The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Speaking of Large Loaves: NPR's Basque Sheepherder's Bread

Rosalie's picture

Speaking of Large Loaves: NPR's Basque Sheepherder's Bread

This morning on NPR was a Kitchen Sisters story about Basque Sheepherders.  They told us to go to the web site for recipes, including one for bread.  I found it at

This NPR recipe calls for, among other ingredients, 3 cups of water and 9 1/2 cups ap flour.  Later on you are to form it into one ball and bake it in a Dutch oven at 375 for 12 minutes with the lid on, and then 30-35 more minutes without.

On another TFL thread there is a discussion about how long it should take to bake a 3-pound loaf - a lot longer than this.

Am I missing something?


verminiusrex's picture

It's possible to bake a loaf that big in about that amount of time.  If I make a huge loaf with 2 lbs of flour and 20 oz of water (which makes it 3+ lbs) I don't have to bake it for much more than the usual 40 minutes at 400 degrees.  The last time I tried a double loaf, I think I only had to bake it for about 50 minutes. 

 It can all depend on how fluffy the bread is.  When I was making Day of the Dead Bread (I called it Undead Bread, quicker that way) it took much longer to bake when the dough was dense than when I made it better and the dough was much more air filled on the second try, and it bakes 20 minutes sooner.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in the two recipes.  This has two packages, milk and butter, minus heavier grains.  Fluffy bakes faster.

Mini O

Oldcampcook's picture

I baked this loaf today, just out of curiousity. 

I followed the recipe with the exception of using my Bosch mixer to knead the dough.

I used approximately 2 more cups of AP flour than the recipe called for to get the dough to clear the sides of the bowls.  I use 130 grams of flour per cup, so if your weight is different for your cups, that should be taken into consideration.

The dough rose in the Dutch Oven exactly as the recipe said.  It did raise the lid about a half inch in just slightly under an hour.

The oven spring actually displaced the lid and some of the dough over flowed the sides and made a rim.

I baked the bread for the stated time, but it was not close to being done.  I baked it for an additional 40 minutes.

The crust is nice and crisp and the crumb is fluffy and airy.  The bread has a slightly sweet taste dispite having a minimum amount of sugar in it.

The bread weighed 4 pounds 11 ozs or 1242 grams.  It is truly an impressive looking loaf of bread.