Dan Lepard is by far my favorite bread baker instructor, for many reasons, but perhaps the most important is that he doesn’t try to portray bread baking as a complicated and convoluted issue.  It is flour, water, salt, and yeast, folks.  Some bakers make you believe that you must go out of your way to get flour made from wheat harvested under a full moon when the temperature was 68.5 F. Or else… your bread will suffer horrible consequences.    Others will have you frantically measuring the temperature of the air, the water, the bowl, your hands, the nose of your dog, then manipulate all those variables to find out for how long you must knead your dough to hit the jackpot of 78 F. Or else… your bread will suffer horrible consequences.   Dan has a totally different approach, and you know what? None of his recipes has ever failed me.  Because he turns bread baking into a light, fun experience, you’ll relax, bake more often, and get the real important achievement in the process: familiarity with the dough, a “feel” for when it’s been kneaded enough, proofed enough, baked enough. This is a wonderful example of Dan’s talent, a bread made with saffron and ricotta that smells amazing, and tastes even better!


(recipe from Short and Sweet, available at The Guardian)

This is a very simple recipe, that doesn’t require a sourdough starter, a pre-ferment, or hours of commitment.  All you’ll need is good quality saffron, some ricotta cheese, and flour, mostly all-purpose with a touch of spelt (or whole wheat).

The saffron steeps in a bit of warm water, and that yellow, fragrant liquid is mixed with rapid rise yeast plus all other ingredients.

Minimal kneading involved: three sessions of kneading lasting less than a minute each will produce a super smooth dough with tiny flecks of saffron poking through here and there.

Using rapid rise yeast makes this bread show up at your table in less than 3 hours from the  moment you start gathering your ingredients.

I used an empty Le Creuset to bake this loaf: simply placed the slashed dough still over parchment paper inside the pre-heated Le Creuset (oven at 425F), closed the lid, and baked for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes I removed the lid and allowed the loaf to bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, until dark golden.


If you want to see the complete recipe and print it, please click here



Comments:  I’ve made this loaf twice in a month, which tells you how much we enjoyed it. One of the reasons I repeated this loaf so quickly was that we had a special visitor in our home, that dear friend who gave me a huge amount of saffron a couple of years ago.  He came over to give a seminar in our department, and I decided that baking a loaf of saffron bread would be a nice way to thank him for the gift. Side benefit: right after visiting us, he jumped on a plane to Saudi Arabia, and a little bird told me that more saffron will be arriving by mail, just when my reserves are reaching a dangerously low-level. Yes, you do have the right to feel jealous.  ;-)


The bread has a beautiful yellow crumb, and if you freeze it and enjoy it later, slightly toasted, the taste of saffron gets much more pronounced. It also makes superb croutons for a Caesar salad.  Baking in the Le Creuset produced a crust that was not too different from that of a rustic sourdough.  I am definitely going to use this method often for non-sourdough breads, it traps the steam in a very efficient way, and the resulting crust is considerably better (for our taste, at least).


I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting


ONE YEAR AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

THREE YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

FOUR YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere


  1. Hi Sally,
    Yup, jealous it is when I think about a saffron connection.

    I first was introduced to saffron in India, where it is used to flavor milk based desserts such as their version of rice pudding. I have yet to use it in bread that was not sweet and so am looking forward to trying Dan Lepard’s recipe!

    I had to laugh over your comments on the over complication of bread baking. Alright, I confess to having baked by all the methods you described. You forgot to add making sourdough cultures using the skins of only organic grapes!

    I too am a fan of Dan Lepard’s. I have gladly paid the extra fees to have books shipped to the U.S. from Amazon UK. Alright, I was only truly glad to pay the money once I had yet another of his excellent books in my hands. I thank you for posting the link to recipe in The Guardian. The question now is whether I can wait for his new book the article mentions or will I succumb yet again to paying international shipping???!

    I see you made an oval loaf shape. I have a large round Le Crueset. I was wondering if you could share the model or the dimensions of your pot? Is it a roaster of some kind? I would like to have the capability to make a longer loaf when using this technique.

    Thanks for the inspiration, the chuckles, and the baking joie de vivre!



    • Oh, yeah! Skins of organic grapes indeed, but you MUST peel them using your left hand. I don’t care if you are right-handed, it is important. It’s been proven.🙂
      Just measured the pan – it is one of the large ovals from Le Creuset, a little over 12 inches in the larger dimension, and about 10 inches across

      I should have taken a photo – the loaf sat nicely in the center – I bet you can do exactly the same with your round one, shaping the bread as a round thingie.

      thanks for your comment!


  2. Oh my goodness Sally, I *love* the ingredients in this loaf….I wish above all that I could enjoy a piece of your gorgeous bread with you while we play with your doggies… jump through the sprinklers with them under the glistening sunshine😉. Light and fun always works for me! (love your new profile pic) ♡.


  3. Sally, don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but the folks at Modernist Cuisine are in the planning stages of producing an encyclopedic collection of books on bread. Peter Reinhardt is one of the principals on the team. I think they’re looking for contributors. I don’t have the link on this computer, but if you Google Modernist Cuisine, you should find a direct link. Oh, and thanks for the Dan Lepard head’s up. Will be ordering his newest book.


  4. I bought a metal knob for my round Le Creuset dutch oven just so that I could bake no knead bread at high temperatures in the oven and then never tried the recipe after all. Fingers crossed I can try THIS recipe this long weekend and make that $16 expense worth it.🙂


    • If I had a dollar bill for every little thing I get with excellent intentions in mind.. well.. well… well…

      So, I hope my post makes you go for the Le Creuset baking, it really worked surprisingly well!


  5. Hahahha! I had to laugh out loud at your description here. I’m one of those that so scared of yeast and water reaction coz people make it sound scary and the whole checkig temp or water is just not my thing. Looks like I am about to be best friends with Dan Lepard! This loaf looks amazing.


    • Check out his recipes at the Guardian site, almost all the recipes from short and sweet are there…. Handmade Loaf has been hard to find, it’s out of print, I think…. but you might get lucky and find a used copy


      • Sally, I just ordered The Handmade Loaf from Amazon UK. I went there because in the Amazon US reviews several reviewers pointed out that US publisher had changed the measurements by weight to volume, which drives me nuts, especially for breads. The UK edition is pricier (mostly because of shipping) but for me it’s worth the extra few dollars. Should have the book in about two weeks, and can hardly wait to start cooking from it.


  6. Hopefully you’ve inspired people to try baking bread, if they never have. It really is easy, and you can add just about anything to the dough, which is my favorite part. Saffron and ricotta? Fabulous!!!


  7. I am a big fan of bread baking by feel and not by measuring every single variable. I mean…our ancestors probably didn’t have digital thermometers to measure the temperature of all the things, and yet their loaves still turned out just fine! I don’t think I’ve ever seen ricotta in a yeast bread before but it has me pining for a slice of this gorgeous loaf!


  8. I think this is a bread I can tackle Sally. I’m going to try. Did you preheat the Le Creuset in the oven before you placed the bread in it? I’ll let you know how this goes. I actually have all the ingredients on-hand.🙂


    • Yes, I did pre-heat the pan… should have mentioned that. But, I must say I’m not sure it would matter that much for this type of bread. Next time I will try to bake it with a cold Le Creuset – less chance of burns (don’t ask me! 😉


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