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Did you make any BREAD during the “lockdown” or “partial confinement” period ? Did you have flour ? Did you have yeast ? Is everything almost back to “normal” where you are ? Are you all okay ? Is it ALL GOOD ?!

If YES, have you tried quick-rise, normal-rise and slow-rise dough schedules ? Have you tried cold-oven baking, hot oven baking and hot oven and hot baking pan methods ? Do you prefer making your bread on a baking sheet or in a deeper baking dish and with or without a lid ? Do you like large loaves, medium half loaves or smaller quarter loaves and buns ? I tried everything these past 8 weeks, over and over and over again !

The idea is so simple. You start off by making a BASIC PIZZA DOUGH and then decide to transform and modify this pizza dough by rehydrating it and folding it and rolling it until it turns into bread dough.

All you’ll need is one kitchen scale, one large bowl, one small bowl, one large plate, NO ELECTRIC MIXER NOR FOOD PROCESSOR, one wooden spoon, maybe a silicone pastry scraper or spatula, some baking paper, a brush or spray bottle, one roasting pan with a cover (or some aluminum foil to replace the cover).

I preferred waiting until the “lockdown” was partly over to show you this little trick or hack, but I hope this easy and adaptable method convinces you to try it out, because it’s as easy as making pizza dough. 

*If you’re into details and like reading, I explain everything further down, otherwise, just skip to the recipe ingredients and instructions. I’ve also shown you over 38 pictures to explain all of this and to present you with different options.

We have to talk about the INGREDIENTS and the WATER OR DOUGH HYDRATION or how much water there will be in the dough compared to the flour and any other special ingredients you can use.

We also have to talk about RISING TIMES. Is a fast rise as good as a slow rise ? What if you let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight for a very slow rise ? 

We should also talk about BAKING EQUIPMENT. Is it better on a baking sheet, completely exposed to the oven’s heat and eventual dehydration or in a baking pan with a lid, to maintain steam around the dough as it bakes. 

And how about OVEN TEMPERATURES ? Is a hot preheated oven the only way to bake or can you even try out the cold-oven baking method and slowly reach the correct baking temperature ? Should the baking dish or sheet be extremely hot or at room temperature ?

We’re going to explore all of these details, one by one.

The bread dough INGREDIENTS or what it’s best to use ?

Bread is the simplest recipe in the world. Flour, water, salt and yeast. All-purpose flour is okay but stronger bread flour, whether white or a mix with whole-wheat is better because it has more protein thus more gluten and will create a better quality and chewier bread. I recently discovered MALT powder made of germinated barley, that is then dried and ground into a powder. It develops flavor with a touch of sweetness and nuttiness as well as helping the development of the yeast and the rise of the dough. All you need is to replace 1 tsp of flour with 1 tsp of malt powder per 1 cup of flour that you need for your recipe for an excellent and tasty result. Saltiness is a personal choice. It slows down the over-development of the yeast and the rise of the dough and increases flavor. Sometimes some sugar is nice too but that’s optional. A little bit of fat is optional too but I use it to add just a touch of moistness as well as using it on my hands to knead the dough and avoid it sticking to my fingers. And of course water, but how much ? 

The dough HYDRATION or how much water should you use ?

Pizza dough is easy to make because it’s a drier dough, thus less sticky and easily malleable and in the end, the aim is to flatten it out and cover it with toppings so it doesn’t need more water. It’s “hydration” is 66% which means that for 250 grams or 2 cups of flour, you’ll use only 160 grams of water. 

Normal bread can be hydrated at a mere 70% or 175 grams of water for 250 grams of flour but usually at 80% or 200 grams of water for 250 grams of flour.  A wetter dough will always be harder and longer to knead and extremely sticky, especially flatbread dough like focaccia or lagana that is so soft that you simply place it inside your baking dish with lots of oil so it can spread out and not stick. 

This is how the idea popped into my head. How can you make a loaf of bread with pizza dough which is drier, more compact and malleable thus easier to knead and shape and transform and modify it into dough for a loaf or several loaves of bread ?

You proceed with normal pizza dough-making techniques up to the 1st rise but later you flatten it out, you spray it with water and fold it and spray it again and fold it again and you repeat this one last time. Then you roll it, re-flour it, shape it into a longer log and wait until it rises again. You’ve just increased the “hydration” from 66% to 76%.

The dough RISE or how long is it best to wait ?

When bread rises, after being kneaded, it develops the strength of its structure as well as its flavor. A quick rise in a warm space will make the bread rise quickly but will produce a flatter and less deliciously complex result. A regular rise at room temperature will be an improvement but still not the best. A slow rise, either by using very little yeast or slowing it down in a refrigerator for 12 hours or up to 24 hours will produce the tastiest bread as well as the strongest dough structure, rising high, becoming chewy and developing interesting air pockets inside.

When is the dough READY to be re-kneaded and/or baked ?

Whatever anybody tells you, the best way to judge if your dough is ready, for the 1st rise as well as the 2nd rise and before baking it, is to do the FINGER POKE TEST. Use the tip of your finger, coated with flour, poke the dough, if it springs back quickly, give it more time, if it springs back very slowly or just a little bit, then it’s safe to re-knead it if it’s just after the 1st rise or preheat the oven, if it’s after the 2nd rise.

What BAKING EQUIPMENT to use or should the dough be directly exposed to the oven heat or not ?

Baking on baking sheet is always easy, but it will bake the bread too quickly on the outside and dry it out and perhaps bake it insufficiently on the inside. Baking the dough in a baking pan with a lid, like a cast iron dutch oven or an enameled roasting dish, will better control the heat and maintain a humid environment with steam, allowing the bread to bake and expand and rise higher.

What BAKING TEMPERATURES or is the hottest preheated oven the best option ?

I tried three methods. A preheated oven and room temperature baking pan, a preheated oven and oven-hot baking pan and the cold oven method, in other words, turning on the oven only when the bread was put inside to be baked. All three provide good results. The cold oven method allows the bread to gently rise some more before it starts baking but the end result will be just slightly less high with smaller air pockets and will obviously take more time. The hot oven method and using a hot preheated baking dish will produce the best visual results, with a high and puffy bread and crispy crust but it requires carefully transferring the dough inside a deep dish without deforming nor deflating it it. The normal preheated oven method is easiest, especially if you let the bread rise inside the baking dish with a lid and you simply place the whole thing, dough and baking dish and lid inside the preheated oven. The result is almost the same and much easier.

What BREAD SIZES or is a large loaf better than smaller loaves ?

I used the exact same recipe and quantities but varied the number of loaves it could be used for every week. One large loaf may seem easier than 2 medium loaves or 4 small loaves but it’s all the same. Making one large loaf doesn’t take less time than making smaller loaves, simply because smaller balls of dough are easier to flatten, fold and roll and shape. The only difference is that small baked loves can be refrigerated or put into air-tight bags until you need them, as opposed to a large loaf that can be wrapped up in a towel but will dry out more quickly if not eaten in 2 days.

It’s a lot of information to digest, at least for beginners and new-comers to the world of bread-making & baking, but I hope I’ve explained everything well enough.

There is no perfect method. It’s all about adapting the recipe to your schedule and tools and working with what you have. 


easy bread (with the pizza dough hack)


400 grams


1st  dough rise :

  • 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour (or a mix with 163 grams (1 1/3 cups) white bread flour + 82 grams (2/3 cup) whole-wheat bread flour 
  • optional : replace 5 grams (2 tsp flour) with 5 grams (2 tsp) malt powder
  • 160 grams (½ cup + 2 ½ tbsp) water
  • 2,5 grams (½ tsp) dry active yeast
  • 2,5 grams (½ tsp) sugar
  • 5 grams (1 tsp) sea salt (increase up to 7,5 grams (1 ½ tsp) for saltier bread)
  • 7,5 grams (1 ½ tsp) olive oil 

2nd  dough rise

  • 30 grams (2 tbsp or 1 tbsp + 2 tsp + 1 tsp) water (for brushing or spraying each layer and fold)
  • 15 grams (2 tbsp) flour (for dusting the dough before flattening and for rolling into a log after)
  • 5 grams (1 ½ tsp) cornmeal (for dusting the bottomof your baking dish)


dough :

  • combine the flour(s), the sugar and malt powder (if using) and set aside
  • add dried yeast to room temperature or slightly warm water (with ½ tsp of the flour) and let sit for 15 minutes until frothy
  • add the frothy water and yeast mixture to the flour and sugar mixture, stir with a wooden spoon in a large bowl until coarsely mixed and then press the dough down and flip it over and press down again until all the flour is absorbed and let it sit for 15 minutes until better hydrated
  • flatten the dough inside the bowl, sprinkle with the salt on both sides, spread part of the olive oil on your hand (knuckles and fingers too) and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until more elastic, let rest for another 15 minutes, then oil your hand again with the remaining olive oil and knead again for another 2-3 minutes until the dough is elastic and quite compact
  • *note : if making a full loaf, use the dough ball as is, if making 2 half loaves, separate the dough into 2 pieces and shape into balls or if making 4 quarter loaves, separate into 4 small balls of dough and then let each ball of dough rise separately …
  • normal rise method : lay a piece of baking paper on a flat plate, sprinkle some flour on the baking paper and sprinkle the ball of dough with some flour too until well coated, place the dough on the baking paper, cover with a bowl and let the dough rise for 3 ½ - 4 hours (at room temperature or 21°C) until doubled in size and do the poke-test with the tip of your floured finger and if it hardly springs back, the 1st rise is complete
  • fast rise method : if you are pressed for time, you can let the dough rise in a turned-off oven, with the light on inside and a pan of hot tap water below it (but not touching the plate with the dough), which will raise the temperature to 31°C and take 1 ¾ -2 hours for the 1st rise and then 60 minutes for the 2nd rise, but it will be much flatter and les tasty …
  • slow-rise method : for better flavor, slower is always better ! you can refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours before it rises completely and doubles in size, after it returns to room temperature again and continues rising; example 1 : let it rise for 1-2 hours at room temperature, place the covered dish in the refrigerator for 12 hours, remove from the refrigerator and let it come back to room temperature (about 45-60 minutes) and let it rise for another 2 hours until doubled in size, example 2 : place the dough in the refrigerator directly before any rising, remove it from the refrigerator the next day or 24 hours later, and let it reach room temperature (about 45-60 minutes) and then let it rise for 3-4 hours until doubled in size … ALWAYS DO THE FINGER POKE TEST to know when it’s ready !!!
  • when the dough is ready, sprinkle the top side of the dough with a little bit of the 2 tbsp of flour, transfer to your work surface, top side down, gently peel off the baking paper, sprinkle the other side very lightly with flour and flatten out or spread out the dough until quite thin and rectangular
  • brush (or spray) the whole area with 1 tbsp of water (avoiding getting water on your work surface or it will stick), fold over both sides until half the size and brush (or spray again) with 2 tsp water, fold over again until half the size again and brush (or spray) with the remaining 1 tsp of water, tightly roll up into a log shape, wipe down or blot your work surface with a paper towel if wet, sprinkle the dried work surface and the log of dough with flour and keep rolling it until it become longer and thinner (but not as long as your baking dish), sprinkle with more flour if necessary, place baking paper on the bottom of your baking dish or baking sheet, sprinkle with cornmeal and place the dough on top (seam side down), cover with a lid and it let rise for 1 ¾ to 2 hours at room temperature or until doubled in size (do the finger-poke test again) 

baking :

  • preheat your oven to 230°C 
  • place a small oven-safe dish of water in the corner as the oven preheats, to create steam

*for the flat baking sheet method (without a cover) : 

  • create a sufficiently high aluminum foil tent to cover your baking sheet, spray the underside with water and place over your baking sheet and seal the edges 
  • bake on the lower rack for 20 minutes with the aluminum foil tent and then remove the foil, spray the loaf with water and continue baking for another 2 minutes, uncovered
  • remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack and until completely cooled and slice.

*for the deeper baking dish with a cover method (or tightly covered with aluminum foil to retain the moisture) :

  • spray the underside of the lid or aluminum foil with water and place it back onto the deep baking dish and seal the ends if using foil
  • bake on the lower rack for 20 minutes covered, then remove the cover, spray the loaf with water, bake an additional 2 minutes, uncovered
  • remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack and until completely cooled and slice.