you understand and accept very quickly that you can only guide the process.
5. Don’t slice a hot loaf.
Tempting as it may be, don’t do it! The cooling time (usually around 60 minutes) is integral to the texture of the end product.
Chef JP’s most memorable bread moments
The first successful ciabatta from the wood-fired oven. Yes – I know – seems like a very low hurdle….but trust me – I had to teach myself how to bake in a wood-fired oven, and of course taste and texture (crust and crumb) were always very important to me. This means a very high hydration on ciabatta dough (up to 90%) – leading to a very sloppy dough. I’m still not convinced this is akin to splitting the nuclear atom. Add oven temperatures of 280ºC, oven depth of just over 3 metres, a wooden paddle and a small little “door” to carefully position 25-30 loaves. I’m not going to lie….it was countless “f-bombs”, and a couple of days until I finally got it right.
Try out some of his bread recipes:
- Bitter-chocolate, Banana and Coriander Quick Bread
- Quick Seed Loaf
- Rye Loaf
- Rich Man’s Brioche
- Lust Sourdough
Words Diana Wemyss
Photography and video Johan Wilke